Conserving oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Now more than ever we are aware of how oceans and seas are essential for our planet and the well-being of its population. We know they generate oxygen, regulate the climate, counteract the effects of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and provide us with countless resources and food, and over 200 million people rely on them for work.
However, their ability to support human activity is limited. High pollution levels are destroying marine habitats and exhausting many of the resources they provide.
In our CSR policy, as one of the company’s principles we identify a “firm commitment to preserve the environment and respect the native flora and fauna of all destinations in which we operate, based on a conviction that the sustainable economy is the path to follow.”
We currently have several initiatives relating to biodiversity in our hotels. This means that care for species has acquired a significance that is, if possible, even more special.
One of the first programmes we implemented was the “Sea turtle protection programme”, under which we have contributed to the release of over 1,000,000 baby turtles in the last ten years.
There is a need to establish efficient and proactive management plans for these ecosystems to conserve and use oceans, seas and marine resources in a way that ensures the planet’s sustainability, because we are increasingly suffering from the severe consequences of not doing the right thing.
What can we do?
At IBEROSTAR GROUP we have developed an action plan directing most of our resources on working on environmental matters. This focuses especially on SDG14 “Life below water” with the specific aim of contributing to the preservation and conservation of seas and oceans and the sustainability of the resources we obtain from them.
To this end we have established three main clearly differentiated lines of work:
- Sustainable fishing
50% of fish reserves in major ecosystems are over-fished (UNESCO), reaching the maximum levels that the species can offer (FAO). Trawling not only destroys the seabed, but is also largely responsible for these figures as 40% of fish caught in this way are unwanted.
From our perspective, we believe that our most powerful tools are education, awareness raising and helping create new consumption habits by diversifying it. As with fruit and vegetables, different types of fish are available depending on the season and so fish can also be regarded as a “seasonal” product.
At IBEROSTAR we work with our purchasing teams and food consultants to bring the range of fish on offer in our hotels into line with seasonal fish in the different destinations. In this way, we intend to encourage responsible consumption of this product.
- Reducing plastic contamination
It is calculated that in 2020 the rate of production of plastic will have increased by up to 900% compared with 1980; only about 25% is currently recycled. According to Greenpeace, over 200 kilos of plastic are dumped in seas and oceans every second (over 8 million tons per year). If we do not act, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in 2050.
With this in mind, we have worked on continuously improving the plastic products used in our hotels with the aim of gradually replacing them with others made from biodegradable materials. We also carry out awareness raising campaigns to change “usage patterns” of some of these products (e.g. the “0 Straws” campaign).
- Conserving and protecting coral reefs
According to UNESCO, 60% of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened and this figure could rise to 90% in 2030.
By protecting reefs, we protect their incalculable value as a source of biodiversity and as shelter and a home to many marine species. They also have a direct impact on fishing as they protect against coastal erosion, they are sources of natural chemical compounds that are necessary for treating illnesses and they are an important tourist attraction.
At IBEROSTAR we work on protecting them through agreements with other institutions, and indirectly through the actions carried out as part of the two lines of work mentioned above.
Our actions are always accompanied by training and awareness-raising sessions when required because we are convinced that it is people who move the world and drive changes in mentality. We not only try to raise the consciousness and awareness of our employees, but also our guests, communities, suppliers and other stakeholders. This not only enables us to implement better management within the company, but it also helps to spread, attitudes in favour of protecting the environment among all stakeholders.
Clearly the solution is not easy and the results will only be apparent in the long term, but in the tourist sector we must act to meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as our industry is closely linked to the seas and oceans; because apart from everything they provide us with, they are one of the most important assets of many of the destinations in which we operate.