Drastic and increasingly frequent summits and gatherings are being conducted by global leaders to curb the effects of climate change. Now is a good time as any to look into sustainable and greener practices across industries that are battling to effect change and contribute to the fight as the planet gasps for its air of relief. Sustainability is a term that has slid into environmental studies’ textbooks and other literature for quite some time now.

While millennials come across the word occasionally, Gen-Z and onwards are being educated on how to adopt sustainable practices in their day-to-day lives. We have finally reached a ‘now-or-never’ situation that nobody yet everybody is to blame for. Global measures are on the rise to rectify and control the environmental decay in any way possible and contributions are pouring in across industries. The COP26 that has spanned out in November 2021 has been able to put forward thoughts that are expected to impact positively upon measures being imposed to tackle the effects of climate change.

COP26- A Summary

COP26 Event

In 2015, the United Nations climate conference that was held in Paris aka Conference of Parties- 21 (COP21) concluded by agreeing to adopt the Paris Agreement which requires action from countries across the world irrespective of their levels of industrialization. It establishes collective conduct involving strategic methods aiming to reduce greenhouse gases effectively by the end of this decade. The COP26 is the continued effort to keep up with the efforts dictated by COP21 and the core gathering and discussions took place between 31 October and 13 November. 

Is COP26 Important?

Most definitely. Climate risks are on the rise across the planet and the Covid-19 pandemic, if anything, has worsened the situation. Industries worldwide need to rise to the challenge and extend their contributions within the stipulated timeline to ensure the success of COP26. The wealthier nations are expected to fund the climate change cause (climate finance) at a tremendous rate of 100bn dollars per annum. The Indian Prime Minister has vouched that India will do its part and reduce its emissions to zero by the year 2070.

Sustainability and the Tourism Industry in Kerala

In light of the COP26, the tourism industry collectively needs to step up and effect change immediately and an effective way to do so is through the adoption of sustainable practices. The idea of responsible tourism in Kerala has been on the table for a while but it’s only very few establishments that have implemented it and taken suitable measures. Kerala, being a prime tourist destination with numerous attractions can effect notable change by amending practices and adopting greener measures.

How can hotels, resorts and other establishments ensure sustainable practices?

The best way to go about this for a dynamic industry like hospitality and tourism is to approach the problem in a strategic and step-by-step manner. Some of the steps that can be undertaken as part of responsible tourism include the following:

Step One: Know your space.

Identify and acknowledge the nature of the location where you plan to build or buy your property. Understand the environmental factors surrounding the area and take note of whether it is demarcated as ecologically sensitive. If it is, you need to take additional measures to be as minimal as possible and avoid any unnecessary depletion of natural resources in the area.

Step Two: Be resourceful.

Sustainable tourism in Kerala is not difficult to achieve. It is just a matter of utilizing what’s available in the most conscious manner. Reconstructing furniture from aged ones, relying on alternate sources of energy such as solar power and promoting the availability of natural lighting are some of the simple ways to demonstrate responsibility.

Step Three: Reduce and Reuse

Promote personal reuse of linens and towels in the rooms and change them only on explicit request. Avoid plastic at all costs and actively promote the use of alternate materials depending on the purpose. Discourage the use and wastage of non-biodegradable materials. Use materials that are insular especially in hill stations to avoid the need for additional heating.

Step Four: Plant More Trees

People flock from around the world to Kerala for its lush greenery. There is nothing more win-win for your business than planting more trees as well as climate and soil-suitable plants in and around your property and wherever possible. Ensure that you use only eco-friendly pesticides and materials to aid the cultivation.

Notable Initiative by Kerala Resort to Enhance Sustainability

SpiceTree, located in the Munnar region of Kerala is a great example of resorts that have taken an initiative to promote sustainable tourism in Kerala. The efforts by this resort in particular are noteworthy because of the simplicity and ingenuity of the efforts involved. One of the most distinguishing and effective measures put forward by the resort includes the collaboration with Auroville’s Botanical Nursery in Pondicherry to source plants for cultivation near Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. The afforestation project has been tremendously successful and so far, 45000 trees have been planted. The ten-year goal is to get this number to 100,000.

Miyawaki Technique

Complete guide to the Miyawaki method of afforestation
Miyawaki Forest

SpiceTree has adopted this highly popular model of afforestation that has been designed to revive and build new forests over 10-15 years. The idea is to be able to create micro-forests by anyone and everyone who want to be involved but do not have the time, resources or power to effect immediate change. This model is highly viable and foolproof because you don’t need anything more than a simple backyard or vacant space to cultivate an entire forest within a decade. The simplicity and ease of practice guarantee the success of this model.

There are very few steps involved:

  • Identify suitable plants and ensure you have at least 30 different species.
  • Saplings can be planted and nurtured in organic manure within bags.
  • Use organic biomass to enrich the soil after loosening the soil by digging the site.
  • Plant the saplings close together by dividing the area into square segments and fitting up to four in each.
  • Take measures to prevent the growth of weeds by mulching using materials like dry leaves or wooden shavings.
  • Take care of the plants and water them routinely

What does SpiceTree do differently?

Besides the extensive afforestation efforts, additional measures have been implemented to ensure that greener practices have been followed every step of the way. Community involvement is one of the best strategies that this resort has undertaken. The appreciation of the local population is evident as the ideology is one of mutual benefit and growth for the resort and the local community that resides in Munnar. The local culture is revered and celebrated with highlights on authenticity. Eco-friendly and energy-conservative practices are prevalent and carbon footprint has been brought down notably over the past few years.

At SpiceTree, 25% of the electricity used across the property is powered through solar energy, without any of this affecting the comfort of the guests. SpiceTree is an optima example of how an eco-friendly resort in Kerala can actually effect change by implementing just a few thoughtful initiatives. This has the power to make all the difference and contribute to worldwide betterment. More resorts and establishments could do right by adopting similar practices.