Hong Kong, 20 October 2020 – As the world grapples with the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, the second annual G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference concluded successfully on 24 September 2020, convening experts, stakeholders, academics, and social impact leaders passionately driving sustainable development in the hospitality industry.
G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference 2020
Funded by the Sustainable Development Fund of Hong Kong, hosted by Soap Cycling in partnership with Foundation for Shared Impact, and supported by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Business School, the G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference was inaugurated in 2019 to connect businesses and various stakeholders to bring about sustainable and innovative solutions to the tourism and hospitality industry, one of the largest and most important industries, yet also one of the most polluting, in Hong Kong.
With the global tourism and hospitality industry among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and tourist arrivals in Hong Kong seeing a 99.9% year-on-year drop, G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference 2020 is even more relevant as a facilitator and an enabler for the hospitality industry to rethink and ensure sustainability and growth.
Unlike last year, this year’s Conference was moved online. The decision was made by Soap Cycling, Asia’s first and largest soap recycling charity, and organizers at G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality about a month prior to the Conference date, to abide by the physical distancing rules to ensure the health and safety of the panelists and participants. The participants were undeterred: 297 people from Hong Kong and all over the world registered for the event to gain insight from and interact with the 27 speakers. Topics at the Conference included the problem of food waste and its relation to climate change; plastic pollution and its negative impact; waste management and treatment; and circularity in the hospitality industry.
Participants were equally enthusiastic about the workshops in the afternoon, where they were assigned into virtual breakout rooms to engage in discussions on single-use plastic strategy, decarbonization of food menu, ESG reporting and supply chain management, and sustainable hospitality practices in the light of COVID-19.
“Both the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have brought to light the stark inequalities in countries all over the world, where underprivileged communities are disproportionately affected,” said Lucia Loposova, Program Manager of G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality, who has recently spoken at TEDxTinHauWomen Countdown on driving Hong Kong towards a more sustainable future. “The need to advance sustainable development was urgent even before the pandemic, and is now more so than ever, as COVID-19 has set back years of social and environmental progress. It certainly is heartening to see that, despite being severely hit, the hospitality industry is showing a higher awareness of its great potential in expediting the progress towards a more sustainable future.”
“People have reached out to discuss follow-up projects and collaborations almost immediately after the Conference. To witness such a sense of urgency and the ambitions to innovate for a better future is exciting,” said Justen Li, Chairman of Soap Cycling. “For the second year, we continue to see great interest from experts, various stakeholders, innovative entrepreneurs, and the public in participating in the G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference. COVID-19 presents us with the opportunity to rethink unsustainable business models and supply chain, and the Conference couldn’t have happened at a better time to bring together new ideas and creations for a more sustainable, equitable future.”
G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Hackathon & Innovation Night
G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality is increasingly garnering recognition as a leader in sustainable hospitality initiatives, not least for its data-driven research on the sustainability challenges and solutions in the hospitality industry, and the wide dissemination of research findings to the public and key stakeholders; the Think Tanks it organizes to facilitate new partnerships and solutions by tapping into the collective knowledge and expertise of the attendees; and the topical webinars it organized in the run-up to the G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Conference this year.
Extending the momentum built at the Conference will be the G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality Hackathon & Innovation Night on 20-21 November, also funded by the Sustainable Development Fund. Participants will form teams of three to five to come up with innovative solutions that help the hospitality industry tackle the challenges of waste segregation, reduction, and food waste, based on study materials to be provided by G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality. The hackathon, with attractive cash prizes, is open to university students, people in the hospitality industry, members from the community, and entrepreneurs, who will receive mentoring support from hospitality and sustainability experts, entrepreneurs and innovators, and representatives from civil society.
* This press release is produced for Soap Cycling and G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality by the Foundation for Shared Impact.
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G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality aims to facilitate a better connection and promote dialogues between all related industries in the hospitality sector, to improve sustainability measures and create initiatives for positive environmental impacts, while exchanging knowledge on the success and challenges in achieving their sustainability goals.
G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality encourages businesses to work together to bring about innovative, sustainable, cross-border advancements to the global hospitality industry through innovative and engaging events and activities. Unlike other sustainability initiatives within the hospitality space, the G.R.E.E.N. Hospitality focuses on all aspects in regards to hospitality, including hotels, supply chains, airlines, food, and others.
Founded in 2012 as a charity organization that collects single-use soap bars from hotels in Hong Kong, to be reprocessed and distributed to disadvantaged communities which lack access to sanitary resources, Soap Cycling is devoted to youth empowerment and community engagement by providing these members of community with practical and meaningful work experiences, and exposure to social responsibility.
Soap Cycling has grown its hotel partnership network to over 80 in Hong Kong, and more than 100 hotels overseas. Since 2017, Soap Cycling has added bottled hotel amenities to its recycling program, and the MEY Program has also been introduced as an empowerment initiative for disadvantaged youth and elderly by providing them with employment opportunities with a fair wage.
Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Hong Kong
The HKU Faculty of Business and Economics strives to be a globally impactful institution that provides world-leading business and economics education to nurture dynamic and responsible leaders, advances the frontiers of knowledge through innovative and globally significant research, and creates positive changes in the world by partnering with communities.
Foundation for Shared Impact (FSI)
Foundation for Shared Impact is a tax-exempt social impact incubator that seeks to drive greater collective social impact, by connecting people with information, knowledge and resources, and nurturing the next generation of social impact leaders.
FSI’s mission is to solve society’s most challenging problems through community building and sharing resources. FSI does this by helping high-impact organizations reach their full potential by resolving bottlenecks, maximizing resources, and scaling their social impact toward addressing problems at the systemic level.
Through its impact-based higher-education model, Impact Lab, FSI aims to build a generation of leaders that will usher in the next iteration of impact- and purpose-driven capitalism, emphasizing long-term incentives and sustainable business models.