Uniting an Industry for Sustainable, Global Change
By Jenifer Willig
Friday, April 12, 2013
Across the globe, high-profile luxury brands are leading the way toward a new era where luxury and sustainability co-exist. In fact, the hospitality and tourism industry has long been a leader in this area. Today, hotels and resorts are adapting environmentally friendly practices that drive positive change for their properties. But that's not enough. The hospitality and tourism industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry, and one of the biggest consumers of natural resources. But united, it has the potential to impact large social issues affecting everyone on the planet without sacrificing its bottom line. And the industry is starting to realize.
Today nearly 1 billion people live without access to clean and safe drinking water. And nearly 2.4 billion live without basic
sanitation. Accessibility to clean and safe water is a global issue that affects every country on the planet. And it needs an
innovative approach to help fund the diverse solutions required to help eradicate this issue.
WHOLE WORLD Water
is one of those solutions. Our model aims to unite this industry to raise funds for clean and safe water
projects around the world. We begin with the premise that positive change and investment requires a model that focuses on
sustainable and profitable growth. Through our model, hotels, restaurants and spas filter water at source, bottle it in
reusable glass bottles and sell it to guests. They donate 10 percent of the proceeds to The WHOLE WORLD Water Fund; a
fund benefiting clean and safe water projects across the globe. In short, our members increase profits, reduce waste,
and help build a sustainable future for us all.
We're well aware of the incredible economic contribution of the hospitality and tourism industry. It helps propel our global
economy. It accounts for nine percent of the global GDP, six percent of world trade, and surprisingly, eight percent of
exports from least developed countries. And the industry isn't slowing down. In 2012, we saw more than one billion tourists,
and even more are expected in 2013.
Under this umbrella, there's an incredible opportunity to leverage this industry for global good. Our members
Virgin Limited Edition,
to name a few, understand that investing in social issues does not have to be at the expense of environmental and economic
progress. In fact, they go hand in. And we hope they will lead the way and inspire all members of the industry to join us.
The way we see it, simple changes can have long-term impact. From reducing food miles plastic waste to supporting the local
communities, these incremental changes scale up to massive change.
Our hope is that participation in WHOLE WORLD Water will inspire our members to look at other ways they can affect positive
change and build their business. WHOLE WORLD Water exemplifies a new way to do business designed to unite an industry,
create scaleable impact and balance environmental, social and economic progress, without sacrificing quality. Collectively
we can raise millions, even billions to help provide safe and clean drinking water for all.
What we're calling for is a fundamental shift in the way we do business. Our members get it, and our esteemed group of
Advisors and Trustees get it. Jonathan Porritt, a WHOLE WORLD Water Trustee, recently presented an impassioned plea to the
industry at this week's
WTTC in Abu Dhabi,
emphasizing the importance of sustainable business in today's world: "We know about the economic contribution of travel
and tourism. It's immense... We can't do sustainability by add-ons or by mitigating damage. That will not get us where we
need to be."
Solving our world's grand challenges can't be achieved by one individual, one brand, or one organization alone. It requires
the collective efforts of all: from governments to business to nonprofits. When we work together, we can scale our individual
efforts to drive long-term sustainable change.
Our model is only one of many. Yet it's our hope that WHOLE WORLD Water will serve as an example of what we can achieve when
one industry unites around a common goal and a single issue. Imagine what we could accomplish -- and the value we could
create for our employees, customers, shareholders, and communities -- if we were to approach our grand challenges with
long-term sustainable business solutions. We have the means; all we need is the will.
Join us in helping to provide access to the billion living without clean and safe water today. Contact us at