Implementation of life cycle thinking in the tourism sector

The Life Cycle Initiative and One Planet Network (Sustainable Tourism Programme) collaborated to provide hotspot analysis and to develop low-carbon and resource-efficient solutions for the Dominican Republic.  

The Dominican Republic, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, has set the country’s tourism sector on a path to sustainability. The new tourism plan, developed in collaboration with UNEP, includes ways to measure and reduce food waste, increase energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy in hotels and other accommodation options. It builds on two years of research, data collection and analysis, which helped identify hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions and low efficiency in the use of natural resources in hotel value chains.

The resulting ‘Roadmap for Low Carbon and Resource Efficient Accommodation in the Dominican Republic’ sets five targets for the accommodation sector in the Dominican Republic: to reduce by 25 per cent greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (from a 2020 baseline), reduce food waste by half, a 25 per cent of reduction in non-renewable energy use, the complete elimination of single-use plastics and the creation of a sustainability certification for hotels. The roadmap also includes a regulatory framework with standards and certification schemes (such as energy audits and rating schemes), the identification of energy-efficient products and services to encourage the procurement of energy-efficient equipment by tourism businesses, and the implementation of training and awareness-raising programmes in energy management and renewable energy.

“This roadmap would not have been possible without strong cooperation between the public and the private sector,” says Olga Rosario, Director of the Sustainable Production and Consumption Department in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. “It’s the first time they have collaborated to establish clear targets to achieve sustainable development for the tourism sector.”

The Roadmap revealed that:

• Many environmental impacts related to tourism happen outside hotels. (57 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with farming for food served by the hotels.

• Energy used in hotel cooling and air conditioning is the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

• Hotels need to eliminate single-use plastics in products/ packaging y procuring sustainable alternatives such as banana leaves, while chefs and hotel managers will be encouraged to adopt sustainable procurement practices when buying food. (Sixty per cent of hotels have already reduced single use plastic containers by using refilling systems).

• The government will need to enforce and enhance regulatory frameworks, create financial incentives for reducing pollution and improve waste management and recycling systems.

• The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, together with the Ministry of Tourism, the Hotel Association of Playa Dorada, the National Council on Climate Change and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce confirm their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing a sustainable and resilient tourism sector.

Downloads and additional resources