Accountability, transparency and sustainability are no longer nice-to-haves. With investors, consumers, and regulators more demanding of open and honest environmental practices, they’re increasingly ‘must-dos’ in the operation of any business.

And everyone needs to be going green. Businesses are falling over themselves to show off CSR creds, keen to attract the ‘woke’ consumer and the intelligent investor.

These parties want to know where the products they buy have come from and they want to know how they got to where they are. They want to know the impacts and implications of the services they use. And demand the same of their experiences too. Almost 90% of global travellers want to travel sustainably, according to a report by Booking.com, and a subsequent report found that almost two thirds believe we need to make sustainable travel choices now to save the planet for future generations.

Yet running PR stunt, a CSR programme, and token gestures to placate the green lobby are no longer enough.

Leading by example

Instead, businesses must lead by example and invest in the development of products and processes that mitigate environmental damage. They must not only adhere to environmental legislation and approved codes of practice, but set new standards in sustainable practices. They must not operate alone, but work with customers and partners to demonstrate environmental management standards. They must assist others to use products and services in an environmentally sensitive way – and in a way that’s sustainable for the long-term.

Why? Because doing these things as throw-away, one-time gestures isn’t good for brand reputation or progressing a business roadmap. The above approaches need to be part of a greater whole: businesses need to be active participants in a circular economy, and must foster sustainable consumption

Switzerland: switched on to green

In a sign of just how important this approach is, in March, the EU adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan, one of the foundational blocks of the European Green Deal. When we think ‘Green Deal’ many of us will think of the benefits to the natural environment. While this is important, moving towards a circular economy also has benefits for the local communities in which a business operates – as well as its investors.

Switzerland is one country that noticed this early. Back in 2016 it became the first country to vote on whether to implement a green economy. Sustainable and ‘green’ practices are nothing new to Switzerland. Its Article 73 states that the Confederation and the cantons must strive for ‘a balanced relationship between nature and its ability to renew itself, on the one hand, and the demands placed on it by the human race, on the other.’

We’re proud to be playing our part in Switzerland’s sustainable, green approach to business. Ptarmigan Health Destinations’ development of Evolène Valley is grounded in the principles of social, economic and environmental sustainability. The architecture, infrastructure, development and operations at Evolène Valley will integrate with and enhance the natural environment. Through innovative carbon-minimising tech, we’re aiming to reach a point in our operations at which Ptarmigan Health Destinations contributes a net reduction in carbon consumption.

Community and consultancy

In addition, we’re working closely with members of the local community to ensure that the development benefits not only the natural environment, but the human one too. We’re helping to create a site for local GP services, burying overground transmission lines, and providing consultancy on local renovation work. We’re creating an ecologically sustainable and authentic destination that’s enthusiastically supported by the Swiss Cantonal and Communal authorities.

This approach – based on accountability, transparency and sustainability – isn’t just good news for the environment and community, it’s good news for business and investors. Between 2019 and 2023, the global sustainable tourism market will grow by an estimated $338.06 billion.

If businesses want to stay in the black, it seems, they need to make sure they start – and stay – green.