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At César Ritz Colleges Switzerland, we are deeply committed to teaching students about sustainability and leading by example on our campuses – a commitment that earned us the Green Globe certification in 2021. We hold this commitment because we believe the future decision makers of hospitality and tourism should be acutely aware of their businesses’ impact on the world and its people.
That’s why we integrate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – adopted in 2015 by all United Nations Member States – across our courses. These goals serve as a blueprint for the prosperity of all people and the planet, today and in the future through improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Yet when I talk about sustainability with my students, they often understand it strictly in relation to the environment. True sustainability, however, is multidimensional.
The “Triple Bottom Line”
According to the United Nations Brundtland Commission, sustainability is defined as, “the development that seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future.”
In 2006, other essential components of sustainability were added to the definition. This broadened our understanding of sustainability from purely environmental to several other dimensions to create a long-term vision in which, “economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection go hand in hand and are mutually supporting.”
This means that long-term sustainability is actually a balance between environmental, social and economic factors, and if we are to achieve sustainability, we must work across all three dimensions.
We are all responsible for sustainability
A sustainable future is not just a matter of concern for governments or large corporations. Each of us has a responsibility to contribute toward these global sustainability goals and the “Triple Bottom Line” as citizens of this world. We can start on a journey towards living a more sustainable life firstly by taking inventory of our current actions. What are the environmental, social and economic effects of our lifestyles and choices? What can we start, stop or change about our lifestyle to align it more with these goals?
I would suggest starting first by reading the resource The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World, which gives suggestions big and small for how we can make a difference in our collective fight for a more sustainable world. Because that’s exactly what it is – collective. We all play a part in implementing these goals, and the urgency has become that much more visible in the last few years as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and prolonged conflicts compound needs across the world and threaten our progress.
These challenges bring to light how difficult the road ahead is to a more sustainable world, but they are not an excuse to give up. If anything, it reveals just how important it is that each of us make a difference where and how we can.
So let’s start today, take action, and remember the triple bottom line!
Paola Ossola PhD has experience in both education and research as well as social entrepreneurship. She holds a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Pavia, a Master's degree in Managerial Economics, and a Bachelor's degree in International Management from the University of Insubria. She currently teaches International Tourism Management, and Business Sustainability at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland and is CEO and co-founder of La Happy Care Srl, a longevity focused company with a special attention to the care of people with dementia. She is also co-founder of the non-profit association Alzheimer’s Fest APS, and Progetto Rughe ODV which serve to advocate for and uphold the dignity of people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
La Happy Care Srl: www.lahappycare.com
Progetto Rughe: www.progettorugheodv.it
Visual 1 - Source: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment
Visual 2 - Icons taken from Flaticon