EPIC and SHTA plan to launch green key eco-label on Sint Maarten

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) is planning on launching the Green Key as their second Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) program. EPIC was accepted by FEE as National Operator in 2008 and has already launched the Blue Flag program on St. Maarten.


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Before the Green Key program can be launched on St. Maarten the feasibility of implementing the program must be established. Two Dutch Environmental Sciences students, Rianne Pastoor and Angela Snip, are currently investigating the feasibility of running the Green Key program on St. Maarten for hotels. This feasibility study is being carried out under the direction of EPIC and the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA).

If implementing the Green Key on St. Maarten is determined to be feasible then criteria needs to be designed for the companies involved. This criteria is formed using International criteria created by the International Green Key Committee and National criteria created by the National Green Key Committee, formed on St. Maarten. After the criteria are approved by the International Committee in Denmark, a pilot phase has to be run at two different locations. Subsequent to this pilot phase the criteria can be adjusted if needed. Should implementing the program be determined to be feasible, the researchers will advise the pilot locations on how to implement the Green Key in their company. EPIC, the SHTA and the researchers will also host a Green Key workshop for interested hotels.

The Green Key is a voluntary eco-label for tourism facilities that promotes sustainable tourism by encouraging best environmental management initiatives. The Green Key educates and empowers tourism actors, including enterprises, authorities, guests, and local communities to change unsustainable behavior and become importantly involved in the protection of their environment. The program is currently operating in 28 countries and counts approximately 1500 Green Key locations.

Tourism facilities awarded a Green Key adhere to National and International Green Key criteria. The criteria have been designed to be easily understood by tourists, feasible for the tourism industry, and clearly verifiable through control checks. The criteria focus on environmental management, technical demands, and initiatives for the involvement of guests, staff and suppliers. Some of the categories covered are: water, waste, and energy management, involvement and awareness of guests, environmental management and staff involvement.

Green Key establishments report many benefits such as savings on water, energy and reducing waste. It creates a noticeably better environment for guests and staff, a better environmental image, marketing advantages and increased activity and sales. The Green Key program might help in dealing with the environmental challenges that St. Maarten faces, but the enforcement of proper environmental legislation, planning and assessment procedures are also important.

Rianne Pastoor and Angela Snip look forward to a positive working relationship and a high level of interest from the different hotels on the island. Interested parties can contact EPIC at in**@ep*********.org or 5453009.