How to Make the 2030 Agenda Meet Reality on the Ground

Switzerland, August 2021.

“Working out how to make the 2030 agenda meet reality on the ground is not an easy feat. Johan Westrin @ Les Roches, Switzerland, is doing exactly that and has started on a journal documenting some of the obstacles that many of us are facing around this topic.”

 

What does the 2030 agenda really mean in practical terms?

To be precise: what does the 2030 agenda mean in practical terms to us at Les Roches, located at 1500m in the Swiss Alps, with our 22 facilities and our +1000 ppl strong community of students, professors, guest lecturers, kitchens and catering service and everything else that goes with operating one of the highest standard hospitality management schools on the planet?

 

How do we plan the alignment of our infrastructure so that we are fit for up-and-coming regulations and requirements needed to run our business in an ecological way that may be considered Best Practice in 2030?

 

The 2030 agenda calls for progressive change, no matter how you look at it. We are keen and enthusiastic to bring about this change but how it is supposed to be done in a realistic way is not entirely clear. Our local supermarket does not offer solutions-in-a-box on a scale that makes much difference, nor does most of the many offers to replace existing infrastructure actually change our energy consumption by more than a few percentage points. The way things look at the moment, solutions will need some hard engineering if they are going to be part of making the 2030 agenda a success.

Take a look at the bigger picture:

How do we heat our houses, procure and prepare our food, care for the waste and make sense of our freedom and need of movement so that it fits within these targets?

Most previous and current tools available for calculating this does, so far, not take the 2030 agenda much into account except for telling us that we are failing. Sure, there are programs that help eliminate wasteful practices, improve habits and take steps in the right direction but most often these are somewhat limited in their impact. At LRCM we have partnered up with some of the most influential programs available to make constructive changes but it does not solve all hard problems.

First of all, what does the new deal actually say?

 

“The revision of the CO2 Act adopted by Parliament in the 2020 autumn session requires greenhouse gas emissions to be halved by 2030. The set of measures approved puts Switzerland on course to achieve the net-zero target by 2050 and is a key element in attaining this goal.”

 

For us to be compliant here means that we have to make some big changes where it matters, so let’s start with the Big 5 which are the most relevant and impactful to us in our situation:

 

- Heating/Domestic Hot W

- Electricity

- Procurement

- Transportation/Travel/mobility

- Waste management

 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to reaching the 2030 targets: some changes will be incremental; others will go unnoticed and some will be disruptive but in order to contribute with constructive change in each of these areas we need to build ourselves an even deeper understanding of the data involved.

 

We need this data to benchmark the present accurately which, in my opinion, has not been done before, probably by anyone. We all use crude and blunt instruments when it comes to environmental precision, I'm afraid, to the detriment of the end result. Without accurate benchmarking we cannot measure change very well or know where to invest or change in order to make impact that matters.

Having said that, we can still make fair assumptions and find relevant insights to create a rough-guide roadmap towards 2030. This roadmap must include at least the known technological transformation required to meet the new targets as well as a framework that stipulates how we operate. Ideally, we know exactly how to do this already and we skip the chit-chat and go straight to target but nothing is ever ideal during transformative change.

 

We can therefore assume that this means re-thinking our supply-chains and daily operations as well as long-rooted organisational habits, which will be uncomfortable but doable, but when it comes to retrofitting our infrastructure, it becomes rather complex. Or shall I say expensive? Sure, it is a question of cost but keep in mind that even if we had endless resources, we may fail at reaching the targets if we don’t put the right solutions in the right way, at the right time and ultimately make sure they are used the right way.

 

Our personal habits are also going to have to change and some of these habits are based on choice. Our choice of nutrition, for example, can play a part in reaching the goals. Other habits will, by necessity, be forced on us just like non-smoking indoors has been forced on us. In retrospect I think everyone is happy about this but at the time of change it was rather unwelcome for many and I am sure it will be the same when/if we accept our liberties curtailed by the greater good.

 

Other practices will vanish due to disintermediation (by technology, by price, by customer demand, by practical necessity) and much of this will be entirely out of our control and rather down to market sentiment. Adapt or die, sort of thing. Part responsibility/part force, you may say, maybe with dismay. Correct, but it is a necessary trade-off if we wish to reach our targets. At LRCM we have already begun using the term “Mutual Responsibility", meaning that we are happy to put new systems in but we ask the users to use them properly.

 

At this point it makes sense to bring up the event horizon, mainly by pointing out that we do not have much of it. We are all 100% invested in the idea that technology will save us but we have little certainty what form it will take or where it will come from, who will provide it, how it will operate, who is going to operate it, how much it is going to cost, how much better or worse it will perform compared to other options (etc).

ROI and the whole catalogue of acronyms that are associated with running a business, such as KPI’s, EOL, ROA etc, are established concepts that do not appreciate hidden costs at short range. A certain flexibility for this should be factored in as well but since flexibility in this sense is directly associated with larger budget, it will naturally meet resistance. I remembermeeting resistance when I recommended swapping the fax-machine for a modem in the 90’s and to some degree I see similarities with environmental concern.

 

Just like digital transformation was a hidden expense 25 years ago, environmental transformation has become a hidden expense today.

In short, it looks more like a deep rabbit hole full of hidden pitfalls rather than a clean straight highway towards a clean, bright and happy future.

We cannot, however, be distracted by what it looks like. There are solutions out there that fit even though we have not made the connection yet and this is where it is important to understand who your friends are. Accurate advice and expert analysis is available from trusted partners and mentors and there are a lot of new innovative ways that we should explore. We must therefore become better at reaching out and connecting with those that understand this and see mutual value in building better. They are key to our success and at LRCM we are reaching out in order to find the relevant solutions that fit into our reality.

Our partners in SUNx Malta, Oceanic Global, our energy provider Oiken and our local commune, “Association des communes de Crans Montana”, are just a sample of the many brilliant organisations that make up our expanding network of key actors that all wants to move in the same direction towards 2030. This year during our environmental festival “Shiftin’ 2021” we aim to highlight innovation and sustainability in hospitality on a broad front. We are very excited about this and look forward to addressing a wide range of topics that are smoking-hot for our reality on the ground.

Finally, enter the students. This is going to become our future. This is our challenge to start figuring out not just what the world should look like 100 months from now but also how we will make it happen. We are delighted to include more and more students seeking sustainable solutions to the dancefloor and all get together during Shiftin’ 2021.

 

Johan Westrin,

Maintenance Project Manager LRCM

Contact

Geoffrey Lipman, SUNx Co-founder

info@thesunprogram.com

+32495250789

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