Building Sustainable Legacies

The human rights approach to water sustainability in luxury industries

Collaboratory about the issue of WATER in the Hospitality & Luxury Industries

Some 70 stakeholders from business, industry, NGO, government, academia and civil society gathered to discuss the current issues and future potential solutions around the water issue in the hospitality and luxury industries, of course touching also on the water issues in general and what is means for individual, communities, organizations and countries. The event started with contributions from the following experts:

  • Carlos Carrion-Crespo: Senior specialist public services, International Labour Organization

Employment in The World Water Development Report for 2016

  • Jean-Benoit Charrin: Executive director; WaterLex

The human right to water and sanitation in water governance

  • James Holleran: Professor of Sustainable Tourism

Sustainability in the tourism sector

  • Christopher Cordey: CEO of Futuratinow and professor, BSL

Sustainable Luxury Management; Ethics & Sustainability in Business

  • Mark Smith: Director, IUCN Global Water Programme

Ecosystem conservation, sustainable water supply and implications for the Human Right to Water

After an hour of engaged stakeholder discussion broadening and deepening the understanding of the issue including many participants from the audience, the challenge was obvious: how to find solutions for such a complex issue? The visioning process, which followed, builds on the understanding that new solutions cannot be developed from the same mindframe that generated the problem, thus the irrelevance of problem-based solutions. The stakeholder community present came up with a broad understanding of how a world would look like with the water problem solved. The word cloud below is a simplified reflection of this common vision:

Water as a meeting place; Education of young people = a sense of urgency; Water for all living beings; Water is free, good and available; Breakthrough in water purification; Using the water of the oceans; Us as human beings rather than consumers; Harmony of water-nature-humans; Full of life; Everybody is aware of the value of water; Water is as much appreciated as wine; Water doesn’t belong to anyone; Pricing of all goods reflects all costs (including water); Imagine everybody living without water for one day!; The future is a noisy place full of debates and dialogue

In a next phase, the creativity of the community was unleashed, with a co-creative brainstorming session using a back-casting approach, imagining new prototype solutions derived from the common vision we had previously imagined. The ideas where flowing and can be summarized as follows:

  • The role of women in resolving the water issue (building on water as an ancient meeting place)
  • Scaling up a CEO initiative on water (building on existing initiatives)
  • Developing a sense of personal ownership & responsibility for the use of water (many examples of how to make a personal difference)
  • Raising awareness around the complex issue of water in general and in the luxury industries in particular (do handbags really need to be made out of leather?)
  • Creating courses at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary education) around experiential learning with water (both local and in regions of water scarcity or pollution)
  • Developing relevant and game-changing regulations and incentives

Participants organized into groups of 3 to 6 members around the above prototype ideas and jointly developed concrete approaches and potential solutions for each of these. Our collaboratory session ended with a lot of enthusiasm, new ideas, friendship rekindled and new contacts made, and the follow-on buffet provided food and drinks for further discussions that ran into the very late night. Some impressions here and more picture available online:

 

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Author: Dr. Katrin Muff

Dr. Katrin Muff is a thought leader in the transformative space of sustainability and responsibility at Business School Lausanne, where she acted as Dean from 2008-2015 until self-organization made such a title redundant. Under her leadership, the school focused its vision on entrepreneurship, responsibility and sustainability in education and research. Her business experience includes 10 years at ALCOA (GM in Russia, Industry Analyst for Global M&A in the U.S. and Business Analyst Europe), 3 years as Director, Strategic Planning EMEA at IAMS Europe (Procter&Gamble), and 3 years as a co-founder of Yupango, a coaching consultancy dedicated to start-ups and training management teams.

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