Sani Resort Greece: Towards Zero Carbon
Sani Resort Greece is recognised for its green credentials winning the World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort at the World Travel Awards 2020, Eleni Andreadis, Group Director of Sustainability and CSR for Sani Resort and Ikos Resorts, discusses its Sani Green Programme and journey towards zero carbon.
Could you provide us with more details of your Zero Carbon Footprint project and the principles behind it?
The Zero Carbon Footprint project is our plan to get our carbon footprint as close to zero as possible. Sani is committed to contributing to the fight against climate change, with the aim to diminish emissions, increase renewable energy use and balance out remaining emissions. In 2020, Sani Resort successfully became the first carbon neutral resort in Greece, balancing its net emissions to zero, while the resort has been running on 100% renewable electricity since 2019. We aim to be net zero by 2030. We have also been dedicated to reducing our water use in the last five years by 48%, reducing single use plastic by 80% since 2013, and reaching recycling of over 90% for recyclables.
How is Sani Resort to become net zero by 2030?
The resort has been investing in carbon efficiency upgrades and has undergone an electrification process which sources electricity completely from renewable sources. Our plans include investing in renewable energy further and adding solar parks within the Sani area that will feed into the hotel through net metering, to further increase renewable local power. We have set a very ambitious triple zero goals – our intention to be net zero by 2030, as well as zero plastic and zero waste by 2024. The environmental problems the planet is facing are daunting, so our goals need to be extremely ambitious too. I am confident however that we are well on our way to achieving them.
Can you provide us with examples of initiatives that guests can take part in?
Sani Resort encourages guests to immerse themselves within their surroundings and reconnect with nature whilst on holiday through an array of eco-activities, excursions and experiences. The Sani Wetlands are home to 225 bird species, many of them rare and since 2013, there has been an increase of 680% in our Birdwatching tours and in 2019 alone, over 3,400 guests participated in a Sani Eco Excursion. These include guided forest walks, hiking, biking, guided runs and beekeeping workshops, just to name a few. The Eco Day Festival is also another chance for guests to get a taste of local produce, arts and crafts and sustainability workshops.
How does your work support local communities?
As a group, we source over 55% local and domestic produce for the hotels and we aim to support the local community as much as we can with a particular focus on supporting vulnerable families and children. In 2020 alone we supported over 35 charities and organisations, such as schools and hospitals. Initiatives included outfitting a local paediatric trauma unit, with over 18,000 kids so far benefiting from it, establishing a centre for abused women in Athens with the Salvation Army, renovating the kitchens of two Syrian unaccompanied refugee hostels up to a professional standard or offering scholarships to local farmers so that they can gain expertise to farm in a more sustainable manner.
How do you protect the natural environment?
Set within a 1,000 acre eco-reserve, Sani Resort is surrounded by natural beauty with pine-fringed beaches, the Sani Forest and the Sani Wetlands, home to 225 bird species, many of them rare and endangered. With sustainability at the heart of our vision, Sani Resort is dedicated to preserving this beautiful environment through our sustainability programme, Sani Green. Through key initiatives in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we continuously work to improve our sustainability performance throughout the resort in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy use, water conservation, waste minimisation and sustainable procurement.
We are also committed to providing educational eco-activities for all guests and the local community on protecting the environment and the resort’s remarkable landscape. To do this, we have partnered with pre-eminent experts and NGOs in the field, such as Birdlife International Partners, the Hellenic Ornithological Society, with whom we have been working on protecting the wetlands for close to ten years, or iSea, our partners in marine protection, with whom we have launched the Thermaikos Dolphin Project, a project aiming to document the resident dolphin population of our waters.
How do you think Covid has changed the way that people will travel?
I hope that Covid has served as a wake-up call for many. The idea that we can live well and be healthy on a planet that is failing has been disproven in an experiential way for all of us. Climate change is expected to bring about further pandemics, natural disasters, wildfires, floods etc. It is imperative that we put sustainability on the forefront in every purchasing decision we make. This is the case in travelling too. While people are eager to get back to travelling, I think and hope that this will be in a more mindful way, especially within the younger generations who are incredibly aware of climate change and the environmental impacts of travel.
What are your plans for the rest of 2021 and 2022?
Looking into the future we are very much focused on our triple zero goal, which as aforementioned we are driving significant resources towards. In 2021 we are extending or launching some new initiatives, such as supporting vulnerable women coming out of this incredibly difficult lockdown period, as well as local families in need, in partnership with several charities in the field. We are also working on expanding some of our biodiversity projects, for example the Thermaikos Dolphin Project, and enabling guests to also take part in dolphin watching excursions, as well as a new project that involves bee protection. We’re excited to be recognised for our work by the World Travel Awards 2020 as World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort and by Marie Claire Sustainability Awards 2021 as the Best Sustainable Hotel-National Group.
Sani Resort Greece
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Eleni Andreadis is a sustainability specialist, author and the Group Director of Sustainability and CSR for Sani Resort and Ikos Resorts. All images provided by Sani Resort.