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Accreditation for environmental awareness

Centara Hotels & Resorts group, which won EarthCheck's 2013 Silver Certification for 10 hotels, aims to boost the number of accredited hotels to 15 next year.

EarthCheck sets the benchmarks for environmental awareness and conservation for the international hospitality industry. It operates an environmental management system, a series of practical tools for the certification of operational practices.

Eight of the properties are part of Centara's five-star Grand portfolio, including all of the self-owned Grand hotels, fulfilling a corporate target one year ahead of schedule.

"Green and sustainable tourism is at the heart of our corporate culture, and we have been working with EarthCheck for several years to ensure that we operate all of our hotels to strict environmental standards," said Thirayuth Chirathivat, Centara's chief executive officer.

"We have set our own internal targets for progressing through the certification levels, and it gives all of us immense satisfaction to say that our targets are being achieved.

"Our target for 2015 is to have a total of 15 hotels with Silver Certification, including all of the self-owned Hotels & Resorts core brand."

The environmental performance of each property is monitored against policy, benchmarking the indicators against baseline and best practices. The environmental and social impact is measured through the EarthCheck online self-assessment. All results are assessed and verified by third-party auditors on an annual basis.

To achieve Silver Certification, all participating hotels are required to have a sustainable policy in place and to implement an environmental action plan for proper monitoring and measurements on 10 key performance areas. These are greenhouse-gas emissions, energy efficiency, management of freshwater resources, ecosystem conservation and management, social and cultural management, land-use planning and management, air-quality protection, wastewater management, solid-waste management, and elimination of environmentally harmful substances.

Hanoi outlines plans to develop green metropolis

Vietnam recently announced a comprehensive plan to improve green spaces, parks and gardens in the capital city Hanoi, Viet Nam News reports. According to the plan announced by the city's People's Committee, 18 new parks and gardens will be built and 42 existing areas will be upgraded around the capital.

Places set for upgrades include Dong Da Park, Bach Thao Park and Ha Noi Zoo.

The plan also aims to increase the green-tree rate in old apartment complexes to at least 1 square metre per person, a rate that the city has been struggling to achieve since the introduction of the Vietnam Construction Standard in 2008.

At the same time, seven park zones are planned in the extended urban core area, which runs from the Red River to the Fourth Ring Road.

Me Linh district's Quang Minh-Chi Dong zone is expected to be transformed into an area of industrial ecological parks, helping local people to continue making a living from the land.

Construction of sport parks for professionals as well as public use will get under way in the Van Khe-Me Linh and Xuan Canh-Dong Hoi zones, including stadiums, indoor and outdoor games complexes, and a multifunctional cultural centre that may be used for the Asian Games in 2019.

Etihad amenity kits win sustainability award

Etihad Airways' artisan amenity kits have won an "Ethically Sustainable Amenity Kit" prize at the annual Travelplus gala awards ceremony in Hamburg.

Launched in February, the new kits are the result of Etihad Airways' partnership with Sougha, a social enterprise initiative launched by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, which aims to preserve Emirati traditions and promote local artisans. The new amenity bags are offered in Diamond First, Pearl Business and Coral Economy Class cabins and feature patterns of Sadou, a colourful, intricate and centuries-old Abu Dhabi weaving craft traditionally used on blankets, cushions and Bedouin tents.

"Sougha means 'a traveller's gift' in Arabic and we introduced our new amenity kits to provide something uniquely Arabian to our guests and, more importantly, as a way of supporting and celebrating local Emirati craftsmanship," said Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer of Etihad Airways.

"Our partnership with the Khalifa Fund has helped us to promote the diverse artistic heritage of the United Arab Emirates on a global stage, and to simultaneously empower local craftsmen and women in their communities. We are delighted to receive the Travelplus Award in recognition of this."

Ceres proposes reporting standards for stock exchanges

Sustainability advocacy group Ceres, in collaboration with BlackRock and other major institutional investors across the globe, has announced an initiative to engage global stock exchanges, via the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), on a uniform standard for sustainability reporting by all exchange members.

The group released the "Investor Listing Standards Proposal: Recommendations for Stock Exchange Requirements on Corporate Sustainability Reporting", which includes specific recommendations for incorporating environmental and social disclosure requirements into listing rules for publicly traded companies.

The proposal has been formally submitted to stock exchanges in conjunction with the launch of an exchange comment period that will run for several months. The WFE will collect exchanges' feedback on the Investor Listing Standards Proposal.

The proposal was developed through consultation with more than 100 institutional investors from six continents, including many of the world's largest pension funds.

The start of the exchange comment period coincides with the announcement that the WFE has launched a Sustainability Working Group.

"We need a joint solution that will help bring more consistent and comparable information to all markets, and will not leave any one exchange at a competitive disadvantage for taking leadership in this space," Nasdaq OMX CEO Robert Greifeld said.

Gwen Le Berre, vice president of corporate governance and responsible investment at BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, said: "Cross-border collaboration by stock exchanges will help shift public companies towards more comparable and meaningful disclosure of ESG [environmental, social and governance] risk factors. This will enable investors to more accurately value companies and make better informed investment decisions."

New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, added: "A global standard for sustainability reporting would give investors data to assess performance and risk, while allowing exchanges and companies to address specific market regulations and cultures."

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, stressed: "The time has come for a broadly adopted sustainability disclosure standard - one that moves beyond voluntary approaches."

Ceres is a non-profit organisation that advocates for sustainability leadership in the financial markets. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which represents more than 100 investors with US$12 trillion in assets under management.


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