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Natural Step works for European hotel chain

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Second, that "Substances produced by society must not systematically increase in nature" – substances must not be created at a faster rate than they can be broken down. Otherwise, it will lead to the spread and accumulation of substances, and could cause irreversible changes. This means decreased production of natural substances that are accumulating out of a balance with nature and the phasing out of all persistent and unnatural substances such as plastic, freon or PCBs.

Third, that "The physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not be systematically diminished" – in other words, we can’t harvest from our ecosystems in such a way that their productive capacity and diversity diminish. Our future health and prosperity rely on the capacity of nature to reconcentrate and restructure waste back into resources. That means changes to agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries, and better society planning.

Fourth, that we must endorse "Just and efficient use of energy and other resources" – meeting human needs with fewer demands on our resources, and through a fairer distribution. This is necessary for social stability and co-operation in making future changes and means increased technical and organizational efficiency and more resource-friendly lifestyles in wealthier regions.

Among the speakers at the seminar was Ola Ivarsson, senior vice president and managing director of Scandic Europe, a hotel chain with more than 100 locations in 10 countries. Ivarsson believes that The Natural Step program could work well in Whistler if local business and hotels come on board.

"I’ve seen the Natural Step have some great impacts in many different situations, and from what I have seen, it should be successful here as well."

Scandic was the first hotel chain to adopt The Natural Step program, in 1993. Ivarsson says it has been a large part of the hotel chain’s recent success.

"We started the program because we got some customer feedback, especially from Germany and Denmark. In those two countries, there was market pressure and customer pressure to move on this, and we started to look into environmental programs."

The Natural Step has also been instrumental in recruiting exceptional staff, generally university graduates who understand environmental issues and would rather work for a corporation that is doing something positive. Once Scandic had the will and committed the resources, all the company had to do was find the way.

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