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About Us

 Sustainability Leaders United (formerly Sustainability Leaders Project – SLP) celebrates world’s sustainability champions and tourism changemakers. It offers a collection of interviews with world’s leading tourism and sustainability professionals who share their stories, experience and insights. Through our global network and panel of specialists we share up to date industry knowledge and answers to the most pressing issues affecting travel and tourism. And we help your organization or event as coaches, advisors and speakers.

SLU was founded in 2014 by Florian Kaefer and Natàlia Ferrer Roca, to encourage tourism professionals to embrace sustainability and to recognize its potential for making tourism more resilient and better for communities and the natural environment.

SLU is an independent, global knowledge and storytelling platform: managed by Florian Kaefer (Switzerland) and supported by collaborators around the world.

Our Impact

Some of our milestones so far

260+ changemaker stories

We believe in sharing stories, experiences and solutions. And we love to inspire and encourage tourism professionals to embrace sustainability.

From 69 countries

We take pride in connecting changemakers around the world, across borders, languages and cultures. We can all learn so much from each other!

Engagement leaders

Over 20k professionals engage with Sustainability Leaders United on LinkedIn and via our other social media communities.

Spotlight: Destinations

Finland

Finland consistently ranks as one of the most sustainable places on the planet. This is no surprise given that the country is home to vast amounts of natural beauty and a community of leaders taking concrete actions dedicated to preserving its resources and landscapes.

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Werfenweng

Werfenweng soft mobility destination Werfenweng, as a destination, is well known among tourism and sustainability professionals, having won multiple awards for its ‘soft mobility’ concept. In October 2018, we had the opportunity to get to know the small village (1,000 inhabitants) near Salzburg in Austria and to experience its approach to climate-friendly tourism. But why the focus on soft mobility and climate-friendly travel? And how does this alpine village, at an altitude of 900 meters with breath-taking mountain scenery, succeed in rallying stakeholders together to pursue this shared vision? During our visit, we caught up with Dr. Peter Brandauer, mayor of Werfenweng for almost 30 years and a staunch believer in innovation and responsible tourism. We also (earlier) met with Karmen Mentil, who has been consulting Werfenweng on its way towards soft mobility. In the interview, she tells us about the initiative Alpine Pearls, a network of small destinations across the European Alps – Werfenweng was among the first to join – dedicated to climate-friendly mobility and responsible tourism, one step at a time.

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Parc Ela

Switzerland is much liked and well known as a country and destination which offers spectacular natural landscapes and alpine experiences. Complementing our series of interviews with Swiss sustainable tourism champions, this time we take a closer look at Parc Ela, among Switzerland’s most pristine and largest regional nature parks, with rich cultural heritage. Having been created only recently, Destination Parc Ela in Eastern Switzerland’s canton of Grisons (Graubünden), is firmly committed to promoting sustainable tourism and responsible travel.

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Basque Country

Welcome to our Basque Country sustainable tourism stories and examples. During our destination visit of the Basque Country in November 2015, we had the opportunity to witness first hand, how this region is taking steps towards sustainable tourism development, and how pioneering accommodation providers have created examples of best practice – points of reference for the destination’s ambition to become a leader in sustainability. We also gained a unique insight into the political economy of destination stewardship by talking to various key stakeholders during the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20 conference in Vitoria-Gasteiz. For the Basque Country, developing strategies for sustainable economic development through responsible tourism isn’t just about market share and competitiveness. It is a chance to offer opportunities and to maintain peace in a region whose people and reputation have suffered from terrorism and violence for far too long. Here are some of the stories of tourism professionals who are helping Basque Country in developing the image of a forward-thinking destination with sustainability and ecotourism at its core.

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Slovenia

uch loved and admired for its natural beauty, Slovenia as a destination has become a mecca for outdoor lovers and adventure travelers. Its capital, Ljubljana, is widely regarded as a role model for urban sustainable development, not least thanks to its car-free inner city which brought urban life back to the center. While some destinations in Slovenia, like Podčetrtek, are well established, others – such as Bela Krajina and Kočevsko in the south – are just starting to develop their unique positioning. But what exactly are the challenges of building and managing a sustainable tourism business – for example an eco-farm – or a destination? Who are the changemakers – professionals going the extra mile? And what role do tour guides play, as agents for change? To get answers to those and other questions, we caught up with Slovenian tourism leaders and sustainability changemakers.

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Barcelona

Barcelona is a destination which needs little introduction, thanks to its international fame. Situated in the northeast of Spain on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the capital of Catalonia entered the world stage as the host of the 1992 Olympic Games, which is when its tourism success story began. In recent years, Barcelona has been increasingly suffering from overcrowded public spaces and disgruntled residents, due to its success as a tourist destination. Faced with those challenges, Barcelona’s destination managers and marketers, together with the City Council are on a mission to find solutions and to promote tourism that is more responsible and sustainable. Below the stories of professionals who are helping Barcelona in its transition towards a socially and ecologically sustainable city and destination.

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Príncipe Island

The little-known African country of São Tomé and Príncipe is a former Portuguese colony comprised by two islands, the smaller of which – Principe – is eager to build itself a reputation as a destination firmly committed to sustainable practices: a biosphere reserve attracting environmentally conscious, discerning travelers from around the world. But what exactly are the challenges of building and managing a remote island destination sustainably? To get answers to those and other questions, we caught up with Príncipe tourism leaders and sustainability changemakers.

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Switzerland

Much loved and admired for its natural beauty, Switzerland is a destination high up on wishlists of travellers around the world, especially and increasingly also Asians. But how does the country’s popularity as a tourism destination affect its sustainability? How are its mountain destinations adapting to the consequences of climate change, such as less snow? And how are Switzerland’s hotels and other tourism businesses living up to the high expectations of environmentally conscious travellers?

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Book: Sustainability Leadership in Tourism

This professional guidebook highlights sustainable tourism development and management for businesses and destinations. It presents a unique collection of expert interviews, combined with latest insights and thoughts on the most relevant topics and trends linked to sustainability in tourism, sustainable business management, and destination development. This is a book which offers inspiring personal stories and reflections, and at the same time serves as essential know-how guide for busy tourism entrepreneurs, managers, and developers who care about business resilience and the well-being of destination communities.

Latest Insights

Sustainable tourism know how

Innovation for Tourism Sustainability: Challenges to Overcome

Innovation for tourism sustainability: which are the key challenges and barriers to overcome? Sustainable tourism panel shares ideas.

Innovation for Tourism Sustainability: Priorities & Opportunities

Innovation for tourism sustainability: which are the priorities and opportunities in the next years? Sustainable tourism specialists share their views.

Innovation for Tourism Sustainability: Examples and Solutions

Innovation for tourism sustainability: we asked our panel of sustainable tourism experts which are their favorite innovative destinations and initiatives focused on regenerative tourism.

Testimonials