SSA takes lead in new Wellness to Climate Action programme, backed by the UN

The Sustainable Spa Association is taking the lead in a new programme designed to help the spa and wellness sector reach net zero by 2050. 

Wellness for Climate Action (WCA) is a new global, sectoral campaign initiated by The SSA and guided by the United Nations Climate Change Committee (UNFCCC). WCA will help drive measured impact towards carbon reduction and, ultimately, net zero over the next decades. 

With the launch of WCA, the spa and wellness sector joins a number of other industry sectors – such as textiles, travel and events – in setting up similar processes. The UNFCCC secretariat will guide the process, making sure that the WCA provides accurately calculated and measured sets of targets with a clear set of actions and commitments, in order to achieve the goals of decarbonising the spa and wellness sector.

The SSA has initiated the campaign and will take responsibility for the organisation, momentum and communications, however, it is a collective industry-owned campaign which has the full support of the UNFCCC. As part of this, the SSA will be joined by a group of international spa and wellness leaders who will contribute towards the WCA’s success. 

The initiative has already received support from a diverse group of industry stakeholders – from spa operators, academics, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and trade bodies to events organisers. This has helped provide a holistic, all-encompassing view of how the spa and wellness industry is both affected by climate change and also how it contributes to climate change through its activities and operations. 

The setting up of the WCA is extremely timely, as the SSA has become acutely aware of climate issues over the past 12 months, with a number of spas reporting how they have been affected in various geographical regions. 

Lucy Brialey, SSA co-founder, says: “Last year we witnessed wildfires and floods in many destinations, closing spa businesses, preventing distribution and travel and also causing danger to life and air quality. This is just one very clear indicator of how climate change is creeping into our everyday working lives. Other extreme weather conditions such as floods and hurricanes also affect destination spas all around the world.”

How will it work?

Working with the UNFCCC Secretariat means that the WCA’s guidance and pathway to net zero is targeted, measurable and impactful. Anything less could result in unmeasured action, misinformation, unintended consequences or greenwashing exercises.

The guided process provided by the WCA involves a detailed look into our overall sector carbon footprint through its daily business activities. The result will be that it will help the spa and wellness sector understand its carbon footprint in specific detail, so that stakeholders can actively work towards making the changes needed to minimise and eliminate the factors that contribute to further carbon production and climate change.

The register of committed spa and wellness businesses will be held by the UNFCCC, so that the collective impact can be measured and counted. Those businesses who are already working towards targets can add their calculations and those who aren’t – or don’t know where to start –  can be part of a supportive scheme where they can access advice and guidance.

Lucy Brialey says: “WCA will be a focused place for collective action to be measured and tracked. It will identify where our action is best directed over the length of its progress to 2050 and it will be a place for on-going sector specific advice on what to do next and how to do it.

“The SSA will promote activity and participation by offering a range of education and solutions for spa businesses. However, when the guidelines are set by the secretariat and collective member committee – so I want to stress that this campaign belongs to all of us.

“Collateral will be available for raising awareness and for educational purposes. Active global industry trade bodies, educational organisations or businesses will be able to hold wellness for climate action activities or incorporate it in their business education and communications.

“In short, Wellness for Climate Action will be a business resource for all and can be incorporated in many aspects of business activity.”

Getting involved

For spa businesses and brands wanting to get involved in WCA, the first step is to collect as much data as they can – as this will help calculate the industry’s footprint measurement. 

Lucy Brialey says that a soon-to-be-launched service will help with this. 

“The UNFCCC has asked us to issue a spa and wellness Carbon Calculator, which is suitable for operators, manufacturers and distributors,” she explains. 

“Companies and brands can simply input their business data, submit and share the calculator.  Taking part in this is one of the most important things we can do. 

“By doing this our brands and businesses will be part of a sector which is leading responsible business in a publicly transparent and accountable way.”

Getting involved in WCA – and having measures to cut carbon – will also benefit those taking part. While taking steps to implement business carbon offsetting and reduction policies is currently voluntary,  there is speculation, however, that it may become a legally required business measurement in the near future. 

Brialey says: “Making the decision to reduce your carbon footprint now means you are not only measuring, but able to get to grips with carbon reduction techniques for your business ahead of time. Reaching net zero will mean your business may be ahead of any speculated legal requirement later down the line.”

Learn more about wellness for climate action and other campaigns here.