Hotel operator joins forces with other leading names from across the business world to showcase the importance of sustainability at the Beyond COP21 Symposium staged in Dubai.
In line with its pioneering efforts to promote sustainability in the hospitality sector, The First Group and its lifestyle hotel brand, The First Collection, urged students from across Dubai to embrace climate action before it’s too late at the recent Beyond COP21 Symposium.
Conceived, developed and facilitated by Peter Milne, founder and director of Target4Green, the symposium series made its debut in Dubai in January 2016. Since then, it has played a key role in promoting sustainability while raising awareness of environmental conservation issues among students and teachers in schools across the world.
According to its founder, the event links the climate crisis to the crucial role of, and action on, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through a platform that supports whole school engagement, community outreach and corporate responsibility.
The most recent event supported by The First Group welcomed more than 200 students aged 11 to 14 from across Dubai, who gathered at GEMS Legacy School Secondary Campus in Garhoud to attend interactive workshops and listen to speakers from across the educational, environmental and corporate worlds, including Karim Abdelhamid, vice president of Hotel Operations for The First Group.
Karim provided the students with an informative overview of The First Group Hotels’ efforts to promote sustainability across every facet of its operations.
The First Group Hotels, which operates The First Collection upscale lifestyle properties in Jumeirah Village and Business Bay, alongside leading third-party hotels such as Wyndham Dubai Marina and TRYP by Wyndham Dubai, has launched a range of sustainable hospitality initiatives in recent years, including eliminating plastic bottle usage, actively reducing water and energy consumption and adopting waste recycling programmes across its hotel portfolio.
These efforts reflect The First Group’s broader commitment to sustainability in line with its Enriching Young Lives (EYL) corporate social responsibility programme. EYL aims to improve the outlook for underprivileged children through educational funding, training and support.
Other important initiatives have included installing energy-saving LED lighting in its hotels; introducing sustainably sourced and produced soaps and shampoos in hotel guestrooms and public areas; replacing 400,000 plastic containers with reusable items; and launching the ‘Recycling First’ waste management programme.
As Karim explained, these steps have helped reduce the operator’s environmental footprint, while reducing its collective carbon emissions output.
These claims are backed up by independent data provided by consultancy firm Sustainability Kiosk, which found that The First Group Hotels’ portfolio saw year-on-year declines in guest usage of energy and water resources in 2022.
Other keynote speakers at the event included Tatiana Antonelli Abella, founder and director of sustainable living specialist, Goumbook; Tara Golshan, director of Education at Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots; and Adrian Hayes, renowned polar explorer, adventurer and author.
The First Group also actively participated in the Beyond COP21 Symposium with its own exhibition stand, which showcased all of the company’s environmental initiatives and enabled the students to learn more about the firm’s operations in the UAE.
Students were also offered souvenirs including sustainably made pens, as well as a healthy lunch pack containing vegan wraps produced by The First Group’s award-winning café brand, Risen.
The annual Beyond COP21 Symposium underlines the practical efforts of campaigners to educate and mobilise youth and school communities in the lead up to the annual COP climate change talks, which this year will be staged in Dubai.
Declared one of “the most important events [ever] hosted by the UAE” by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, COP28 will showcase the UAE’s leading role in promoting sustainable development.