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07 Dec 2023

Aruba's Trailblazing Hotel Awarded Exclusive Invitation to UN COP28 for Achieving, Not Just Pledging, Environmental Milestones

In a world of sustainability promises, one small resort on Aruba has already accomplished delivering a climate-positive holiday experience.

The result - Aruba’s Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, the Caribbean’s first and only certified carbon-neutral hotel, has received a special invitation from the United Nations to be on the world stage at COP28, deemed the world’s most critical climate event of the year.


Accepting the invitation, Bucuti & Tara Owner/CEO Ewald Biemans will attend COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. More than 70,000 are expected to attend, focusing on the health of the planet and humanity’s well-being. As the sole independent hotelier invited to be a launch signatory of the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism at COP26, Biemans will meet with attendees on Dec. 10 and 11 helping others to embark on the universally accepted climate goals.


Why an independent hotel sets the blueprint for global impact and leadership

Having just marked its 36th anniversary, Bucuti & Tara is a 104-room, independent, owner-managed hotel. The resort is dedicated to romance, wellness and sustainability. The trailblazing property hums along at 97%+ occupancy year round, is the Caribbean’s most eco-certified hotel and is on its way to becoming carbon negative, and is heralded for its superior service including being Tripadvsior’s 2023 No. 1 Hotel in the Caribbean and No. 18 Best Hotel in the World. Under Biemans’ leadership, Bucuti & Tara continues to prove that memorable vacations, business success and sustainability can be mutually inclusive.


Biemans was captivated by the UN’s 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. Inspired to take sustainability action at Bucuti & Tara, the resort began creating a framework with eco-certifications ultimately including Green Globe Platinum, Travelife Gold, LEED Gold v4.1 and in 2018, it became the Caribbean’s first and remains its only carbon-neutral hotel. Its pioneering work led to Bucuti & Tara becoming the first hotel to receive a Global UN Climate Action Award, where upon receiving it at COP26, Biemans was the sole independent hotelier invited to be a launch signatory for the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism, a sector that represents 7.6% of the world’s GDP and 8% of its carbon footprint.


United Nations: Bucuti & Tara’s sustainability program is “highly replicable and scalable”

Upon announcing Bucuti & Tara as a Global UN Climate Action Award winner at COP26, the UN declared the resort’s sustainability program “highly replicable and scalable,” encouraging hotels worldwide to follow. In recent years, Biemans has been an invited speaker and panelist at World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summits in Spain, Mexico, Manila, Saudi Arabia and this year’s summit in Rwanda.


This Nov. 2023, Biemans was the featured guest on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s webinar series, In Conversation With. During the interview, followed by questions, Biemans shared the resort’s experiences, challenges and opportunities of how to develop and implement its climate action plan. This complemented the organisation’s One Planet Network case study, How Certification has Steered Bucuti & Tara’s Climate Action.


Climate financing and reining in fossil fuels to top the agenda.

As a small resort on a small island, Aruba along with the greater Caribbean community, minimally contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, yet it finds itself on the front lines battling climate change. The very coastlines that attract the world’s sunseekers are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise, and loss of marine life and nature. If the world cannot reverse global warming, in just 20 - 30 years, the beachfront resort will likely find seawater lapping at its back doors.


Biemans recognises every hotel faces its unique set of challenges in the collective fight against climate change. He will share with COP28 attendees how the pressing need to become carbon neutral and ultimately net zero can happen even in challenging circumstances whether it is figuring out first steps or overcoming obstacles in well-established programs. For Bucuti & Tara, while the resort’s Aruba home is famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise waters, it is largely void of resources and the resort itself has a modest budget. The resort's own challenges include importing most supplies, working within bureaucracies, and innovating clean energy solutions when it is much easier to stay “plugged in” to damaging, yet readily accessible fossil fuels. He will cover how to finance sustainability initiatives, often cited as an obstacle.


"The invitation from the United Nations for Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort to showcase our sustainability program at COP28 is a deeply appreciated acknowledgement. It marks our commitment to contribute actively to the global battle against climate change, offering support to fellow hotels in implementing robust solutions aligned with the principles of the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism," shares Ewald Biemans, Owner/CEO of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba.

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