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Les Villages Nature® Paris, a unique, eco-tourism destination in France, Europe was awarded silver at the WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards on Wednesday 6 November 2019.
The green resort, powered by geothermal energy, won silver for ‘Best for Reducing Carbon & other Greenhouse Gases’ in its quest to minimise its ecological footprint in consideration with the current global issues.
The World Responsible Tourism Awards are presented to an audience of 600 key influencers and decision makers at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London every year. They are the centre piece of WTM Responsible Tourism Day – the biggest responsible tourism event globally.
Bruno Guth, the General Director of Les Villages Nature® Paris, was presented the much coveted award. The panel of judges was chaired by WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, Harold Goodwin.
Guth, on receiving the esteemed prize, said: “I’m really proud and honoured to receive this award for Les Villages Nature Paris. And delighted to be general manager for such a beautiful destination. At Les Villages Nature Paris, we take care of the environment every day and we like to share our good ideas with our guest and our team. The resort is definitely more successful because of our ‘environmental and friendly’ combination which gives everyone who visits wonderful memories.
Thanks to the group, to the team, to our partners Bioregional / One Planet Living and to our guests to help us to make Les Villages Nature Paris such an incredible place”.
Having opened on 1 September 2017, Les Villages Nature® Paris is situated 32 km from Paris and 6 km from Disneyland® Paris. Designed by Euro Disney S.C.A. and Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group, the resort – made up of five different worlds – combines nature, architecture, sustainability and learning; it is designed for guests to immerse themselves in experiences, make the most of the great outdoors and discover something new.
Ever since Les Villages Nature® Paris was created, the team has ensured all resources have been managed in a responsible way with sustainable tourism at its heart. This can be seen throughout the resort: car-free landscape of lakes, woodlands, meadows and gardens where wildflowers are allowed (and encouraged) to grow, nine beehives produce 400 kg of honey each year, the buildings are coated in vibrant vertical wall gardens and the incredible geothermal energy keeps the water park, known as the Aqualagon®, at a toasty 30°C throughout the year. These green values are emphasised to the guests as well, with many of the activities (more than 100 in total) designed to encourage time spent with nature, boost knowledge of the ecosystem and take away some key life skills. In addition, the resort is easily accessible by public transport; sited three miles from Marne-la-Vallée Chessy (TGV / RER / Eurostar) guests can visit easily, plus it’s less than three hours from London St Pancras station via Eurostar.
Because of this, Les Villages Nature® Paris’ ambition for sustainable development is unparalleled in Europe. 28,000 new trees and 430,000 new shrubs were planted and circa 2.5 miles of banks, next to the lake, have been constructed to create habitat and enhance biodiversity. Existing woodlands were conserved and an ecological corridor was created on the south part of the park by rehabilitating 20 hectares of natural habitats to increase the spread of the species. Today, onsite biodiversity is monitored and followed by a local team of experts. Regarding construction: 12,000 tonnes of CO2 was avoided through the use of timber and low-carbon concrete and 97% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. In addition, well-planned filtering gardens treats some of the water from the Aqualagon so it can be released into the onsite lake or diverted from sewage treatment. Lastly, the resort gains 100% of its heat from geothermal energy – and as of 2018, it shares this incredible energy source with Disneyland® Paris.
Much of Les Villages Nature® Paris’ achievement can be attributed to its strong partnership with renowned environmental organisation, Bioregional. Bioregional was founded as a charity and social enterprise by Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai in South London in 1994; the duo wanted to create more sustainable ways of living. Therefore, in 2003, Bioregional – with the World Wildlife Fund – launched One Planet Living, a straightforward framework designed to show how people can live happily within the Earth’s means. Composed of 10 simple concepts that cover all aspects of social, environmental and economic sustainability, there are now nearly 600,000 people around the world residing in, working at or visiting associations and communities intent on accomplishing the One Planet Living way of life.
Les Villages Nature® Paris has used One Planet Living for more than a decade of design, planning and construction and is well on its way to achieving a series of goals set in 2006 (for completion in 2020). These targets consist of accomplishing zero carbon, continuing to preserve local flora and fauna, showcasing Les Villages Nature® Paris’ commitment to green development to guests (and encouraging them to do the same) and working with local communities and schools to spread the sustainable work.
Influenced by the One Planet Living approach, Bioregional also helps corporations work towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 (for the year 2030). The SDGs cover the same themes as One Planet Living, but at country level, looking at more specific themes rather than broad ecological principles (*see table below).
Having embedded the One Planet Living principles from the beginning, Les Villages Nature® Paris is closely aligned with the SDGs and is well placed to demonstrate ways in which the objectives are being met.
Overall, its durable partnership with Bioregional and resilient eco-friendly DNA makes the identity of Les Villages Nature® Paris what it is today and will be forevermore.
Benjamin Gill, One Planet Living Manager, says: “From the outset, Les Villages Nature Paris set out to create a new kind of holiday by immersing its one million visitors a year in nature while minimising its impact on the planet. The fact that the goals set in 2006 have led to Les Villages Nature Paris being at the forefront of sustainability in 2019 shows just how ambitious that original vision was. It has been a great journey to work with the team who constantly rise to the challenge of embedding all aspects of the vision into the design and operational strategy of the resort. Now that the sustainable infrastructure is in place the challenge moves onto embedding the sustainable operations strategy. This involves collaborating with all the key stakeholders; the clients, partners and contractors. Particular focus areas are reducing waste and promoting sustainable transport”.