In the southern part of Central Europe, there is a country named Slovenia. This country is famous of its mountainous contour and continental climate. You might have heard about this country, or rather familiar with it.
This country has a significant part in history since it is the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance cultures. The country itself was part of many different empires, such as Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, and Carolingian Empire.
Geographically, the country is not only blessed with its mountainous contour. Slovenia, with its 20,273 kilometers square area, is touching both the Alps and the Mediterranean. Both gives the country incomparable beautiful scenery of nature.
Blessed with beauteous scenery of nature, no wonder Slovenia is a famous place for tourists to visit, especially those who love hiking activities. But what this country offer is not only the wonderful nature, there’s something else that this country can offer to those tourists: sustainability.
Leading Country In Sustainability
The year 2017 was declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by United Nations. This program was meant to encourage people to make sustainable tourism as one of the biggest economical resource and means to unify human for a better world.
“This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change,” quoted from International Year 2017 site.
There were many countries from all around the world mentioned in the global project. Those countries were considered to be the most sustainable countries to offer eye-pleasing scenery, cultural values, and mutual understanding, peace, and security.
To be mentioned in the project, every country had to fulfill some indicators, and there were 100 sustainability indicators used. This is when Slovenia stole the world’s attention, making them in the middle of the spotlight.
Many countries were only able to fulfill about 80 out of those 100 indicators. But Slovenia astoundingly succeeded to fulfill 96 of those 100. Without further thinking, United Nations granted the country the title of ‘World’s Most Sustainable Country’.
In size, Slovenia is smaller than many big cities in the world. Say for example, New Jersey in United States is 22,591 kilometers square, about 2,000 kilometers square bigger than Slovenia. But size doesn’t matter in the first place to make a country mentioned as the most sustainable one.
About 60% of Slovenia is covered in lush forests. In addition, there are more than 20,000 different animals and plants inhabiting the country’s 40 parks and reserves. Those are incredible numbers owned by a country not bigger than New Jersey.
“Be proud of your country and make sure together that your local place in Slovenia is also going to be proud five years from now of what it has achieved in keeping its character and its green, clean, authentic offer for travelers,” Green Destination founder Albert Salman told Slovenian in the awarding ceremony in 2016.
Not only the country itself, but the capital of Slovenia, which is also the biggest city in the country, Ljubljana was anointed as Europe’s Greenest Capital in 2016 by the same organization. It showed that the country’s effort to make its living as sustainable as possible has reached another level compared to other countries.
Sustainable tourism itself has been the main concern for Slovenian Tourist Board (STO). “Slovenia is becoming known in the international tourism community as a small country which is taking big steps in sustainable tourism,” said STO director Maja Pak.
How Sustainable Is It?
You might ask how sustainable is the country, and its capital, to be chosen as the most sustainable one among hundreds of other countries and millions of other cities in the world. Especially for Ljubljana’s title, Mun:planet has the data to show you.
The city collected 63% of separated waste and Ljubljana Regional Waste Management Centre is the largest in the country. This waste management centre collects and processes a third of Slovenia’s waste and prioritizes separation over incineration.
Not only that, the city center is prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists over cars and traffic which once covered the whole city. Only economically accessible city buses, which run on natural gas, are allowed to access the city center.
Natural gas is not only used to power the economically accessible buses in the city. About 74% of houses in Ljubljana are heated by natural gas, which is centralized by district heating. It reduces the consumption of fossil fuels which we know contribute the most to global carbon emission.
The city also progressively build more and more green spaces. A data showed that there are more than 500 square meters of public green space per resident in the city, and the number keeps on growing amid the growth of population. Imagine if every city in this world apply it, this world would be a greener planet.
Support By Government
What’s wonderful for this achievement for the country is that the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) didn’t work alone. They got enormous support from the government of Slovenia, the central and the local ones.
The support from the government helped the country to catch up with other countries which has been categorized as the most developed countries. Not only economical help, but the government of Slovenia also supported the tourist board from the environmental and social aspects.
That’s why, based on the achievement they got in 2016, this country is planning to elongate the good vibe. For 2018/2019 period, the country have planned its green tourism project called I Feel Slovenia.
There are 5 key objectives in I Feel Slovenia program, and each is meant to continue sustainable tourism. The first is making the country a tourist destination under the brand while continuing sustainable growth with openness to anyone 365 days a year.
Geographic dispersion to four macro destinations, increasing consumption and focusing on high-end visitors are also in the program. It proves that sustainable tourism, which was considered too high at some points of time, might be the best idea to solve global problems.