Our sustainability strategy

The Swiss Youth Hostels are committed to sustainability. Sustainability is an integral part of our organisation philosophy when dealing with stakeholder groups, designing our products and ensuring environmental protection. We believe that sustainability means taking into account not only social and ethical issues, but also the sensible use of resources.

  • Social aspects

    – Our prices are set in a way that ensures that services will remain affordable, while still guaranteeing good quality and fair wages.
    – Our products and services are designed in such a way that allows anyone to stay at a youth hostel.
    – When constructing and running our youth hostels, we don’t just take the needs of our guests into account, we consider the consequences for our partners, neighbours and the locations, too.

  • Economy

    Swiss Youth Hostels is a non-profit organisation. Our services are designed in a way that allows us to generate enough revenue to ensure security for our employees and to nurture the development potential of our organisation.

  • Ecology

    – The results speak for themselves: the energy consumption and emissions resulting from all Swiss Youth Hostels’ activities – whether in construction, operations or sales – are truly groundbreaking.
    – We place great value on applying sustainability principles along the entire value chain.

Swisstainable - Sustainable travel in Switzerland

A sustainability programme for everyone!

Swisstainable serves as our guide to a responsible world of travel. Switzerland Tourism’s sustainability programme does not aim to create a new certification, but rather to provide more orientation for you as guests.

Almost 40 youth hostels have received the certificate for the highest level “Level III-leading” from the Switzerland Tourism sustainability programme.

We will keep focussed on our long-standing sustainability strategy so that all of our 50 or so hostels will soon be awarded with Level III.

News about sustainability

  • Recertification and award with the ibex fairstay gold label

    The Avenches and Montreux Youth Hostels can be proud of their recertification and for being awarded the ibex fairstay gold label.

  • Gstaad Youth Hostel receives platinum certification from Ibex Fairstay

    Thanks to extensive improvements in various business areas, Gstaad-Saanenland Youth Hostel has achieved the next highest level of the Ibex Fairstay award.

  • Lugano Youth Hostel receives gold certification from ibex fairstay

    Thanks to comprehensive improvements in the areas of ecology and social issues, Lugano Youth Hostel has now been awarded gold certification from the ibex fairstay sustainability label.

Our sustainability partners

We work with the following sustainability partners:

  • Max Havelaar
    Since 1 December 2008, Swiss Youth Hostels has stocked products bearing the Fairtrade seal of approval from the Max Havelaar Foundation.
  • Since 2008, together with myclimate, SYH has given guests the option of compensating for the unavoidable emissions of their stay.
  • Swiss Youth Hostels defines its emission targets in conjunction with the Energy Agency for Industry (EnAW).
  • Standards for healthy and ecological construction in Switzerland. Since the conversion of the Valbella Youth Hostel in Lenzerheide in 2006, Swiss youth hostels have been building according to ecobau standards.
  • Minergie
    As part of the extension and renovation of Zermatt Youth Hostel in Zermatt in 2003, this building was the first to be certified. Today, whenever possible and new buildings are built according to the Minergie with the Minergie-P-Eco standard whenever possible.
  • Solar
    Swissolar is the Swiss professional association for solar energy and represents the Swiss solar industry. The Swiss Youth Hostels have 20 solar hostels equipped with modules or collectors.
  • The support association ‘Barrier-free Switzerland’ is the coordinating body for information about barrier-free tourism.
  • öbu is the Swiss association for sustainable economic activity. Its members include around 360 companies, organisations and institutions.
  • With the KulturLegi, people on a tight budget receive discounts of 30 to 70 per cent on over 3,600 offers throughout Switzerland. Also with us.
  • Swiss gymnastics federation
  • "Tree by Tree" is the motto of the Aargau-based fashion label NIKIN. Since 2016, the company has been producing sustainable, durable and timeless products. In addition, a tree is planted for every product sold.

New climate offset project for our guest carbon offsetting

Anyone staying at Swiss Youth Hostels can voluntarily offset their stay. We double this carbon offset and the final amount goes into a fund for our cooperation with the initiative «Cause We Care» from myclimate for local and global climate protection.
Starting in January, we will invest part of the carbon offset contribution in a new project, the global climate offset project «Reforestation in Tanzania».
This project secures the land rights of the indigenous population. It will strengthen the implementation of community land use plans through forest conservation activities.
So, continue to compensate diligently so that together we can create real added value for nature and the environment – after all, for us, sustainability is a reality!

myclimate Cause We Care

On average, a night at a Swiss youth hostel is 10 times more environmentally friendly than a night at a five-star hotel. As a non-profit organisation, we have dedicated ourselves to sustainability. We are continually reducing our environmental footprint in all areas while still ensuring a flawless service for our guests.

Climafriendy heating with wood

Heating with wood and climate-friendly? Yes it is possible, but how? We asked Hans-Urs Häfeli (Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism SFST) what Swiss Youth Hostels are doing for the climate – and why wood pellets are a climate-friendly heating option.


Distinctions and awards

We feel greatly honoured to have received numerous different awards. Swiss Youth Hostels is happy and grateful for all of this recognition. You can view the most important awards here:

  • Niesen Summit
    2022: Special prize for the "Sustainability Strategy 2007" at the Niesen Summit.
  • 2021 ICOMOS Special Award as part of the «Historic Restaurant/Hotel of the Year».
  • Audience Award 2021 for the conversion of Burgdorf Castle inclusive the youth hostel.
  • "Best of ibex fairstay 2021" Category: Highest total score
    Best of ibex fairstay 2021 - In 2021, the Swiss Youth Hostels received two awards. The award for the best regional foundation went to Pontresina Youth Hostel and the highest score was achieved by Zurich Youth Hostel.
  • «Best of ibex fairstay 2020»
    Best of ibex fairstay 2020 goes to St. Moritz Youth Hostel. Thanks to its strong commitment to the responsible use of resources.
  • HI Quality & Sustainability
    [Translate to Englisch:] Hostelling International | «The most Sustainable National Association»
  • Special award for our long-standing commitment and achievements towards environmental and climate protection, received on 12 January 2016.
  • myclimate Award as a ‘pioneer for integrated climate protection in the hotel industry’.
  • Second place in the Green Accommodation Initiative at the Global Youth Travel Awards 2016.
  • Watt d'Or 2015
    On 8 January 2015, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy awarded us the Watt d’Or in the category ‘Buildings and Space’.
  • 2015: The wellnessHostel4000 received third place in the wood-based award in the central Switzerland category.
  • 2022: Awarded with the special prize at the Niesen Summit 2014: Awarded for the wellnessHostel4000. 2007: Milestone in Switzerland: tourism award for our sustainability strategy.
  • 2013: Basel Youth Hostel received the Good Building Award from the cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Landschaft.
  • Best Hostel 2013’ was awarded to Interlaken Youth Hostel. And as if that wasn’t enough: ‘Most Comfortable Hostel 2013’ also went to Interlaken.
  • 2012: Special award for the renovation and extension of the St. Moritz Youth Hostel.
  • 2012: The 50 best Swiss annual reports, winner of the NPO category.
  • In 2011, SYH received the ZKB Sustainability Award for SMEs. This award takes economic, environmental and social aspects into consideration.
  • Swiss Solar Prize 2011 in the area of personalities/institutions for comprehensive environmental management and a pioneering role in environmentally compatible tourism.
  • 2010: Award for the best integration of CO2 compensation.
  • 2010: Awarded to Scuol Youth Hostel: overall winner, category winner in Hotels, Restaurants, and the special Green Technology award.
  • In 2008, Youth Hostel Zurich was singled out for its ‘successful conversion from the 1960s, as well as its outstanding corporate philosophy in social tourism’.


Sustainability is our passion. We love to implement projects that promote sustainable tourism. We are happy to entertain you with tips and stories about sustainability in tourism. Learn more about how we live sustainability and how you can contribute.