Carbon Offsetting is, in essence, paying others to prevent, reduce or remove carbon emissions in order to compensate for one’s own emissions. It is therefore unsurprising that “carbon offsetting” has received such bad press, giving the impression that a business is just avoiding taking responsibility for its own actions.
My impression is that while some may continue to “pay to pollute’’, more businesses are turning to carbon offsetting to complement genuine action to reduce their impacts.
The pitfalls of offsetting
Of course, it is more complex than that. Businesses need to guarantee that the chosen offset is genuine, permanent, accountable, and measurable. It can be difficult to verify that projects are actually offsetting as much carbon as needed. Offsets also have to demonstrate that the emission reduction or carbon removal would not have taken place anyway, and that the investment makes a genuine additional contribution. There are even instances where offsetting programmes cause more harm than good, for instance by decreasing biodiversity through infrastructure impacts or monoculture tree planting, which could result in higher net emissions over time. It certainly pays to check before you buy to ensure your investments deliver.
Can you offset biodiversity impacts?
The market for biodiversity offsets is not as mature as the carbon one, but it is clearly subject to similar complexities and uncertainties, probably to an even greater extent. In ANIMONDIAL’s most recent publication with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Nature Positive Travel & Tourism, offsetting was acknowledged as a limited part of a business’ commitment to Nature Positive Tourism. This is because it is considered unreliable by many experts, and in the case of biodiversity does not directly address the impacts on species, habitats and ecosystem services that are being compensated for.
Mitigate, mitigate, mitigate
Instead, we advocate that businesses identify their dependencies and impacts on nature (including their carbon emissions) and then, using the ‘mitigation hierarchy’ (see page 39 of the Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report), to prioritise their responses. This involves first avoiding or reducing both direct impacts and indirect impacts from the value chain, then taking efforts to restore biodiversity after damage has taken place or, if necessary, conduct equivalent restoration at a nearby or ecologically similar location. Only after these steps is offsetting a suitable approach to balancing remaining negative impacts. Offsetting is therefore recommended as a limited action taken as a last resort, and certainly not the only mitigating action.
Is there any place for offsetting?
In the case of carbon emissions, the Net Zero Standard set out by the Science Based Targets Initiative recommends offsetting no more than 10% of emissions, with at least 90% of savings coming from avoiding and reducing emissions. Many leading companies commit to offsetting no more than 5%.
What is the role of biodiversity in carbon offsetting?
Biodiversity loss and nature protection continue to be widely disconnected from most conversations about carbon emission reduction, despite the fact that many of the most cost-efficient, large-scale and long-term emissions reductions or removals are nature-based solutions. In 2021, the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts acknowledged that biodiversity loss and climate change mutually reinforce each other and can only be tackled together. Businesses, particularly those in Travel &Tourism, should therefore consider how to harness the power of nature (its natural ability to absorb and store carbon) to both offset their emissions and contribute to their biodiversity, as well as sustainable development goals.
Making the most of minimal offsets
Increasingly, carbon offset projects are available that also provide biodiversity and social impact benefits. This can be an efficient way to contribute to multiple Nature Positive goals at once, but it should never be used as a way to side-step more effective mitigation activities. The old saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ still applies – it is far better to avoid doing the damage in the first place than to try to make up for it afterwards.
Mitigation Hierarchy Tips for impacts on nature:
- Focus on avoiding impacts by changing activities at a fundamental level – consider what outcomes the activities are intended to produce and think of other ways of achieving these.
- Maximise reduction activities with bold goals for the level of reduction – combine a range of techniques in optimal ways to get the best results.
- Restoration activities should be done on-site, for instance by replanting natural vegetation in areas that have been damaged during construction works.
- For areas that cannot be restored on site, find ways to restore equivalent natural features nearby that provide similar habitats and ecosystem services.
- Only offset as a last resort, using credible, long-term investments – where possible combine this with carbon offsetting if required.
» Learn about Mitigation Hierarchy and the Nature Positive Tourism approach
» Identify your dependencies and impacts on nature
» Learn about 5 carbon reduction actions to achieve Net Zero by ANIMONDIAL, Partner ecollective
Making the transition from Sustainable Tourism to ‘Nature Positive Tourism’
When I speak to Travel & Tourism professionals on the importance of Nature Positive Tourism, it is clear many are just overwhelmed by the sheer number of targets required to protect both ‘people and planet’. From ending poverty and single-use plastics to managing energy consumption and animal interactions or halting biodiversity loss and carbon emissions, the expectation on tourism businesses to understand and adopt so many ‘sustainability’ measures can create gridlock.
How to BREAK The Gridlock
This was a key consideration when ANIMONDIAL co-drafted the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report “Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” and developed its accompanying Toolbox.
Not only were we providing businesses with a step-by-step guide on how to adopt a Nature Positive approach, but we also wanted to encourage a “bigger picture” perspective on sustainability planning. All too often, the sustainability approach focuses on generic, mainstream issues rather than considering the individual business’ impact, its environmental strategy and which issues are most relevant to achieving it.
How to ACT for Nature
Fundamentally, nature loss is not just an environmental issue but something that threatens our economies and societies too. Biodiversity loss threatens everything that ensures our prosperity, wellbeing, and survival, from the provision of life-preserving ecosystem services to our ability to lessen climate change and viral pandemics. Therefore, the ultimate goal of sustainability planning has to be conserving and restoring nature. To do this, we need to think about which issues are most relevant to our operations and supply chain, and what actions are needed to address them. This should be the starting point for any sustainable tourism strategy, and it is exactly the starting point of Nature Positive Tourism.
How to UNDERSTAND Nature Positive Tourism
Nature conservation must be the priority for all businesses, no matter the sector. A Nature Positive approach ensures each business identifies and mitigates its specific negative impacts and, through its operations and activities, seeks nature-related opportunities to restore and enhance biodiversity. While there will be common themes between businesses, such as reducing plastic use or avoiding deforestation, there will be differences in the range of identified impacts and their severity. Using this perspective, we can ensure that mitigating actions are material to the business and have the most effective outcome.
We now understand that is not enough just to consider how we use natural resources; all business efforts must ensure an overall positive impact by conserving and regenerating nature.
How to INTEGRATE Nature Positive Tourism
Accompanying the WTTC Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report is the Toolbox of resources to aid your transition from a sustainability paradigm to a comprehensive Nature Positive approach. The Toolbox includes a series of frameworks that demonstrate how the theory covered in the main report, and the straightforward Phases and Steps of the Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap, can be practically applied. It also provides additional external resources, support services, and business case studies that provide information to cover every business type.
How to START your Nature Positive Tourism approach
The first phase for all businesses is to consider operational dependency and impact on nature, a key business requirement in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This is covered by the first Phase of the Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap: Assess & Define. You can find helpful frameworks in the Toolbox to guide your business to defining its biodiversity loss drivers, or alternatively receive this information with aligned actions through ANIMONDIAL’s in-depth evaluation tool, Animal Footprint. Phase two, Reduce & Restore, focuses on addressing the identified priority issues from Phase one. The Toolbox provides a range of tools and services to suit any business’ needs. This includes services to identify the biodiversity in your key destinations, which can provide vital baseline data for Phase three: Monitor & Report. The fourth and last Phase of your Nature Positive approach is to Collaborate & Communicate: consider partnership building in your destinations to overcome challenges that are out of reach for your business alone, and ensure you shout about the great Nature Positive work you are doing! (Then, return again to Phase one to assess the impact of your actions!)
Adopting a Nature Positive approach requires businesses to think beyond sustainable resource use
We understand that this is a significant adjustment, but there is an urgent need to make this shift. There is no greater threat to our prosperity, wellbeing and survival than nature loss, and we all have a part to play to protect biodiversity and restore nature to reach our global goal to ‘Live in Harmony with Nature”.
» Please support the Vision for Nature Positive Travel & Tourism
» Use the Toolbox and begin your Nature Positive Tourism journey
» Discover your dependency and impacts on nature with Animal Footprint
On September 21st 2022, ANIMONDIAL and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) released a new report, “Nature Positive Travel & Tourism”. Devised to help tourism businesses act on the very real and urgent need to better protect biodiversity and nature, the initiative provides an opportunity for the sector to transform its relationship with nature.
Travel & Tourism is in a unique position to influence the better protection of nature in every region around the world. Halting and restoring biodiversity loss is considered essential to limit climate change and for businesses to achieve Net Zero. Encouragingly, businesses are now recognising the synergies between climate regulation, biodiversity and carbon capture.
The Report, the first to frame a Nature Positive pathway for travel & tourism, explains the fundamental relationship between tourism and nature and the business case for the sector’s commitment to nature protection. It provides guidance on animal welfare safeguarding, illegal wildlife trade and pandemic prevention, sustainable consumption, and nature conservation in the context of tourism operations. It also provides insight into how these vital commitments contribute to climate change mitigation. Packed with practical steps, advice, and case studies, the Report will help businesses act for nature and contribute to climate mitigating action.
So, how can protecting biodiversity and nature reduce climate change?
Climate change is a driver of biodiversity loss. Alterations in atmospheric temperature and weather patterns, as a result of heightened carbon emissions, disrupt natural processes and displace species as they struggle to survive in a changing environment. The resulting biodiversity and habitat loss can impair the ability of plants and soils to absorb and store carbon. This means that more CO2 remains in the atmosphere – fuelling climate change. So, the more actions we take to minimise impact on biodiversity and proactively restore nature, the greater our ability to reduce greenhouse emissions, and prevent ecosystem collapse.
Travel & Tourism businesses should not only ensure nature protection is included in their decarbonisation strategy, actions also need to be taken to reduce dependency and impacts on biodiversity while seeking opportunities to better protect and restore nature.
How can Travel & Tourism help to protect biodiversity and nature?
The Report encourages the industry to adopt a Nature Positive Tourism approach by assessing operational impacts and dependencies, defining a policy and strategy to reduce them, and identifying opportunities to restore nature.
Managed well, tourism can support the conservation of wildlife, subsidise protected areas, and protect natural resources on which local communities rely. Tourism can help raise awareness, influence governments, and phase out practices that damage nature, while stimulating investment in green solutions to reduce impacts and restore biodiversity.
Nature Positive Travel & Tourism can also help people connect with nature, to experience it, but also to understand and respect it. We inspire travellers to understand the importance of nature and the need to take positive actions to protect it, we support local communities and bring value to the wildlife that they live alongside, and we drive local economies by providing jobs and opportunity, as well as influencing the legal protection of their natural heritage. Travel & Tourism is already playing an important role in the protection of nature, just think what could be achieved if the sector realised its full potential!
Accompanying the Report, is our shared vision that the sector has the potential to become a global Guardian of Nature. This recognises the sector’s ability to generate employment and provide opportunities for countries and their communities; to connect billions of people with nature; to operate sustainably to minimise impacts; and to protect the rights of local people. The Travel & Tourism Vision will be submitted, together with the Report, to the COP15 proceedings taking place in Montreal this December
Where does a Travel & Tourism business start?
- We first need to define how the business depends and impacts on animals, ecosystems and local communities. We consider not just the destinations that we visit, but also the actions and impacts at HQ level and through the supply chain. Do the products you sell, the materials you source, the buildings you run and the partners you work with also align with the same goals?
- Then we comprehensively assess all of these touchpoints against recognised, science-based targets. We appreciate this can be daunting, so. to support you ANIMONDIAL has developed the ANIMAL FOOTPRINT assessment and reporting tool, which guides a travel business through the journey.
- Once we have identified your touchpoints with nature, the next step is to take action to reduce further harm and set new achievable targets that each department can take to proactively restore nature.
» Find guidance and useful tools in the Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report and Toolbox
Presenting our Vision for Travel & Tourism at the global biodiversity conference, COP15!
ANIMONDIAL, WTTC and its members, and the wider travel and tourism sector, will be presenting the ‘Travel & Tourism Vision’ at COP15 this December, in the hope that the role of Travel & Tourism, as a ‘Guardian of Nature’, will be recognised. Will you join us?
» Learn more about ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Footprint nature-impact evaluation tool
» Read the Nature Positive Travel & Tourism Report
Can Travel & Tourism become nature’s saviour?
In the coming month, the long-anticipated report, “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” will be published. Produced by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in collaboration with ANIMONDIAL, it will help to explain nature’s ability to sustain tourism, absorb carbon emissions, prevent pandemics, and support life. It also underlines Travel & Tourism’s key challenges, which the sector must be overcome, and sets out, what I believe, is a huge potential to address biodiversity loss, and with it, climate change.
These are indeed worrying times – heatwaves are exhausting fresh water supplies, agricultural crops are failing, fish stocks dying, and wildfires destroying vast expanses of nature and people’s homes. There is no doubt that we need to reverse our exploitative and unsustainable ways and seek a future where humanity lives in harmony with nature.
Sounds great in theory, right? But with society and geo-political tensions currently taking us in the wrong direction, could this just be wishful thinking? Or is the solution yet to be fully realised?
I believe that the solution lies with responsible and sustainable tourism.
Take the last couple of years as an example: COVID-19 took hold across the world, people no longer travelled, and the tourism revenues that sustain local livelihoods and protect fragile nature, dried up. The devastating loss of income and an inability to access nutritious food, caused many local people (especially those that live alongside nature) to return to harvesting wildlife and natural resources for survival. With nature-based tourism operations suspended, wildlife poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and the degradation of nature by opportune industries caused widespread biodiversity loss – to an extent not previously seen.
These alarming outcomes demonstrate the relevance and power of tourism.
Just through its operation alone, tourism has an ability to sustain community resilience and wellbeing, while also providing for nature’s health. Consider then its full potential if efforts were directed to lessen operation impact, and support nature-enhancing actions. Imagine the extent of the benefits that could be achieved!
The WTTC ANIMONDIAL report, “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism”, highlights these mutual dependencies as well as the business case for a Nature Positive approach. It encourages Travel & Tourism to assess and better manage its environmental impacts, while also identifying nature-related opportunities to restore, or regenerate nature. Within the publication, this process has been called “Nature Positive Tourism”.
Recognising that pre-COVID tourism revenues contributed to over 10% of global GDP, and nature-based tourism generated upwards of US$600 billion in direct in-country expenditures a year, that supported over 21 million jobs, there appears huge potential for Travel & Tourism to drive Nature Positive change. Managed well, Travel & Tourism can reverse the environmental impacts of COVID, bring greater value to nature, and help to convince even the most disengaged of communities and governments to better protect their natural heritage.
Using the “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” report as a springboard, the WTTC and ANIMONDIAL hope to work with the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN, and others, to position Travel & Tourism as a key player in supporting global efforts to protect our planet’s natural wonders – in effect, to become ‘GUARDIANS OF NATURE’.
ANIMONDIAL’s Nature Positive Tourism services are available for any business keen to adopt a Nature Positive approach. These services range from an evaluation tool to assess operational impact on biodiversity, risk mitigation tools, such a nature-based product ‘healthcheck’, and a matchmaker service to find biodiversity and animal protection partners to fit business need.
Adopting a Nature Positive Tourism approach can be as easy as ABC …
- Assess your business operations and activities against the five-drivers of biodiversity loss.
- Build a Nature Positive approach that integrates biodiversity safeguards throughout the business and its operations.
- Complement your actions to mitigate nature-related impacts with measurable opportunities to better protect and restore nature.
- Develop destination biodiversity partnerships with NGOs, educational institutions, or government agencies to halt any exploitation or degradation of the natural world, and restore nature lost.
- Empower your employees, destination partners and suppliers, affected communities and customers through simple yet informative communication to encourage the better protection of animals and nature.
» Sign up to ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Footprint initiative to discover your environmental impact.
First steps to identifying actions that reduce impacts and restore nature.
The main message of Nature Positive Tourism is deceptively simple – measure the ways your business impacts on nature, measure the ways it protects and enhances nature, and make improvements until the positives outweigh the negatives. The principle is simple, but at ANIMONDIAL we understand that putting it into practice can be difficult.
Focus on Destinations
The prospect of making all those improvements can seem daunting when you are only just starting the journey. In fact, it may well be simpler than it appears once you understand what needs to be done. For many, the real challenge comes earlier in the process – how do we go about measuring our biodiversity impacts and benefits in the first place?
The key to answering this, lies in the classic environmental slogan: “Think globally, act locally”. Impacts on nature come in many forms, and these depend on the activities that happen and the locations they happen in. For Travel & Tourism, this means looking at the destinations you visit.
The difference we can make
For many travel businesses the focus may be on providing services to customers, however most of the environmental impacts will actually take place on the ground. This is where new developments can destroy vital natural habitat, or existing sites can secure and enhance it. It is where nature viewing trips can disturb and harass wildlife, or sensitively and sustainably fund its protection. Where food supplies can be flown in from intensive farms hundreds of miles away, or sourced from sustainable local agriculture. Destinations are ‘where the rubber meets the road’.
We are all about the Destinations
For many Travel & Tourism businesses, this will mean looking at products and supply chains. In our industry no company is an island – we have to work together to make our clients’ travel dreams come true. Everyone involved in that process has a stake in the traveller’s experience in the destination, and so everyone has a stake in the consequences of that experience. Travellers around the world are increasingly aware of their impacts and keen to ensure that their trips don’t ‘cost the earth’. We have to work together, as an industry, to meet their needs and demands. (The upcoming WTTC and ANIMONDIAL report on Nature Positive Tourism provides a clear and compelling focus for doing just this.)
Focusing on key destinations is crucial to understanding the environmental impacts and opportunities of a Travel & Tourism business. It is likely that operations will vary from one place to another, but it is certain that nature will. A broad understanding of environmental issues at each location is essential to identify the major threats, challenges, needs and opportunities for the wildlife and ecosystems that live there.
Your guide to thinking local
ANIMONDIAL can help Travel & Tourism businesses build that knowledge and insight. Whether you choose to create extra capacity in-house, through local partners or by engaging professional consultants, we can guide the process with the level of input you need. As well as supporting you with our years of experience and contacts, ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Footprint online tool offers an evaluation of your Nature Positive business performance. We also have a network of trusted partners that can provide specialist services. Whether you want to identify the biodiversity at a specific site with Nature Metrics eDNA analysis, calculate the economic value of a particular animal in your area with the Endangered Wildlife Biodiversity Valuator or conduct a rapid assessment on the ground with Organeco, we can help you identify and engage the expertise you need.
Where does the journey start?
As with so much of Travel & Tourism, local knowledge is the key. As we build our understanding of an area, our nature-related impacts and opportunities within it become clear. So, if you want to improve your Nature Positive credentials but are still wondering where to begin, just remember that a Nature Positive Tourism journey starts at the destination!
Don’t forget …
- Think about impacts and opportunities in the Destinations you serve
- Work closely with suppliers and partners as a Travel & Tourism team
- Build lasting partnerships with local nature-focused NGOs and other organisations to generate additional benefits for everyone
I joined many conservationists last week in cheering loudly when the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) finally announced that COP15 – the global biodiversity summit – will go ahead in Montreal (Canada) from 5 – 17 December 2022.
The previous location of Kunming (China) had experienced two years of setbacks and there were even doubts whether the vital conference would take place in 2022.
COP15 seeks to secure the commitment of 196 countries (Parties to the CBD) to ratify the proposed Global Biodiversity Framework and adopt its nature protection goals. Effective implementation will require the efforts of global governments, businesses and all sectors of society to reduce and reverse environmental damage if the ambitious 2030 and 2050 targets are to be met – to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature.
The Good news is that confirmation of the COP15 dates will help to focus minds during the current negotiations. The additional time between now and December can be used to mobilise the high-level commitment required to avert a cataclysmic loss of biodiversity. We are already experiencing the Sixth Mass Extinction, with the rate of extinction of plant and animal species at least 1,000 times faster than would be expected without human influence. Time is of the essence, but we do still have a chance to lessen the decline and prevent ecosystem collapse. Failure to do so will threaten our wellbeing, prosperity and survival. The urgency must surely spur action.
ANIMONDIAL is proactively focused on supporting the travel and tourism sector. Our Services provide guidance for businesses that wish to adopt a Nature Positive approach, including capacity-building training, a directory of nature-friendly project partners, and an evaluation tool, in development, to identify dependency and impact on nature.
As with all industries, travel and tourism is implicated in driving biodiversity loss. However, unlike many other sectors, it has a unique opportunity to become a significant influencer for transitional change. I would go so far as to say that nature-aware travel and tourism, that values nature through all its offerings across destinations, could be a vital part of the solution to this biological crisis. This was a conclusion in our upcoming publication, Towards a Nature Positive Travel & Tourism, produced by ANIMONDIAL and the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The Bad news is that the content of the Global Biodiversity Framework has yet to be agreed by all Parties. While the pre-COP15 negotiations in Geneva and Nairobi have refined the targets, specifically those related to conservation and sustainable use, progress in other areas is reportedly slow and lacks ambition. Issues over money for protecting biodiversity, proposals to protect 30% of land and sea, and concerns over the stealing and commercialising of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources (biopiracy) have hindered an advance. Civil society is reportedly “appalled” at the lack of progress following the emergency meeting in Nairobi last week, calling on countries to “step up [and] show the leadership that this moment requires, and act urgently to find compromise and solutions.” It is hoped that governments will take the opportunity between now and December to overcome their differences and commit to ambitious actions to halt biodiversity loss and ensure stronger protections for life on land and in the sea.
The Ugly matter of benefit-sharing and biopiracy continues to divide ‘Developed Countries’ and ‘Developing Countries’. In fact, it threatens to derail the global agreement. Countries, including Brazil, India and Gabon, are demanding payment for drug discoveries and other commercial products based on their biodiversity. Meanwhile, additional demands on richer countries to pay £80bn in biodiversity finance to help subsidise conservation efforts, are causing further divides – similar to those currently hampering negotiations for the next climate change conference (COP27) scheduled for this November in Egypt.
There is a desperate need to overcome this impasse for the Global Biodiversity Framework to be ratified and biodiversity protections applied. Focused discussions and creative solutions will be needed to find common ground and move the process forward.
Travel and tourism, and the huge revenues generated through nature-based tourism, could well provide a solution. Not only does tourism underpin national and local economies, but job creation and community empowerment bring heightened value to nature, encouraging positive attitudes towards its protection. When structured well, our industry can help to provide income and development opportunities to fairly compensate lower-income countries for protecting their biodiversity. Often the most biodiverse locations on Earth, the low-income countries also help sustain travel and tourism and its revenues.
The increased international attention on commercial impacts on nature will present travel and tourism with an opportunity to demonstrate its potential for positive contributions and to play a leading role in building a global Nature Positive future.
Yes, that is indeed an ode to Tina Turner, who was certainly no stranger to powerful collaboration, which takes me nicely into the subject of this blog… and what indeed SDG17 has got to do with it.
“The SDGs can only be realised with strong global partnerships and cooperation. A successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships – at the global, regional, national and local levels – built upon principles and values, and upon a shared vision and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre”. – United Nations, in reference to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’
This particular SDG is often the most overlooked, but can be considered one of the most important. Partnerships for the Goals refers to the recommendation for cross-sector and cross-country collaboration to achieve all the global goals, from 1 -16, by the year 2030. Importantly, it recognises that these cannot be achieved in isolation. It is a call for countries to align policies, and adopt a shared vision for a collaborative way forward.
So, what does this mean for animal and nature protection in Travel & Tourism?
Our industry is arguably the best placed to prioritise cross-country collaboration to better protect and restore nature. But we can also learn from other sectors, particularly those that also have a recognised impact on nature. Reporting on biodiversity protection for Net Zero is becoming more commonplace in the corporate world, across a variety of industries. According to the IUCN, the business sectors with a significant impact on nature include large ‘footprint’ industries such as mining, oil and gas; biodiversity-dependent industries including fishing, agriculture and forestry; and, financial services and “green” enterprises such as organic farming, renewable energy and tourism.
But, how do they tackle achieving their goals and demonstrating their actions? Often through collaboration. This shared mission is an opportunity to unite, and demonstrate individual and collective integrity and leadership. For businesses with limited resources, it is also an opportunity to fill gaps in knowledge or services by forming complementary and empowering partnerships. For larger companies it could be an opportunity to lead the way and guide others along the path. Collaborations can also support the delivery and achievement of identified objectives and KPIs and provide reliable evidence in annual reports.
TOP TIPS for Nature Positive Collaboration in Travel & Tourism
Whilst operations are grounded, this is a rare opportunity to review them – to return more effective and make the protection of animals and nature an integral component of our tourism agenda. Here are some ideas:
- Identify partners with a shared vision and shared goals to tackle the same challenges.
Identify partners of best fit – consider what parts of the jigsaw you are missing, and who can provide them.
- Stakeholder mapping can be beneficial to help Identify others with shared purpose and whose objectives align.
- Set partnerships as a key tactic to achieve your sustainability strategy, and include their identification and formation within your goal-setting, signed off at CEO level.
- Understand the value of other stakeholders as part of your supply chain to achieve the goals- they are not passive contributors, but pro-active ones, that can do much of the heavy lifting that you can’t, and facilitate the actions you may not be equipped to.
- Ensure that partners are aligned with your goals and demonstrate integrity in the shared commitment. Add a policy to that effect within your partnership contracts.
- See NGOs as instrumental to supporting the delivery of business actions on the ground, and adding value and meaning to your brand and its products. The knowledge and expertise of in-destination communities (and NGOs) should not be underestimated. They can deliver monitoring and reporting on community-based conservation actions, Partnerships should be strategic, and aligned to commitment goals, providing inspiring case studies to educate and inspire.
Who could you partner with?
Partners could include travel business peers, travel trade associations, local, national or international NGOs, government bodies, or destination authorities. They can also include suppliers from alternative industries that have touch-points with your business and its sustainability commitment. These could include food and beverage providers, providers of furnishings and transport, or example.
Where to start?
This June, we will be celebrating the release of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ANIMONDIAL Nature Positive paper – a perfect example of a collaboration of shared purpose to support the sector in the delivery of animal and nature protection across global destinations. The paper includes numerous case studies and examples of how other industries, and other peers in Travel & Tourism, are working together to tackle the same challenges and achieve our collective goals. It is our hope that the paper equips our sector with the essential information needed to both integrate biodiversity protection actions within the sustainability agenda, and support collaborative efforts.
ANIMONDIAL, with WTTC have gathered the views of all pieces of the jigsaw to ensure the content is as relevant and useful as possible. Over 200 stakeholders including Travel & Tourism businesses, biodiversity experts, scientists, NGOs, Travel Trade Associations and policy-makers have been consulted. The paper acts as a megaphone for an important message to inspire collective action for the protection and restoration of nature.
Without achieving the fundamental Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Life on Land’, ‘Life under Water’, ‘Clean Water’ and ‘Climate Action’, and applying ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, we simply have no chance of achieving the remaining 12 goals. As of course without a healthy planet, and a collaborative effort to better protect it, none of the others, and indeed any of us, will stand a chance.
However, even with all the bad news, the good still remains. It is not too late to restore nature and reduce climate change. Through working together, RIGHT NOW, we still have a fighting chance!
» Register for our e-news today to be one of the first to access the Nature Positive paper next month!
Businesses will soon be required to adopt procedures that assess the environmental consequences of their decisions, specifically with an aim to minimise impact and act to better protect nature.
Ultimately this recognises that Nature is everyone’s business – and that businesses, as well as the rest of society, must play their part to reverse nature loss. While that sounds the right thing to do, navigating the complexities of the topic(s), to select and apply positively impactful outputs, is far from simple. In fact, it can give rise to many conflicts or dilemmas, such as – what should I try to protect, what are the priority issues, and how to decide actions towards set goal(s) when these may also affect progress towards others?
Protecting wildlife and nature is increasingly defined by our individual values. For instance, are we protecting species and ecosystems, of which wild animals form a key part, for our own sustainable use, or should wild places be left alone with little human interference? Equally, should we only consider wild species as numbers, such as the population of tigers, or should we give greater value to the wellbeing of each individual animal?
I certainly have my own views and values, but when it comes to me providing impartial guidance to Travel & Tourism professionals who wish to support wildlife conservation, I aim to provide information and an overview of opinions to allow informed decisions. Ultimately, the decision what or whom to support resigns with you and your business, but there are some fundamental considerations that I would always encourage before a decision is made.
To navigating this rocky path, I would suggest considering the following ethical perspectives to help you make your informed decision on business actions to protect animals and nature:
Sustainable viewpoint – animals and nature are essentially a resource for human use, the ethical constraint of protective measures is to make sure that wildlife can be used sustainably. For instance, CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) manages legal wildlife trade, only restricting trade if a species is threatened with extinction.
Utilitarian viewpoint – aiming for the best outcome overall by considering both the negative and positive implications. Since animals can suffer if their circumstances negatively impact on their welfare needs, animal welfare should always be considered, even if the animals are in the wild. This perspective can have significant implications for wildlife management, particularly if the animals are causing harm to the people or the natural environment. Opting for a humane approach in all scenarios is our moral obligation.
Animal rights viewpoint – recognises that humans and other animals share physical, biological, and mental similarities, and we should not kill, confine, or otherwise interfere in their lives. This perspective considers the rights of humans and animals in equal measure.
Respect for nature viewpoint – protecting the ‘integrity’ of species, or overall biodiversity, where the protection of species in the ecosystem, to maintain functioning ecosystems, is prioritised. While invasive species that threaten either native species, or ecosystem health, should be removed or killed.
Local viewpoint – consideration for species that are particularly important for the sustainable development of the local community. Whereby animal and plant species, wild or modified, provide vital services or materials, or have a spiritual or cultural importance.
You have probably aligned yourself, or your business, with one of the above perspectives – and that’s not a bad thing. Although from my experience, while each of these ‘viewpoints’ present valuable insights, I would propose a combination of these perspectives when considering your wildlife and nature protection priorities. That way you are applying the necessary due diligence, considering the likely conflicts and dilemmas, before deciding the right choice for you, or your business.
In my opinion, it should not be all about sustainable use, for example. Sustainability does not necessarily mean an activity is responsible and does not cause unnecessary harm. While we do need to ensure our use of wildlife does cause its extinction, we must surely recognise that animals can suffer, and actions must be taken to protect an individual’s welfare whatever the overall goal.
Whatever you decide, I imagine you will agree, that whichever path and perspectives you adopt, it should aim to protect people, animals, and planet.
» Find out more about how businesses can support wildlife and nature conservation
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Returning from Geneva earlier this month, I was inspired by the sense of urgency demonstrated by national governments, the private sector and civil society, in their acknowledgement that biodiversity protection matters.
I attended the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), which was tasked with considering the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This is Nature’s equivalent of the Paris Climate Agreement, a framework of 21 action-oriented targets aimed at better protecting animals and nature over the decade to 2030.
There was a real impression from the meeting of 196 national governments and global stakeholders – the first in-person meeting for years – that nature is everyone’s business.
That the required transformational change in society’s relationship with animals and nature will need a cross-disciplinary and global collaboration – particularly if humanity needs to “Live in Harmony with Nature” by 2050 (CBD). Governments, business, and civil society must all work together to save nature to save ourselves.
ANIMONDIAL attended with Business for Nature, a global coalition of forward-thinking businesses and conservation organisations, to amplify a powerful leading business voice calling for governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss. It was encouraging to learn from various businesses, particularly those that rely on natural resources, and those whose operations potentially impact on nature, that actions are being applied to avoid or minimise negative impact. Furthermore, the realisation that business facilitation tools and procedures already exist and are helping business to mainstream biodiversity values and measure and mitigate impacts.
Sadly, ANIMONDIAL was the only business attending the CBD meeting representing the Travel & Tourism sector. Travel & Tourism is not only highly dependent on nature, but it is instrumental to the financing of protected areas across the globe, influencing policy change, and supporting sustainable development and community empowerment. In fact, this one sector has a significant opportunity to demonstrate its potential for positive contributions and play a leading role in building a global Nature Positive future.
This is the key messaging incorporated into the Travel & Tourism whitepaper on biodiversity and nature protection – soon to be published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with ANIMONDIAL. This report will bridge knowledge gaps, outline common challenges, and set out a Nature Positive Tourism approach that combines climate change mitigation principles with nature protection and sustainable use, to achieve a nature-friendly, low-carbon future.
Whilst the ongoing CBD negotiations are reportedly, disappointingly slow and lack the required ambition (Wildlife Conservation Society), it is important to recognise the role of the private sector. When managed well, its potential to influence meaningful change.
My hope is that when we again congregate at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, China, later this year, the private sector, and in particular Travel & Tourism, will have an influencing role. Whilst governments will ultimately need to agree to adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework, it will be the private sector and the wider society that will be required to fulfil its goals. After all, Nature is everyone’s business.
» Keen to learn how to Protect Animals and Nature in tourism?
» Want to discover your business’ Animal Footprint?
» Unsure about the meaning of biodiversity, nature or Nature Positive?
» Find out about the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
A key objective for ANIMONDIAL, as my colleagues and I draft the WTTC whitepaper on Nature Positive in Travel & Tourism, is to keep it simple. Not because the topic is simple – grappling with biological terms like ‘biodiversity’, ‘ecosystems’, ‘biosphere’, or even ‘Blue Carbon’ can be challenging – but because it is vital that these fundamentals are understood.
This understanding underpins the recognition that the natural world is not only integral to the growth and prosperity of Travel & Tourism, but also vital to the happiness, health, and survival of all humanity.
Consider the difference between biodiversity, ecosystems, and nature, for instance. These can easily be confused, and while their differences may not be important for some, an explanation can help convey why each has a different role to play. I compare nature to a machine: it needs various parts to operate, and energy to drive it. The parts include a wide range of ‘living’ things – this is what we term biodiversity – together with ‘non-living’ components – such as air, water, and soil – and all the interactions between them. Ecosystems are systems within the machine, separate (but connected) groups of living and non-living things, working together to perform many functions. They produce energy and circulate nutrients, clean and enrich the air that we breathe, and provide fresh drinking water, food, materials and even many important medicines – performing what are called ecosystem services. The analogy, while simple, explains the importance of each component and why their loss must be avoided, quite literally, at our peril.
The focus of ANIMONDIAL’s work is to support the Travel & Tourism sector to adopt a Nature Positive approach. As it sounds, this encourages and inspires actions that have a positive impact on nature, while taking measures to minimise or avoid activities that damage nature. Travel & Tourism can drive biodiversity loss and degrade nature, but managed well – by educating customers, employees, and in-destination partners, adopting safeguards, and supporting Nature-Based Solutions – Travel & Tourism can be a force for good, influencing local communities and government to better protect their natural heritage.
These actions are considered as integral to achieving Net Zero, another term that is increasingly promoted. This was the focus of ANIMONDIAL’s January blog. Net Zero is achieved when CO2 emissions are fully balanced by actions that remove and store carbon, so the net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is zero. Many natural processes can be harnessed to remove and store carbon, and global experts recognise that biodiversity loss and climate change mutually reinforce each other and, being driven by the same human activities, can only be tackled together. Failure to do so will have negative consequences on human wellbeing and our quality of life.
While it is vital that all actions and activities that drive biodiversity loss and release CO2 are minimised wherever possible, actions that protect biodiversity and restore nature are equally important. Not only do such measures help maintain the planet’s functioning ecosystems (and the services they provide) but boosting biodiversity can help ensure that greater amounts of atmospheric carbon is absorbed and stored. Actions which use nature protection and enhancement to remove and store carbon are often referred to as Nature-based Solutions.
Maintaining nature’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis in plants and store it in living tissues or dead ‘organic matter’ – either on land (Green Carbon) or in seas and oceans (Blue Carbon) – is key to Nature-based Solutions.
One of our main jobs at ANIMONIDAL is to ensure that the complex world of animal and nature protection is made simple for our clients. By using straightforward and clearly explained terminology we can help to ensure a greater understanding of the issues, the need to act, and the practical options available to adopt a Nature Positive approach.
A sustainable society requires both a stable climate and healthy ecosystems.
ANIMONDIAL has long championed a Nature Positive approach for Travel & Tourism, and in 2022 we celebrate our Year for Biodiversity, recognising the importance of biodiversity and its role in the race to Net Zero. Working with our partners, we aim to guide and support Travel & Tourism towards a Nature Positive future through:
- A whitepaper, in collaboration with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), that positions Travel & Tourism as a force for good in bringing greater value to nature and encouraging its better protection. It will explain the importance of nature, highlight the impacts of mismanagement, provide examples of best practice and champion the opportunities available to Travel & Tourism to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature.
- eTraining, in collaboration with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). This comprehensive guide for travel providers, tour guides and DMOs on the importance of animal and nature protection in tourism will include expert guidance and interviews, accessible narrative and supporting materials.
- Evaluation of business performance to identify dependencies and impacts on biodiversity and the natural environment. Our ANIMAL FOOTPRINT tool is aligned to industry guidance and biodiversity targets to ensure your business is on course for Net Zero and Nature Positive.
- A Nature Positive toolbox, allowing us to provide Travel & Tourism partners with bespoke solutions to boost biodiversity, restore nature, and reduce carbon emissions both through our services and by engaging experienced specialist organisations.
» Contact ANIMONDIAL to find out more and how you can get involved
» Find out about ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Protection Network