Natour Impact Assessment – identify YOUR impact on BIODIVERSITY
On 22 May each year the world celebrates the importance of ‘Biological diversity’, and in 2023, the ask is to “Build Back Biodiversity”.
This is, of course, exactly what our global society has signed up to following the ratification of the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, with its 23-target plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
While most people recognise the urgency to halt biodiversity loss, until now there has been no comprehensive solution to understand and minimise YOUR IMPACT. For the travel and tourism industry, ANIMONDIAL’s new online tool is about to change that…
Why is biodiversity important?
‘Biodiversity’ refers to the range of all living things (including humans). Studies have revealed that it is in a downward spiral as Earth is experiencing its Sixth Mass Extinction – the fifth one having wiped out the dinosaurs over 60 million years ago. Five human-induced drivers have been identified as the main causes behind this: habitat conversion, over-harvesting, climate change, pollution, and introduction of non-native species. These all lead to biodiversity loss, which undermines the stability of the climate, the availability of fresh air, water and food, and protections against extreme weather patterns and viral emergence. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse now dominate global risk forecasting (Global Risks Report 2023).
Reducing nature-related risk
The only way to halt and reverse biodiversity loss is to first avoid or minimise any negative impacts. Solutions until now have focused on simple, one-approach-fits-all action, such as ending single-use plastics. However, this is only a small part of the solution, which must mitigate ALL negative impacts. While there are some generic actions that can be applied, the only comprehensive way to address this challenge is to take a bespoke approach – by assessing YOUR IMPACT on biodiversity.
This understanding is what led us to create NATOUR IMPACT – an online tool specifically for travel & tourism businesses to identify their impacts on biodiversity and nature. Travel & tourism very much relies on nature, not least for providing over 80% of its goods and services, but also in supplying or underlying much of the motivation for people to travel. Like most businesses, travel & tourism contributes to ALL drivers of biodiversity loss, but to varying degrees depending on the business. Even within tourism, different types of business can impact nature in different ways. So, a bespoke assessment of IMPACT makes good business sense.
What to expect
Natour Impact provides a thorough assessment of business performance across the interconnected issues of biodiversity protection, animal welfare, climate change, pollution, sustainability and social impact. It doesn’t work from estimated or explicit values – like emissions calculations do – but instead assesses the policies, procedures and actions of the individual business against relevant international standards, science-based targets and expert recommendations. It is also aligned with industry targets and guidelines such those of the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals and ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines. The evaluation delivers a report that provides each business with a detailed IMPACT assessment, highlighting areas of concern and priority actions to address them, as well as recommendations towards a full Nature Positive Tourism approach.
Fit for purpose
Registering your interest in a Natour Impact assessment is easy. There is a ‘no obligation’ opportunity to talk it through with members of our team, and you can trial our Natour Impact ‘taster’ that provides a snapshot of what to expect. Alternatively you can just contact us to receive more details on the tool itself and the assessment process. It is really that simple. If you are already sold, and keen to start your business IMPACT assessment, why not book your introductory call now?
There really is no better way to regularly monitor and assess your business’ impacts on biodiversity!
Book your Natour Impact introductory call
Trial our Natour Impact ‘taster’
Identify the Global Biodiversity Framework business obligations (particularly Targets 14, 15 & 16)
Earth Day: Understanding the nature around you
April 22nd is Earth Day. A day to celebrate the amazing place where we live. Home to 7.4 billion people and an estimated 8 million species. It is also a time to reflect on our relationship with Mother Earth, our reliance upon it, and our responsibility to better protect it.
This is, after all, where many of the negative impacts take place, where endangered species and fragile habitats are most threatened, and where the natural resources on which we all rely are in decline. Society really needs to look beyond its four walls and start to protect their very foundations – grounded in the natural world – sooner rather than later.
I have written a great deal about the importance of NATURE – the very fabric on which all life on Earth is based. The interaction between non-living natural materials, such as soil, water and stone, and all living things, from bacteria to blue whales. You will know that nature is essential to our prosperity and wellbeing, and its demise threatens our existence. In my previous blog, I explained the UN’s new biodiversity protection mandate and the particular obligation on global business to integrate biodiversity safeguards and assess their nature impact. Legal requirements that, as yet, few businesses are fully aware of, let alone preparing to comply with.
Consider your impacts and dependencies on nature
Progressive business is beginning to consider nature and, while some companies may just fund tree planting or donate to a conservation NGO, the smart organisation is thinking about its risks and impacts on nature. This includes both direct impacts, like land clearance for construction or agriculture, and indirect impacts through the value chain, from the sourcing and processing of raw materials to the use and disposal of finished products. All this needs to be properly understood before business risk, dependencies and impacts can be identified.
ANIMONDIAL can guide your business
This is where “Nature Positive Business” (the blog) and ANIMONDIAL’s wider work can help. Our expertise encompasses animal protection, nature conservation, sustainable development and social impact. We will ensure your business understands its legal obligations, your business’ relationship with nature, and its impacts, dependencies and risk-factors. Anticipating the task ahead, ANIMONDIAL and our partners have developed the services and tools that T&T businesses need. This includes an evaluation tool for individual companies to assess their impact on nature, a report and Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap with the World Travel & Tourism Council to guide strategy, and a toolkit of additional services to support implementation. Our goal: to support clients through the complexity of biodiversity protection so they can go beyond sustainability to deliver an overall Nature Positive outcome.
Understanding the nature around you is key
As part of our toolkit, ANIMONDIAL has partnered with NatureMetrics, to bring world leading, measurable nature intelligence to the travel & tourism industry. They use cutting-edge technology to generate biodiversity data at scale from environmental DNA (eDNA) – the traces of DNA that all animals leave behind on the ground, in water and even in the air. This provides valuable insight into the wildlife and biodiversity in a given location and enables ongoing monitoring at a fraction of the cost of traditional techniques. The result is easy access to crucial data that underpins good decisions for business and nature. Our partnership not only introduces the benefits of eDNA monitoring to the Travel & Tourism industry, it also provides valuable guidance to help integrate its use into operational programmes that minimise harm and maximise benefits for nature.
Turning data into nature
Using the eDNA biodiversity data collected, businesses can see the current state of biodiversity in their destinations, even around their offices, enabling them to make practical plans to protect and enhance it through precise, measurable steps. Repeated surveys provide direct feedback on the effectiveness of these efforts, tracking performance and demonstrating concrete progress.
Tourism as a force for good
While the obligation to monitor, assess and mitigate impacts falls on all businesses irrespective of their sector, tourism businesses have an added advantage: the means to collected biodiversity data from multiple sites across the globe. This gives us the capability to help society better understand the Earth’s biodiversity health and the ongoing damage and recovery of nature, as well as the ability to monitor the outcomes of Nature Positive actions as they are applied. The eDNA data collected through Nature Metrics is automatically shared with eBioAtlas – a global, open-access database supporting biodiversity protection and restoration activities around the world, to which Travel & Tourism could become a key contributor.
“Every organisation needs to know where it stands, what impacts it currently has and how each of its future decisions can alter that impact in its journey to becoming nature positive.”
— Pippa Howard, Chief Nature Strategist, NatureMetrics
Joint services of NatureMetrics and ANIMONDIAL will help businesses monitor, assess and mitigate operational impact on nature and its biodiversity. All in one package!
Nature Positive Tourism
Working with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and partners, ANIMONDIAL will seek to integrate eDNA measurement and monitoring services into the Nature Positive Tourism approach. We want to provide tourism businesses with the tools to understand the nature around them (around their offices, in the destinations they visit and other sites) and the outcomes of their Nature Positive Tourism actions. Techniques like eDNA analysis are only one element of this, but as part of our broad and ever-expanding toolkit they can play a key role in our industry’s Nature Positive journey.
Learn more about Nature Positive Tourism and sign up as a Guardian of Nature
Contact ANIMONDIAL for a Discovery Call to find out how we can help your business
Identify your impact on nature
Learn more about NatureMetrics and biodiversity data collection
Act for Nature – but don’t forget the NATURE!
Adopting a Nature Positive approach goes beyond sustainable use. While sustainability makes clear business sense, it is the impact on the ground, amongst nature, that matters most.
This is, after all, where many of the negative impacts take place, where endangered species and fragile habitats are most threatened, and where the natural resources on which we all rely are in decline. Society really needs to look beyond its four walls and start to protect their very foundations – grounded in the natural world – sooner rather than later.
Everything, everywhere, all at once
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently called for “action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once”. Hardly surprising considering the alarming state of nature: global biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history (UN CBD), it is now considered the 4th most severe threat we face this decade (WEF, 2023), and levels of global heating, which is driving biodiversity loss, are close to “irreversible” levels (IPCC AR6, 2023).
A slow start
Despite this urgent need for action, only a small share of companies globally seems to have set targets or be applying actions to protect biodiversity or address habitat loss. A similar trend is observed in a recent survey of tourism businesses – of the few that said Nature Positive actions had been adopted, fewer still confirm action on the ground – where most of the damage is being done.
Bringing in business
The UN biodiversity agreement, passed in December 2022, now requires all businesses globally to protect and restore nature: specifically “to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity, increase positive impacts, [and] reduce biodiversity-related risks to business…”. In doing this, an understanding of “their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity” will be essential.
What nature does for us
All businesses depend on natural systems either directly or through their supply chains. Research by the World Economic Forum showed that $44 trillion of economic value generation – more than half the world’s total GDP – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. For Travel & Tourism, 80% of its goods and services depend on nature. … For us, it ensures our survival.
Who needs to think about nature…
Nature is essential for those businesses committed to reducing carbon emissions, global warming and achieving Net Zero goals. It is a vital consideration for businesses developing sustainable and resilient approaches towards activities they directly operate and indirectly influence. Nature Positive actions can also be valuable commercial investments and empowerment of local communities.
… And who is thinking about it
The finding by S&P Global that only about one-third of Europe’s biggest companies have set biodiversity targets, and even fewer among the largest companies in Asia-Pacific and the US, is certainly disheartening. It demonstrates the need for compelling incentives to enact or better enforce policies and actions to boost biodiversity.
Urgent action is needed to ensure businesses understand their obligations and have the tools to better protect and restore nature.
The Nature Positive Travel & Tourism Partnership
The recently launched tourism partnership between UN World Tourism Organisation, World Travel & Tourism Council and Sustainable Hospitality Alliance for a Nature Positive Tourism approach, highlights this industry’s commitment to nature protection and also its ability to contribute to positive change in global destinations influencing local and national policymaking and investment.
What we can do to help
My colleagues and I, at ANIMONDIAL, have had the pleasure of working with Travel & Tourism to guide the sector to not just mitigate biodiversity loss but to identify nature-related opportunities to boost biodiversity in destinations through private-public partnerships.
There is still a way to go, but a report has been produced, accompanied by a Toolbox of resources, while the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism invites businesses, large and small, to commit to a Nature Positive future – where we can travel in Harmony with Nature.
My hope is that other industries or business sectors will follow this lead and take a proactive role to better protect nature and its biodiversity across the world for the generations to come.
Keen to better protect biodiversity in nature?
Find out your business’ risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity with ANIMONDIAL’s Nature Positive evaluation tool
Measure the biodiversity in any location through eDNA analysis by Nature Metrics to benchmark your Nature Positive actions
Identify Biodiversity Partnerships in global destinations, working with businesses, NGOs and communities to better protect biodiversity and restore nature
Find out how your business sector faired in the S&P Global review of biodiversity-committed business
We can do it again!
The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) has set out, at the highest level, how the private sector needs to help protect and restore nature worldwide – but how do we act on it?
ANIMONDIAL was at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 in Montréal in December, where the GBF was agreed and announced. We were working with the biggest players in the international travel industry to help focus and co-ordinate the industry’s response to the ground-breaking call to action. And we were there when the World Travel & Tourism Council, the UN World Tourism Organisation and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance announced their collaboration to advance Nature Positive Travel & Tourism and help the industry become a Guardian Of Nature.
What it means for business
So how is all this high-level policy action going to impact individual businesses? The GBF identifies three core areas: company reporting, value chains and mainstreaming. Expectations are clearly going to rise, particularly in ESG investment criteria and among customers and consumer groups, and regulations may not be far behind.
The T&T industry response
It won’t take long for this to become internalised within the industry itself, with agents, clients and suppliers looking to see how their partners are shaping up. Fortunately, the industry’s leading bodies are on board, meaning that support, resources and representation will be available for the transition.
We’ve done it before
Darrell Wade, Co-Founder and Chair of Intrepid Travel, gives a simple and impactful explanation of the challenge in an inspiring video clip from WTTC. Acknowledging that we need to look deeper at what nature protection means for our industry, he enthusiastically observes: “… we can do it – we’ve done it before, we’re doing it with climate change …”.
Learning lessons from carbon
This comparison has been made before, with the GBF often called the ‘Paris Agreement for Nature’. In fact, the international conventions on these two issues both originated in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Back then they were acknowledged as parts of the same problem, so in many ways this is just a process of biodiversity catching up with climate change on the international agenda.
We can do it again
In 2015 the Paris Agreement seemed like an impossible challenge to many businesses. Now carbon accounting is a common part of business practice – mandatory for many companies and provided voluntarily by many more. So, we know that the challenge with biodiversity loss is one we can rise to.
Joining the mainstream
Fundamental to achieving this is ‘mainstreaming’ – bringing nature and biodiversity issues into decision-making in all business functions at all levels. This may seem like a huge task but, as we know, it gets easier and easier as you go along. The trick is knowing where to start.
We have the tools
One great place to start is the Toolbox Of Nature Positive Tourism Resources, published as an Annex to the WTTC Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report. Following the four-phase Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap (as seen on the ANIMONDIAL homepage) this provides a wealth of links, tips, sector-specific advice and deep-dives into the key issues. It also incorporates a handy glossary and a selection of case studies from our sector and further afield. With regular reviews and updates, the Toolbox is there for the whole industry to help make mainstreaming easy.
The support you need
- Trying to assess your impacts and dependencies on nature but not sure where to start? The Toolkit has a framework to fill out, complete with SDG links (p4-5)
- Want to understand more about the challenges and issues facing your sub-sector? The Toolkit has a table of sector priorities for all five drivers of biodiversity loss (p6-7)
- Need to track the integration of the Nature Positive approach throughout your business? The Toolkit has a checklist with pointers to the relevant sections of the full report (p14-18)
- Wondering what sectors like Consumer Goods are doing to incorporate nature protection into their supply chains? The Toolkit has insightful case studies with links to further information (p27-28)
Getting Up To Speed…
Understand the principles of Nature Positive Tourism and how to apply it to your business by reading the WTTC report
Find detailed explanations and important resources in the Nature Positive Tourism Toolbox
Join the community by signing up to the Vision for Nature Positive Travel & Tourism
Get in touch to find out more about ANIMONDIAL services that can support your Nature Positive journey
The Future Of Biodiversity Compliance
For many years, scientists have been telling us that the loss of nature around the world amounts to a global biodiversity crisis.
The media and the public have taken the message on board, but the political response has been much slower. Finally, at the end of last year, we saw the breakthrough we have been waiting for – and it means that we will all have to raise our game.
The Paris Agreement for Nature
On 19th December 2023, the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted by the CoP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The framework is sometimes called the ‘Paris Agreement for nature’, as it heralds a seismic shift in how the world will tackle the biodiversity crisis. That’s great news for the planet, but what does it mean for businesses?
What the GBF?!?
The framework is a call to action for all national governments, detailing what they need to do in order to help achieve the four Global Goals for 2050. This plan takes the form of 23 Global Targets, setting out actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss that need to be initiated immediately and completed by 2030. Eight of these involve directly reducing threats to biodiversity, while the other 15 are concerned with sustainable use and benefit sharing. Three of them in particular have far-reaching implications for the private sector.
Target 14 addresses ‘mainstreaming’ – the full integration of all the values of biodiversity into policies, strategies, regulations and even national accounting. The aim is to align all private and public sector activities with the Goals, especially sectors with ‘significant impacts on biodiversity’ like Travel & Tourism. This means that companies will need co-ordinated biodiversity strategies that look at all their activities across all departments and operations.
Target 15 centres around monitoring, assessing and reporting impacts on biodiversity, not only in operations but also in supply and value chains. It urges governments to ‘encourage and enable’ businesses to do this – especially large and transnational companies – with ‘legal, administrative or policy measures’. It also stresses the importance of progressively reducing negative impacts and increasing positive impacts on biodiversity. This confirms what we expected: that, as with carbon emissions, businesses will increasingly need to provide detailed biodiversity monitoring and reporting together with demonstrable efforts to reduce damage and restore nature.
Target 16 is about tackling unsustainable consumption at all levels, especially reducing food waste, overall waste generation and the ‘global footprint of consumption’. The approach is to support individuals to make sustainable choices, but policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks are specifically mentioned as mechanisms for doing this. This means that businesses will need to have a full understanding of environmental impacts up and down their value chain to be sure they comply with new regulations.
A Framework for Change
The GBF represents a huge commitment at the highest possible level to fundamentally change how biodiversity is valued by governments, businesses and people. The Targets give concrete steps for achieving this, and as they are implemented country-by-country they will start to affect us all. Like the Paris Agreement, they mark the global transition from talk to action. Fortunately, ANIMONDIAL is here to help you make that transition.
The Nature Positive Equation
By talking about reducing negative impacts and increasing positive ones, the GBF echoes the Nature Positive Tourism approach promoted by ANIMONDIAL and presented by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in their Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report. The Roadmap found in the report and on our homepage shows how any business in the sector can become a beacon of Nature Positive Tourism. By following these simple steps, with support from resources in the online Toolbox and ANIMONDIAL’s consultancy services, travel companies can get ahead of the game in meeting the obligations set out in the GBF.
Leading the Way
Travel & Tourism can present a huge threat to biodiversity, but it also has huge potential to be a Force for Good. At CoP15 an unprecedented coalition of the WTTC, the UN World Travel Organisation and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance united behind the Vision for Nature Positive Travel & Tourism, calling on the industry to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. This announcement set the stage for a Nature Positive Travel & Tourism Partnership, an initiative which ANIMONDIAL plans to be at the heart of, and which we hope to have more news on very soon…
What you can do to become GBF-ready:
Use the Animal Footprint impact assessment tool to start the process of monitoring and reporting on your biodiversity impacts
Become a Guardian of Nature by signing up to the Vision for Nature Positive Travel & Tourism
Find out how we can help you develop a biodiversity protection policy, strategy, monitoring system or reporting framework by booking a free Discovery Call
COP15: A Pact for Nature’s Recovery
Finally, after years of negotiations and a tumultuous couple of weeks at CBD COP15, there is good news from Montreal – a new ‘Pact for Nature’ – and an opportunity for Travel & Tourism to establish itself as a ’Force of Good’.
The historic plan for nature was finalised in the early hours of this morning (19th December) to cheers from delegates and impassioned speeches by world leaders. It was presented as the “last chance” to put nature on a path to recovery. Having experienced the last week myself, with up-to-the-wire negotiations, the news of a positive outcome is a huge relief.
“Nature is our ship. We must ensure it stays afloat,” said EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius.
The Global Biodiversity Framework, the agreed plan for nature, sets out ambitious yet achievable plans to increase protected areas to 30% of the planet, safeguarding vital ecosystems from rainforests to wetlands, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. It includes four goals and 23 targets ranging from the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction of pollution to the restoration of destroyed habitats.
“It is truly a moment that will mark history as Paris did for climate,” hailed Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.
However, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are still experiencing the sharpest decline in biodiversity and habitat loss in human history. It is acknowledged that this new pact for nature cannot be delivered unless the whole of society is involved. In the last week of negotiations, businesses, in particular Travel & Tourism, were recognised as a key driver of positive change, with the ability to deliver short-term goals where government efforts often fail.
Last week I had the pleasure of working on behalf of the World Travel & Tourism Council, the voice of our industry’s private sector, and together with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), to promote ’Nature Positive Tourism’. In a momentous announcement at COP15, these Travel & Tourism heavyweights acknowledged the importance of nature and the sector’s ability, as a global industry that operates at all levels of society, to become a ’Guardian of Nature’. They were united in their commitment to not only assist in the delivery of the Global Biodiversity Framework but, through the formation of a Nature Positive Tourism Alliance, to drive forward capacity-building action for businesses, the value chain, and global destinations.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Travel and nature are intrinsically linked. Wildlife tourism creates over $340BN USD each year and supports more than 21 million jobs around the world. Today’s collaboration between WTTC, UNWTO and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, spearheading the sector’s vision to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, shows our commitment to preserve the planet for future generations.”
Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director at UNWTO and Special Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said: “As part of the broad Alliance of stakeholders for ‘Nature Positive Travel & Tourism’, UNWTO shows its commitment to the Global Biodiversity Framework of COP15 – making tourism the Guardian of Nature. New governance and business models, enhanced capacity to monitor positive change and scaling up green jobs are all part of the solution as we move ahead together.”
Glenn Mandziuk, CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) said: “As an industry that relies on our natural world for everything from our buildings to attracting guests to outstanding locations across the globe, we recognise the immense importance of protecting our beautiful planet. Collaboration across sectors and across borders is essential to halt and reverse biodiversity loss… and make Nature Positive Tourism a reality.”
Dreams certainly became reality for ANIMONDIAL: not only by participating in a biodiversity COP but, off the back of our co-authored “Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” report with WTTC, by facilitating the establishment of the Nature Positive Tourism Alliance and gaining government support for the initiative.
Our efforts at COP15 efforts culminated in a statement to the High Level Segment of proceedings, when UNWTO said: “Together, the Alliance will support and inspire governments, business, and society to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework … help transform humanity’s relationship with the natural world, and through investment in global destinations, help support national biodiversity strategies and efforts to achieve the 30×30 Targets, and so allow these destinations to become true ’Guardians of Nature’.”
Actions will, of course, be more important than words, and the ability of the Nature Positive Tourism Alliance to deliver on the Global Biodiversity Framework will be the testament to its success. Work begins in January 2023 with the development of an implementation plan and by defining key outputs, but until then we can all celebrate that COP15 could not have had a better outcome for Travel & Tourism.
Global Biodiversity Framework main commitments:
- Integrate biodiversity safeguards into policies, regulations, spatial and urban planning, and development processes, poverty eradication strategies, and environmental assessments, across all sectors;
- Ensure that the use, harvesting and trade of wild species is sustainable, safe and legal, preventing overexploitation;
- Minimise the impact of climate change on biodiversity through Nature-based Solutions, reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity, and reduce the introduction and establishment of known or potential invasive species by 50%, by 2030;
- Encourage and enable businesses to regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity along with their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios, as a mechanism to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity;
- Ensure that people are encouraged and enabled to make sustainable consumption choices;
- Ensure that all actions respect and protect the rights of, and customary sustainable use by, indigenous peoples and local communities.
On behalf of ANIMONDIAL, I’d like to wish you Seasons Greetings, and a Nature Positive 2023!
» Read the finalised Global Biodiversity Framework
» Demonstrate your business’ support by signing on to the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism Nature Positive Tourism
» Discover your business’ risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity. The online Nature Positive Evaluation Tool for Travel & Tourism, enabling your business to discover its impact on nature and take the necessary steps to protect & restore it.
Carbon Offsetting: An essential action or an ineffective distraction?
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
NOW is the time for Travel & Tourism to position itself as a ‘Guardian of Nature’
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
Realising our Vision for Travel & Tourism
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.
So… Where do we start?
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