What’s SDG17 got to do with it?

Ants working together

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!

Helen Usher, Director ANIMONDIAL

Join the Sustainability Revolution!

Deer looking at the city

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

This quote has sprung to mind several times over the past seven months and is perhaps now more poignant to the Travel and Tourism sector than most. According to the World Trade Tourism Council in 2019, prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the sector supported 330 million jobs globally, and now as we hit the difficult winter season, we are likely to suffer 197.5 million job losses.

This is indeed a time of unprecedented global crisis, a time we switch to survival mode, to save our jobs, and our industry. However, there is STILL opportunity. Not of increased profit and market growth, but of increased global determination to fight an invisible war and build back with a greater respect for nature.

Nature is indeed ‘everyone’s business’. According to the Business for Nature Initiative, over half of the world’s GDP is reliant upon it, and through unsustainable supply chains, we are drawing away more than can be replenished.

At no time in our history has consumer priority towards safety and ethical standards been higher. People are putting their trust in businesses to make things better, and it is suggested that global brands have more influence over public conscious than our political leaders. Through Business for Nature, corporations are calling on governments to adopt policies to reverse nature loss in this decade. This is a journey I am proud to be a part of. This month ANIMONDIAL was honoured to reach the finals of the Lloyds Bank National Business Award for Social Impact for our work to galvanise the amazing work of NGOs and travel businesses through the crisis.

At this time of increased global unity, could we be facing a new revolution? – The Sustainability Revolution. Never have we seen such focus on ethical rights and responsibilities – the rise of veganism and ethical consumerism, the growth of importance of the Global Sustainable Development Goals… and then in walks Covid-19 to knock us all sideways! We need to better protect nature for our own survival. In this blog, I am choosing to focus on the biggest issue of this generation: the survival of Planet Earth, and the role of the travel and tourism sector to lead the way for the Sustainability Revolution…

First of all, let’s look at the problem…

In economic terms, nature is believed to have an estimated value generation of 44 trillion US dollars (equal to over half of the world’s total GDP!) However, humanity’s negative impact on the planet is not only contributing to the Climate Change Crisis but also increasing the occurrence of animal-to-human (zoonotic) infectious disease such as Covid-19. In fact, over 60% of all known diseases discovered in the last 50 years originate from animals and spread to us when the protective barrier of nature has been jeopardised.

But why should all this matter to us, the travel sector?

  • The lack of tourists visiting national parks may well have stemmed the tide of negative impact caused by ‘over-tourism’, but the lack of revenue has resulted in less money generation for conservation efforts.
  • With wildlife tourism supporting over 30million jobs, lockdown puts a huge strain on local communities.
  • With park staff and anti-poaching patrols losing employment, threatened wildlife, such as the highly endangered pangolin or black rhino, are left increasingly vulnerable to further persecution.
  • Tourism itself, puts an enormous stress on the natural environment, and encourages greater contact between nature and people, thus heightening exposure of viral transference.
  • And of course, other animal species are at risk of catching the virus and passing it on. Malayan tigers at the Bronx Zoo contracted Covid-19, whilst non-human primates are also highly susceptible. As projects are struggling for funds to continue their conservation work – we are at risk of losing some of our most vulnerable animal species.

Recognising that up to 60% of holiday excursions or experiences, and up to 96% of all tourism activities in Asia, involve animals and nature, we must all take positive actions right now.

The good news, however, is that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to some ground-breaking positive change for animals and nature. As human activity has reduced, nature has taken advantage! There have been encouraging reports of re-wilding of urban areas. We have seen wildlife – from coyotes, spotted at the Golden Gate Bridge – to wild horses grazing in downtown Washington DC. In Asia, China is closing live animal markets and announcing a ban on wildlife consumption. And one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic tourist destinations, Siem Reap has taken major strides to protect dogs and cats by banning their trade and consumption.

Taking all of this into account, what steps can we take at this challenging time to aid our recovery and rebuild the travel and tourism sector for the better protection of the planet?

Step 1: Look inwardly

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:

  • Adopt new animal and nature SDG commitments for your business and ensure these are ingrained into all your business practises and operations.
  • Use this opportunity to audit your tourism experiences that involve animals or nature to identify and mitigate risk of zoonotic disease transfer and negative local impact.
  • Encourage activity-suppliers to adopt their own animal protection commitments through selling only responsible and sustainable experiences, and supporting suppliers to improve standards, avoiding loss of local livelihoods.
  • Educate customers about animal and nature protection. Use this time to create new customer guidelines and educational materials to engage their interest and report any questionable activities.

Step 2: Collaborate!

‘Nature is everyone’s business’! Changing our relationship with nature is too great a task to do on our own. Working together we can make big impact for the better protection of animals and nature in tourism.

  • Sign up to the World Trade Tourism Council Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade and the International Wildlife Trade Zero Tolerance Policy to to support the protection of endangered species.
  • Join the World Economic Forum’s Business for Nature initiative, engaging governments to reverse nature loss by 2030.
  • Support global tourism solutions: Work together to establish and invest in new solutions to some of the biggest, long standing issues for animals and nature in tourism.
  • Work with NGOs to deliver meaningful change: This can be as simple as signing a pledge, donating skills or funds to help them deliver their work or including projects within holiday portfolios.

Step 3: Shout about it!

For the marketeers amongst us: do not let all this good work go unnoticed! Speak to colleagues and ask them to tell you what actions your company is taking to help save the planet and then shout about them! Tell amazing stories and win over the hearts and minds of customers by building your brand as one that cares for the planet! And importantly, use your influence to inspire others to follow your lead.

When lockdowns ease, we have a choice of returning to unsustainable ‘business as usual’, or to take greater responsibility moving forward. So, perhaps now is our chance to take stock, hit reset and set new intentions towards a better future. Join the new revolution and leave your legacy to save nature and save ourselves!

For all travel businesses keen to know more about how to Build Back Better for Animals,
sign up to ANIMONDIAL’s free monthly newsletter.

Helen Usher, Director ANIMONDIAL