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

Helen Usher, Director ANIMONDIAL

COP15: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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.

» Want to know more about ANIMONDIAL and its Nature Positive services?
» Keen to learn how to Protect Animals and Nature in tourism?
» Unsure about the meaning of biodiversity, nature or Nature Positive?
» Find out about the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

Nature is everyone’s business

Credit: Convention on Biological Diversity

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

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

Working in harmony with nature

There is now no doubt, planetary health, animal exploitation, biodiversity loss, emergent disease and climate change are all interconnected and stem from the often-exploitative human activity on the natural world. The costs of inaction will be far greater than the costs of resolution. Whereby everyone will be affected unless everyone plays their part.

At CoP26 next week, the UN Climate Change Conference, world leaders will debate how and when, during a year of unprecedented challenges, they will implement actions to fulfil the Paris Climate Accords. Ultimately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. Planet Earth is currently experiencing its highest atmospheric CO2 concentrations, that has not been equalled for millions of years. Inactively to reduce emissions will result in temperature rises that threaten the balance of life and the collapse of everything that gives us security.

An inevitable outcome of CoP26 are regulatory measures that will enforce decarbonisation, which are understandably at the forefront of the minds of the green-conscious business that wants to play their part. For the travel and tourism sector, however, limiting carbon emissions, whilst recommended, can only be minimal.

Nature-enhancing solutions, on the other hand, provides the sector with a relatively cost-effective solution to this conundrum. Nature is the very fabric on which all life on Earth is based. It includes the plants and the animals, the soil and the rock, and the air and water on which life depends. Whilst biodiversity refers to the multitude of living things that make up nature – the 8 million or so species on the planet – including us, humans. Nature has the natural ability to absorb and store carbon so, the greater the biodiversity, the greater the amount of carbon stored. Travel and tourism already value nature, from its vital eco-system services to the uniqueness it provides to the destinations we love to visit. This literal lifeline offers travel and tourism an opportunity to bring greater value to nature, ensure its better protection, and ultimately position the sector a force for good.

This was my proposition to the Latin American travel and tourism sector during the LATA’s EXPO this October. Latin America is hugely undervalued, considering it is the most biodiverse geographical region on Earth. It is home to most of the known amphibian species, birds, mammal species, and an amazing 60,000 species of tree! Not only that, but its forests produce 20% of the oxygen we breathe, act as a store of 50% of all the carbon dioxide we humans produce, absorb solar radiation, limit the Earth’s reflectivity, regulates our freshwater supply, and stabilise climatic conditions. All vital allies in our struggle to combat climate change. Yet 100 acres of rainforest is cleared every minute, with Amazon wildfires, said to cause the loss of 10 million hectares each year. Why? Because local communities currently put greater value on the conversion of forest to agricultural land, than the protection of the forests.

Tourism has the ability to reverse this disruptive, and life-destroying trend. Managed responsibly, tourism can bring greater value to these wild places, encouraging the better protection of animals and nature, and incentivise local guardianship rather than deforestation.

To that end, ANIMONDIAL and the LATA Community are working together to reduce travel and tourism’s negative impact on the region where possible and champion nature-enhancing practices. Launching in 2022, a year devoted to biodiversity, the initiative will celebrate Latin America’s rich biodiversity. Mobilising governments, businesses, and communities to bridge the gap in knowledge and understanding, identify and minimise negative impact, adopt sustainable practices and restore nature lost.

Whatever happens at CoP26, action on climate change is already affecting the way we value land and ecosystems. But waiting for our governments to act may be too late, let this be an opportunity for travel and tourism to take the reins, and ensure biodiversity-rich, lower income countries have the opportunity to benefit financially from restoring their climate-friendly landscapes. Delivering nature’s approach to lessening climate change and our ability to work in harmony with nature.

» Watch ANIMONDIAL’s presentation of LATA – The Value of Biodiversity

» Find out more about the significance of CoP26 and CoP15

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

CoPs & Dodgers! Defining steps to reduce the global crises

It is now just weeks until the world’s governments meet to decide the necessary steps for addressing biodiversity loss and climate change.

CoP15 (11 – 15 October) will consider global actions to reverse biodiversity loss, whilst CoP26 (31 October – 12 November) will consider global climate action. Both events will bring together the governments of most nations (a Conference of the Parties) to negotiate and agree targets and actions to tackle these increasingly imposing crises, now regarded as interconnected issues requiring a joined-up approach (IPBES & IPCC, 2021).

There is, of course, concern that there will be ‘the dodgers’, those who fail to recognise the threats and act on their responsibilities, and others who may still claim there is nothing to worry about. But the facts, and the evidence of the need to act, couldn’t be clearer. Stark reports show that Planet Earth is facing its 6th Mass Extinction of wildlife, with biological diversity disappearing and threatening our reliance on fresh air, water, food, and wellbeing (etc.), as well as contributing to the ever-eventful severe weather. These issues affect us all. There is literally no room for dodgers at these CoPs!

The scientific community has clearly presented the case: a “Code red for humanity” where “big systematic changes [are needed] and fast” to address “the huge scale of the challenges we are facing” (IPCC & IPBES, 2021). Whilst this is difficult reading, particularly at a time when the travel and tourism sector is seeking to bounce back following the pandemic, still we must act. While our governments decide on the CoP targets, we, as businesses and individuals, must not dodge our responsibilities. We must act now to minimise negative impact and adopt the necessary measures to fulfil biodiversity protection targets.

ANIMONDIAL, the specialist consultancy that advises the travel and tourism sector on all matters concerning animal and nature protection, has adopted the call to action: “Build Back Better for Animals”. It recognises that such an action will not only seek to reverse biodiversity loss, but also reduce climate change. Pursuing this mandate provides a valuable opportunity for the travel and tourism sector to become a driver of positive change, counterbalancing its unavoidable impacts with widespread direct and indirect benefits. ANIMONDIAL’s initiatives provide travel businesses with the means to identify and minimise impacts while supporting nature-based solutions: actions already aligned to the (anticipated) CoP15 outcomes.

ANIMONDIAL’s step-by-step approach will certainly cater for those businesses already looking to make strides to fulfil their biodiversity protection and climate action obligations, while the rest will wait for CoP outcomes, legal requirements, and likely incentives.

But why wait?

In fact, we already know the probable outcomes of CoP15, as presented by the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which governments are currently considering. The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, a group of 60 countries chaired by Costa Rica, France and the UK, is pushing for far-reaching, concrete action on biodiversity. It joins UNEP and multiple NGOs in advocating, as a minimum, the goal of putting 30% of global land and sea area under protected status by 2030. Some supporters include additional milestones such as a 5% increase in the “area, connectivity and integrity of natural systems” and the halting or reversing of the current increase in the global extinction rate.

These are all measures that can become objectives for the Travel and Tourism sector. Nature is already integral to much of the tourism product offering and the destinations we all love to visit. Ensuring its protection, and where possible, regeneration, will incentivise the better protection of nature and wildlife, from community to government levels, through the benefit of tourism revenues. This presents a relatively simple nature-based solution to counterbalance tourism’s unavoidable impacts.

Reducing carbon emissions is the current call to arms, and this is certainly required. But as travel businesses, emission reductions will always be limited. However, tourism’s ability to better protect animals and nature is a huge opportunity to fulfil obligations addressing both biodiversity loss and climate change.

How to Build Back Better for Animals


ANIMONDIAL’s path to nature-based solutions through tourism

» Check out ANIMONDIAL’s Services 

» Join our mission to Build Back Better for Animals

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

The ‘Make-or-Break Decade’ to Protect Nature

Whilst CoP15, to set new global targets to protect Biological Diversity, is now likely to move from October 2021 to May 2022 (due to the pandemic), there is no reason for businesses to wait to play their part. Why wait for our governments to act when everyone is responsible?

Last week, when the EU Block launched its proposed new Green Deal, we were reminded of the urgency we face, we are already in the ‘make-or-break decade’ in the fight against the climate and nature crises. Policymakers and governments will set targets and the regulatory framework to enact it, but this will take time, require political support, and the need for each industry, business, and individual to understand the need and what to do. Time that we don’t have.

This was certainly my view when ANIMONDIAL successfully pitched to draft the guidance document to support the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Buenos Aires Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade. The Declaration sets out clear targets for the Travel & Tourism signatories to aim for, but it doesn’t provide instruction on how to achieve them, neither does it recognise the different kinds of businesses and their unique services and operations. The WTTC guidelines, Preventing Illegal Wildlife Trade, crafted by ANIMONDIAL, bring clarity to a complex issue, and provides travel businesses with relevant advice to follow and viable actions to take. Tourism can proliferate illegal wildlife trade and hinder its elimination, but it can also influence the protection of wildlife, so as travel businesses, please do what you can to adopt the guidance.

The recent pre-CoP15 announcements by both the EU and the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, propose some ambitious targets to address the climate and nature crises. However, sceptics are already questioning their viability, pointing out that not one government achieved the former Aichi Targets for biodiversity, and so far, none of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are likely to be fulfilled by 2030. It is a concerning thought that many of those required to support or meet the proposed EU and UN targets are already saying they are not achievable!

Let’s consider some of the targets proposed by the EU and UN for a moment:

  • Protection for 30% of the World’s land and Oceans by 2030 (currently at 15.7% and 7.7% respectively) (UN)
  • 1/3 climate crisis mitigation delivered through valuing and protecting nature (UN)
  • Reducing pesticide use by 2/3 (UN), eliminating plastic pollution (UN), higher renewables targets and taxing carbon emissions (EU)
  • Planting 3 billion trees (EU), protecting ‘old forests’ (EU) and cutting species extinction rates by 90% by 2050 (UN)

All welcomed targets, and perfectly achievable if applied globally, enforced by national legislative framework, and underpinned by effective, sector-specific guidance and actions. Let’s not wait for the governments to meet, for the targets to be set, and for the legal frameworks to be applied. Businesses and their leaders should decide their own sector-specific targets and the guidance to provide the individual business with relevant advice to follow and viable actions to take.

As travel and tourism businesses, you already value nature and what it uniquely brings to the product you sell and the destinations you visit. Through your operations, nature and its wildlife can be better protected, negative impact minimised, and actions customised to improve safeguards and optimise outputs. Why wait until May 2022 to act?

Acting now, and if managed well, travel and tourism can be a force for good. It can value wildlife, their habitats, and destinations – which in turn incentivises national and local action to better protect animals and nature.

Now is the time to Build back Better for Animals.

» View WTTC’s Guidelines on Preventing Illegal Wildlife Trade

» Sign up to our initiative to Build Back Better for Animals


REFERENCES

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL