Businesses will soon be required to adopt procedures that assess the environmental consequences of their decisions, specifically with an aim to minimise impact and act to better protect nature.
Ultimately this recognises that Nature is everyone’s business – and that businesses, as well as the rest of society, must play their part to reverse nature loss. While that sounds the right thing to do, navigating the complexities of the topic(s), to select and apply positively impactful outputs, is far from simple. In fact, it can give rise to many conflicts or dilemmas, such as – what should I try to protect, what are the priority issues, and how to decide actions towards set goal(s) when these may also affect progress towards others?
Protecting wildlife and nature is increasingly defined by our individual values. For instance, are we protecting species and ecosystems, of which wild animals form a key part, for our own sustainable use, or should wild places be left alone with little human interference? Equally, should we only consider wild species as numbers, such as the population of tigers, or should we give greater value to the wellbeing of each individual animal?
I certainly have my own views and values, but when it comes to me providing impartial guidance to Travel & Tourism professionals who wish to support wildlife conservation, I aim to provide information and an overview of opinions to allow informed decisions. Ultimately, the decision what or whom to support resigns with you and your business, but there are some fundamental considerations that I would always encourage before a decision is made.
To navigating this rocky path, I would suggest considering the following ethical perspectives to help you make your informed decision on business actions to protect animals and nature:
Sustainable viewpoint – animals and nature are essentially a resource for human use, the ethical constraint of protective measures is to make sure that wildlife can be used sustainably. For instance, CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) manages legal wildlife trade, only restricting trade if a species is threatened with extinction.
Utilitarian viewpoint – aiming for the best outcome overall by considering both the negative and positive implications. Since animals can suffer if their circumstances negatively impact on their welfare needs, animal welfare should always be considered, even if the animals are in the wild. This perspective can have significant implications for wildlife management, particularly if the animals are causing harm to the people or the natural environment. Opting for a humane approach in all scenarios is our moral obligation.
Animal rights viewpoint – recognises that humans and other animals share physical, biological, and mental similarities, and we should not kill, confine, or otherwise interfere in their lives. This perspective considers the rights of humans and animals in equal measure.
Respect for nature viewpoint – protecting the ‘integrity’ of species, or overall biodiversity, where the protection of species in the ecosystem, to maintain functioning ecosystems, is prioritised. While invasive species that threaten either native species, or ecosystem health, should be removed or killed.
Local viewpoint – consideration for species that are particularly important for the sustainable development of the local community. Whereby animal and plant species, wild or modified, provide vital services or materials, or have a spiritual or cultural importance.
You have probably aligned yourself, or your business, with one of the above perspectives – and that’s not a bad thing. Although from my experience, while each of these ‘viewpoints’ present valuable insights, I would propose a combination of these perspectives when considering your wildlife and nature protection priorities. That way you are applying the necessary due diligence, considering the likely conflicts and dilemmas, before deciding the right choice for you, or your business.
In my opinion, it should not be all about sustainable use, for example. Sustainability does not necessarily mean an activity is responsible and does not cause unnecessary harm. While we do need to ensure our use of wildlife does cause its extinction, we must surely recognise that animals can suffer, and actions must be taken to protect an individual’s welfare whatever the overall goal.
Whatever you decide, I imagine you will agree, that whichever path and perspectives you adopt, it should aim to protect people, animals, and planet.
» Find out more about how businesses can support wildlife and nature conservation
» Keen to learn how to Protect Animals and Nature in tourism?
» Want to discover your business’ Animal Footprint?
Returning from Geneva earlier this month, I was inspired by the sense of urgency demonstrated by national governments, the private sector and civil society, in their acknowledgement that biodiversity protection matters.
I attended the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), which was tasked with considering the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This is Nature’s equivalent of the Paris Climate Agreement, a framework of 21 action-oriented targets aimed at better protecting animals and nature over the decade to 2030.
There was a real impression from the meeting of 196 national governments and global stakeholders – the first in-person meeting for years – that nature is everyone’s business.
That the required transformational change in society’s relationship with animals and nature will need a cross-disciplinary and global collaboration – particularly if humanity needs to “Live in Harmony with Nature” by 2050 (CBD). Governments, business, and civil society must all work together to save nature to save ourselves.
ANIMONDIAL attended with Business for Nature, a global coalition of forward-thinking businesses and conservation organisations, to amplify a powerful leading business voice calling for governments to adopt policies now to reverse nature loss. It was encouraging to learn from various businesses, particularly those that rely on natural resources, and those whose operations potentially impact on nature, that actions are being applied to avoid or minimise negative impact. Furthermore, the realisation that business facilitation tools and procedures already exist and are helping business to mainstream biodiversity values and measure and mitigate impacts.
Sadly, ANIMONDIAL was the only business attending the CBD meeting representing the Travel & Tourism sector. Travel & Tourism is not only highly dependent on nature, but it is instrumental to the financing of protected areas across the globe, influencing policy change, and supporting sustainable development and community empowerment. In fact, this one sector has a significant opportunity to demonstrate its potential for positive contributions and play a leading role in building a global Nature Positive future.
This is the key messaging incorporated into the Travel & Tourism whitepaper on biodiversity and nature protection – soon to be published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with ANIMONDIAL. This report will bridge knowledge gaps, outline common challenges, and set out a Nature Positive Tourism approach that combines climate change mitigation principles with nature protection and sustainable use, to achieve a nature-friendly, low-carbon future.
Whilst the ongoing CBD negotiations are reportedly, disappointingly slow and lack the required ambition (Wildlife Conservation Society), it is important to recognise the role of the private sector. When managed well, its potential to influence meaningful change.
My hope is that when we again congregate at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, China, later this year, the private sector, and in particular Travel & Tourism, will have an influencing role. Whilst governments will ultimately need to agree to adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework, it will be the private sector and the wider society that will be required to fulfil its goals. After all, Nature is everyone’s business.
» Keen to learn how to Protect Animals and Nature in tourism?
» Want to discover your business’ Animal Footprint?
» Unsure about the meaning of biodiversity, nature or Nature Positive?
» Find out about the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
A key objective for ANIMONDIAL, as my colleagues and I draft the WTTC whitepaper on Nature Positive in Travel & Tourism, is to keep it simple. Not because the topic is simple – grappling with biological terms like ‘biodiversity’, ‘ecosystems’, ‘biosphere’, or even ‘Blue Carbon’ can be challenging – but because it is vital that these fundamentals are understood.
This understanding underpins the recognition that the natural world is not only integral to the growth and prosperity of Travel & Tourism, but also vital to the happiness, health, and survival of all humanity.
Consider the difference between biodiversity, ecosystems, and nature, for instance. These can easily be confused, and while their differences may not be important for some, an explanation can help convey why each has a different role to play. I compare nature to a machine: it needs various parts to operate, and energy to drive it. The parts include a wide range of ‘living’ things – this is what we term biodiversity – together with ‘non-living’ components – such as air, water, and soil – and all the interactions between them. Ecosystems are systems within the machine, separate (but connected) groups of living and non-living things, working together to perform many functions. They produce energy and circulate nutrients, clean and enrich the air that we breathe, and provide fresh drinking water, food, materials and even many important medicines – performing what are called ecosystem services. The analogy, while simple, explains the importance of each component and why their loss must be avoided, quite literally, at our peril.
The focus of ANIMONDIAL’s work is to support the Travel & Tourism sector to adopt a Nature Positive approach. As it sounds, this encourages and inspires actions that have a positive impact on nature, while taking measures to minimise or avoid activities that damage nature. Travel & Tourism can drive biodiversity loss and degrade nature, but managed well – by educating customers, employees, and in-destination partners, adopting safeguards, and supporting Nature-Based Solutions – Travel & Tourism can be a force for good, influencing local communities and government to better protect their natural heritage.
These actions are considered as integral to achieving Net Zero, another term that is increasingly promoted. This was the focus of ANIMONDIAL’s January blog. Net Zero is achieved when CO2 emissions are fully balanced by actions that remove and store carbon, so the net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is zero. Many natural processes can be harnessed to remove and store carbon, and global experts recognise that biodiversity loss and climate change mutually reinforce each other and, being driven by the same human activities, can only be tackled together. Failure to do so will have negative consequences on human wellbeing and our quality of life.
While it is vital that all actions and activities that drive biodiversity loss and release CO2 are minimised wherever possible, actions that protect biodiversity and restore nature are equally important. Not only do such measures help maintain the planet’s functioning ecosystems (and the services they provide) but boosting biodiversity can help ensure that greater amounts of atmospheric carbon is absorbed and stored. Actions which use nature protection and enhancement to remove and store carbon are often referred to as Nature-based Solutions.
Maintaining nature’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis in plants and store it in living tissues or dead ‘organic matter’ – either on land (Green Carbon) or in seas and oceans (Blue Carbon) – is key to Nature-based Solutions.
One of our main jobs at ANIMONIDAL is to ensure that the complex world of animal and nature protection is made simple for our clients. By using straightforward and clearly explained terminology we can help to ensure a greater understanding of the issues, the need to act, and the practical options available to adopt a Nature Positive approach.
A sustainable society requires both a stable climate and healthy ecosystems.
ANIMONDIAL has long championed a Nature Positive approach for Travel & Tourism, and in 2022 we celebrate our Year for Biodiversity, recognising the importance of biodiversity and its role in the race to Net Zero. Working with our partners, we aim to guide and support Travel & Tourism towards a Nature Positive future through:
- A whitepaper, in collaboration with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), that positions Travel & Tourism as a force for good in bringing greater value to nature and encouraging its better protection. It will explain the importance of nature, highlight the impacts of mismanagement, provide examples of best practice and champion the opportunities available to Travel & Tourism to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature.
- eTraining, in collaboration with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA). This comprehensive guide for travel providers, tour guides and DMOs on the importance of animal and nature protection in tourism will include expert guidance and interviews, accessible narrative and supporting materials.
- Evaluation of business performance to identify dependencies and impacts on biodiversity and the natural environment. Our ANIMAL FOOTPRINT tool is aligned to industry guidance and biodiversity targets to ensure your business is on course for Net Zero and Nature Positive.
- A Nature Positive toolbox, allowing us to provide Travel & Tourism partners with bespoke solutions to boost biodiversity, restore nature, and reduce carbon emissions both through our services and by engaging experienced specialist organisations.
» Contact ANIMONDIAL to find out more and how you can get involved
» Find out about ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Protection Network