It was through the consultation of both private sector and civil society, as part of our current work with the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, that ANIMONDIAL identified an urgent need to integrate biodiversity safeguards through the Travel & Tourism value and supply chains.
Evidence indicates that the operation of both value and supply chains, largely integrated in the destination, are particularly harmful to nature. Just imagine all the raw materials that Travel & Tourism businesses need to operate. There’s food and freshwater, of course, but then there are the natural materials used for energy and fuel, furniture and furnishings, and all the guest activities that happen in the destination. Travel & Tourism business ultimately need to make sure that the sourcing of materials and their activities on the ground are sustainable and not detrimental to the locations concerned. Flying in millions more people a year into urban and rural locations can take its toll, and on occasion, this causes restricted availability of those resources to local communities. This has generated ill feeling towards tourists and even unrest as local people raise concern about the impact. In some locations, numbers of tourists have been restricted as a result.
Seeking reassurance that the sourcing of raw materials and tourism activities do not have a negative impact can be complex. It requires a need for each business to assess their dependencies and impacts on nature but to also consider the needs of local people. This will need to include an assessment of the business’ direct operations but also their indirect operations, through their respective suppliers.
Working with WTTC and its partners, detailed implementation guidance is now available for T&T businesses (referred to as Nature Positive Tourism), to specifically assess direct business operations. However, unless a tourism business monopolises the activities of its suppliers, ensuring full integration of its Nature Positive commitments, it far more difficult. The assessment of the dependencies and impacts of supply and demand to the destination activities or excursions will largely be reliant on the approachability and interest of the supplier. Another approach may therefore be required to ensure suppliers are mindful of their impacts and are actively seeking to reduce them.
ANIMONDIAL advocates supplier auditing as a guaranteed option to ensuring the right measures are in place and activities are aligned with the business client policies. This is a process, usually undertaken by a third party, that assesses the supplier against the operational requirements of the tour operator, measuring compliance, and providing remedial guidance to encourage improvement. This action has already been deployed to improve animal welfare in global attraction suppliers, and I believe a similar approach is possible using Nature Positive Tourism criteria.
Working with our Partners, the Preverisk Group, ANIMONDIAL is building on its animal welfare auditing criteria to incorporate nature positive objectives and actions. A robust and comprehensive Nature Positive supplier auditing service will soon be available to tourism businesses that are keen to apply their nature positive commitments across the supply chain in their destinations. Combining ANIMONDIAL expertise with global supplier auditing services!
Will you join us?
Preverisk and ANIMONDIAL would welcome collaboration with a travel business partner to help develop this new Nature Positive auditing service and ensure its utmost practical relevance. If you would be interested in playing a leading part in the creation of this new, ground-breaking service to support our sector, please find out more about our partnership with Preverisk, and partnership with Preverisk so we can tell you all about it. Thank you!
This month’s blog is adapted from an interview with Helen by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the voice of the travel and tourism private sector globally. Their full article will soon be available on their website, as part of their ongoing Nature Positive Tourism campaign.
How do you walk the walk?
More and more companies in every sector are issuing statements about how eco-friendly they are – but are they really? A 2021 European Commission study found that nearly half of green claims made by businesses online were “exaggerated, false or deceptive”. More than a third used words like “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” without supporting evidence. It isn’t always easy to follow up on good intentions, so how can travel companies ensure that their environmental commitments are more than just words?
The calls came, and we answered
“It all started because we were receiving calls from a lot of travel businesses,” explains Helen. “They wanted to do the right thing, but they weren’t sure what guidance to follow”. It’s a familiar story – although businesses want to act, they often lack the tools to do so. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a huge, global company,” she says, “sustainability teams are usually only one or two people. Lack of budget or expertise can be an obstacle as well. It’s a problem. Until now, nature protection has been severely under-resourced.”
Taking the first step
Tackling this means finding the right partners, who might be non-profits, universities or biodiversity experts. “Businesses should identify trusted partners to work with,” recommends Helen, “whether it’s a small NGO in a travel destination or a consultant who can help with policy creation or impact assessments. Ultimately, as a travel company, you’re not expected to know everything about every species. So, partner with people who know the area, and perhaps have relevant projects that you can support.”
Find your perfect partner
ANIMONDIAL can help with this, through our Animal Protection Network. As well as a directory of existing members working on different issues around the world, we offer a bespoke service for businesses looking for their ideal match. “To identify the right partner, we start by assessing your business needs and looking at the company’s sustainability focus,” explains Helen. “Nature-related impacts still need to be identified and addressed first. Then we can look at the key issues and opportunities that arise from that to see what sort of partnership makes most sense.”
Partnership is a two-way street
The benefits of working like this go way beyond having a ‘pet project’ to support. “Historically, when people think about NGO partnerships, they see the non-profit as subordinate, grateful for their support,” Helen says. “They want the logo, but don’t always see the powerful opportunity of the partnership to educate the public or achieve strategic change. It’s actually very much a two-way street: NGO partners can be massively beneficial. They can help with biodiversity monitoring, designing sustainable systems or enriching the customer offer, as well as supporting ESG efforts through nature conservation.”
Deep and meaningful
The closer the partnership is, the more there is to gain – for both parties. It has taken a while, but this message is finally starting to sink in, according to Helen. “More companies recognise it now. They value partners who can talk about the science, and who can really be the experts. It’s powerful.”
Seizing the moment
ANIMONDIAL has been advocating for the protection of animals and nature through tourism since we were founded in 2018. Last year was a breakthrough. “Everything came together at COP15, in Montréal,” Helen explains. “It was the first time Travel & Tourism was properly represented at these meetings, and we were very proud to be a part of the delegation, headed by the World Travel and Tourism Council and sitting alongside our new Nature Positive Tourism partners – the UN World Tourism Organization and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.” The message was simple; as Helen puts it: “For years we’ve heard about the dire state our planet is in … this is our last chance to work together to make a difference.”
- To find out more about ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Protection Network and biodiversity partnership services you can book a free discovery call now!
- Find experience and accommodation suppliers that can help you connect with your destinations through the Tourism Cares Meaningful Travel Map
- Become part of the Nature Positive Tourism movement by signing up to the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism
- To learn how to put Nature Positive Tourism into practice in your business, see the WTTC Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report or consult the wide range of resources in the associated Nature Positive Toolkit.
Can Travel & Tourism become nature’s saviour?
In the coming month, the long-anticipated report, “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” will be published. Produced by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in collaboration with ANIMONDIAL, it will help to explain nature’s ability to sustain tourism, absorb carbon emissions, prevent pandemics, and support life. It also underlines Travel & Tourism’s key challenges, which the sector must be overcome, and sets out, what I believe, is a huge potential to address biodiversity loss, and with it, climate change.
These are indeed worrying times – heatwaves are exhausting fresh water supplies, agricultural crops are failing, fish stocks dying, and wildfires destroying vast expanses of nature and people’s homes. There is no doubt that we need to reverse our exploitative and unsustainable ways and seek a future where humanity lives in harmony with nature.
Sounds great in theory, right? But with society and geo-political tensions currently taking us in the wrong direction, could this just be wishful thinking? Or is the solution yet to be fully realised?
I believe that the solution lies with responsible and sustainable tourism.
Take the last couple of years as an example: COVID-19 took hold across the world, people no longer travelled, and the tourism revenues that sustain local livelihoods and protect fragile nature, dried up. The devastating loss of income and an inability to access nutritious food, caused many local people (especially those that live alongside nature) to return to harvesting wildlife and natural resources for survival. With nature-based tourism operations suspended, wildlife poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and the degradation of nature by opportune industries caused widespread biodiversity loss – to an extent not previously seen.
These alarming outcomes demonstrate the relevance and power of tourism.
Just through its operation alone, tourism has an ability to sustain community resilience and wellbeing, while also providing for nature’s health. Consider then its full potential if efforts were directed to lessen operation impact, and support nature-enhancing actions. Imagine the extent of the benefits that could be achieved!
The WTTC ANIMONDIAL report, “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism”, highlights these mutual dependencies as well as the business case for a Nature Positive approach. It encourages Travel & Tourism to assess and better manage its environmental impacts, while also identifying nature-related opportunities to restore, or regenerate nature. Within the publication, this process has been called “Nature Positive Tourism”.
Recognising that pre-COVID tourism revenues contributed to over 10% of global GDP, and nature-based tourism generated upwards of US$600 billion in direct in-country expenditures a year, that supported over 21 million jobs, there appears huge potential for Travel & Tourism to drive Nature Positive change. Managed well, Travel & Tourism can reverse the environmental impacts of COVID, bring greater value to nature, and help to convince even the most disengaged of communities and governments to better protect their natural heritage.
Using the “Towards Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” report as a springboard, the WTTC and ANIMONDIAL hope to work with the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN, and others, to position Travel & Tourism as a key player in supporting global efforts to protect our planet’s natural wonders – in effect, to become ‘GUARDIANS OF NATURE’.
ANIMONDIAL’s Nature Positive Tourism services are available for any business keen to adopt a Nature Positive approach. These services range from an evaluation tool to assess operational impact on biodiversity, risk mitigation tools, such a nature-based product ‘healthcheck’, and a matchmaker service to find biodiversity and animal protection partners to fit business need.
Adopting a Nature Positive Tourism approach can be as easy as ABC …
- Assess your business operations and activities against the five-drivers of biodiversity loss.
- Build a Nature Positive approach that integrates biodiversity safeguards throughout the business and its operations.
- Complement your actions to mitigate nature-related impacts with measurable opportunities to better protect and restore nature.
- Develop destination biodiversity partnerships with NGOs, educational institutions, or government agencies to halt any exploitation or degradation of the natural world, and restore nature lost.
- Empower your employees, destination partners and suppliers, affected communities and customers through simple yet informative communication to encourage the better protection of animals and nature.
» Sign up to ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Footprint initiative to discover your environmental impact.
First steps to identifying actions that reduce impacts and restore nature.
The main message of Nature Positive Tourism is deceptively simple – measure the ways your business impacts on nature, measure the ways it protects and enhances nature, and make improvements until the positives outweigh the negatives. The principle is simple, but at ANIMONDIAL we understand that putting it into practice can be difficult.
Focus on Destinations
The prospect of making all those improvements can seem daunting when you are only just starting the journey. In fact, it may well be simpler than it appears once you understand what needs to be done. For many, the real challenge comes earlier in the process – how do we go about measuring our biodiversity impacts and benefits in the first place?
The key to answering this, lies in the classic environmental slogan: “Think globally, act locally”. Impacts on nature come in many forms, and these depend on the activities that happen and the locations they happen in. For Travel & Tourism, this means looking at the destinations you visit.
The difference we can make
For many travel businesses the focus may be on providing services to customers, however most of the environmental impacts will actually take place on the ground. This is where new developments can destroy vital natural habitat, or existing sites can secure and enhance it. It is where nature viewing trips can disturb and harass wildlife, or sensitively and sustainably fund its protection. Where food supplies can be flown in from intensive farms hundreds of miles away, or sourced from sustainable local agriculture. Destinations are ‘where the rubber meets the road’.
We are all about the Destinations
For many Travel & Tourism businesses, this will mean looking at products and supply chains. In our industry no company is an island – we have to work together to make our clients’ travel dreams come true. Everyone involved in that process has a stake in the traveller’s experience in the destination, and so everyone has a stake in the consequences of that experience. Travellers around the world are increasingly aware of their impacts and keen to ensure that their trips don’t ‘cost the earth’. We have to work together, as an industry, to meet their needs and demands. (The upcoming WTTC and ANIMONDIAL report on Nature Positive Tourism provides a clear and compelling focus for doing just this.)
Focusing on key destinations is crucial to understanding the environmental impacts and opportunities of a Travel & Tourism business. It is likely that operations will vary from one place to another, but it is certain that nature will. A broad understanding of environmental issues at each location is essential to identify the major threats, challenges, needs and opportunities for the wildlife and ecosystems that live there.
Your guide to thinking local
ANIMONDIAL can help Travel & Tourism businesses build that knowledge and insight. Whether you choose to create extra capacity in-house, through local partners or by engaging professional consultants, we can guide the process with the level of input you need. As well as supporting you with our years of experience and contacts, ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Footprint online tool offers an evaluation of your Nature Positive business performance. We also have a network of trusted partners that can provide specialist services. Whether you want to identify the biodiversity at a specific site with Nature Metrics eDNA analysis, calculate the economic value of a particular animal in your area with the Endangered Wildlife Biodiversity Valuator or conduct a rapid assessment on the ground with Organeco, we can help you identify and engage the expertise you need.
Where does the journey start?
As with so much of Travel & Tourism, local knowledge is the key. As we build our understanding of an area, our nature-related impacts and opportunities within it become clear. So, if you want to improve your Nature Positive credentials but are still wondering where to begin, just remember that a Nature Positive Tourism journey starts at the destination!
Don’t forget …
- Think about impacts and opportunities in the Destinations you serve
- Work closely with suppliers and partners as a Travel & Tourism team
- Build lasting partnerships with local nature-focused NGOs and other organisations to generate additional benefits for everyone
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!