Crafting a Nature Positive Tourism Strategy

If you want your business to work for nature, you need a strategy. Powerful statements and piecemeal actions, however well-intentioned, can only take you so far. To make meaningful changes, there has to be a proper plan. But what does that look like? And where do you start?

Why do you need a strategy?

Having a business strategy for nature is increasingly common. From consumers to investors, many people look for this when deciding whether to use or support your business. A strategy can also help with your environmental reporting – a requirement that is constantly expanding, especially after the global adoption of the Biodiversity Plan in 2022 and with the EU working on new far-reaching legislation

Isn’t it a lot of work?

Creating a strategy for nature may seem like a huge job, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. For a start, it isn’t just one more sustainability-related strategy. Sustainability is all about nature, so a nature strategy unites all your sustainability initiatives under a single set of goals and provides a context to streamline and prioritise them.

Ultimately, a nature strategy is an investment. It puts your business in a strong position to respond to the ever-increasing focus on these issues. From public communications to ESG reporting to regulatory compliance, once you have it you won’t know how you lived without it

Where to start

The basic steps for integrating nature protection through a business are straightforward. They have been presented in many different ways over the years, but recently several expert organisations have rallied around the ‘ACT-D’ formula – Assess, Commit, Transform and (continuously) Disclose. This is the presentation used by Business for Nature and their Now for Nature initiative.

At ANIMONDIAL we use the Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap. This has been developed specifically for the Travel & Tourism sector and is endorsed by the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership (the World Travel & Tourism Council, UN Tourism and the World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance). The Roadmap follows the same principles as other guidance but is designed to be more accessible for smaller businesses and focus on issues that are particularly relevant to T&T.


Before creating your strategy, you need to have some context. What does the strategy cover and what is it intended to achieve? To answer these questions, you need to make decisions on issues like materiality, scope and value chain. This last one is especially important for T&T where so many businesses can be involved in delivering the overall service, and hence be responsible for the impacts it has.


Now you need to make a full assessment of your nature-related risks, dependencies and impacts. There can be quite a lot to consider at this stage, so make sure you have suitable internal expertise and capacity or use an external consultancy to help.

One tried and tested solution is ANIMONDIAL’s Natour Impact assessment tool. This is tailored to the T&T industry and provides a comprehensive evaluation of your business processes to safeguard nature, animal welfare, communities and sustainable consumption. We will walk you through the process, with all the information submitted through our online portal, before providing you with a full report, debrief and individual recommendations for next steps. (To find out more, just drop us a line.)

Defining your policy

Based on the findings of the assessment, you need to define your response. This is likely to take the form of a commitment or a nature policy, which sets outs the overall goals that the strategy will enable you to meet. This should cover all the key issues in ways that are relevant and practical for your business, and specify actionable goals.

Developing meaningful, progressive policy statements is something we have lots of experience of at ANIMONDIAL. Whether or not you have done the full Natour Impact assessment, if you want help creating a policy statement that gives you purpose and direction, don’t hesitate to get in touch !

Getting to work

Now you are ready to start work on the strategy. This will lay out the actions that you plan to take in order to achieve the policy goals.

Remember that existing strategies, for instance for carbon emissions, plastics use or energy consumption, can be slotted into the nature strategy as they are. There is no need to reinvent the wheel! However, this may be a good time to review them and ensure that they align with your overall business goals for nature.


Obviously, a critical element of the strategy will be reducing your negative impacts. The key principle for doing this is the Mitigation Hierarchy. This is defined slightly differently in different contexts but for Nature Positive Tourism it is presented as Avoid (the best option), Minimise, Restore, Regenerate (the last resort). For more detail on the hierarchy and how to apply it, see page 40 of the World Travel & Tourism Council report Nature Positive Travel & Tourism (2022).


The strategy should also look at ways that the business can help to restore nature and enhance biodiversity. Simple ways of doing this, like giving to charities or purchasing biodiversity credits, are only part of the solution, at best. It is important to look for restoration opportunities on your sites, in your operations and through your value chain. The goal is for restoring nature to be part of your business, not a drain on your profits.

Pick your partners

Partnering with nature restoration projects in destinations opens up many opportunities to support their work beyond just funding. The ability to share important messages with travellers, and often to connect them directly with restoration activities, can unlock huge benefits. Logistic support can also be very valuable, as can strategic support and advocacy within the business community and political sphere. Partnerships like this can benefit the travel business as well with enriched visitor experiences, technical support and local knowledge.

ANIMONDIAL can facilitate partnerships like this through our Animal Protection Network of approved on-the-ground organisations and our bespoke Biodiversity Partnerships service.

Things to think about

Other issues that your strategy should consider include:
• Engaging your supply chain to ensure that they align with your values and goals;
• Connecting with destinations to ensure that your actions are felt in the same place as your impacts;
• Setting SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound) and where possible validating them through the Science-Based Targets Network;
• Including actions to monitor and report on your actions and to communicate the outcomes to customers and the business community.

It is also important to make sure that you mainstream biodiversity values throughout your organisation. Implementing your strategy will much easier and more effective if it is understood across departments and especially at senior management level. One way to do this is through trainings offered by ANIMONDIAL. We can provide anything from a one hour introductory presentation to a multi-day workshop built around your unique policy and strategy. Just contact us and we’ll explain all the options.

Of course, embarking on a journey like this can be a lot easier if you have an experienced guide. That’s why ANIMONDIAL is always here to help. Whether you need a full strategy development service or someone to fill specific gaps in capacity or expertise, we can tailor our services to your situation. Just drop us a line for more details

Be Part of the Plan

How everyone, everywhere can help to halt and reverse biodiversity loss

Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth – the different plants, animals, and microorganisms. It is essential for the provision of a myriad of ecosystem services that provide for basic human needs, underpin human health and wellbeing, and help us to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.

Biodiversity loss is already having a catastrophic impact around the world. It is no longer considered just an environmental issue but a fundamental threat to our economies and societies, and our ability to fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Be Part Of The Plan

On 22nd May, the UN International Day for Biodiversity 2024, individuals, businesses, governments and society are being urged to highlight the ways in which they are supporting the implementation of the UN Biodiversity Plan (also called the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework). Everyone has a role to play, so everyone can Be Part of the Plan.

Last month, the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, in collaboration with ANIMONDIAL, launched the Nature Positive Travel & Tourism in Action report. This highlights actions taken by both private and public Travel & Tourism organisations, from across the world, to protect nature and enhance biodiversity. Travel & Tourism is highly dependent on nature (biodiversity and ecosystem services) and can also have a substantial influence on biodiversity loss – in both positive and negative ways.

Many of the case studies presented in the report feature innovative collaborations between private and public organisations and local communities. They show how diverse organisations can work together to protect animal welfare and endangered species, prevent biodiversity loss, and regenerate nature. Please do check out these case studies, which we hope will inspire and empower meaningful change.

Reversing biodiversity loss and protecting nature does not need to be a huge effort. There are some simple actions that anyone can take to protect and restore biodiversity and to Be Part of the Plan.

As a start, you could:
– Install timer or sensor switches on lights and heating systems

– Measure your carbon emissions and progressively reduce them through an action plan

– Capture rainwater and use for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens, etc.

– Switch to paper straws, cardboard plates and wooden cutlery as disposable options

– Plant native species and wildflowers and minimise use of pesticides

– Check out sustainable options for your key purchases and stick to FSC timber, MSC seafood, etc.

– When looking for suppliers, start local and include sustainability performance in your evaluation

– Safeguard animal welfare, buy high-welfare foods, and ensure wildlife items are legally sourced

– Start supporting a local, community-based nature project – even just through a collection box

– Talk to your partners, suppliers, staff and customers about your nature positive ambitions

It is so easy to Be Part of the Plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030!

Identify & measure your nature-related risks

To be as effective and impactful as possible when aiming to mitigate your impacts on nature, it helps to identify and measure your nature-related risks. That way you can see where and how your operations and activities are directly or indirectly contributing to biodiversity loss. This, in turn, provides useful insight on where to focus your efforts and resources to best mitigate impacts and build on opportunities to protect and restore nature. This approach is often more impactful and cost-effective than simply applying generic actions, like those listed above, without looking at your own specific case.

ANIMONDIAL has created an evaluation tool to help Travel & Tourism businesses understand their environmental footprint and measure their operational impacts on biodiversity. Called NATOUR IMPACT, it combines both legal obligations and industry best practice to assess business performance and guide actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss within destinations. Tailored for the Travel & Tourism sector, it offers a simple but effective approach for businesses to Be Part of the Plan.

Your action on International Day for Biodiversity could be as quick and easy as booking in a call with ANIMONDIAL to discuss how you can start your nature positive journey.

Whatever you choose to do, the message is simple. We all can, and should, be doing something to ensure the health of the planet for future generations.

Take action for nature today:
Find out more about the UN International Day for Biodiversity (22 May).
Sign up in support of a nature-positive future and receive free guidance.
Refer to the Nature Positive Travel & Tourism in Action report (May, 2024).
Check out ANIMONDIAL’s Natour Impact environmental impact assessment tool.

The Future of Tourism – in Action!

This month, we are celebrating the launch of the new report Nature Positive Travel & Tourism in Action. Published by the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, and prepared by ANIMONDIAL, this represents a watershed moment for the sector.

Following on from the 2022 Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), also prepared by ANIMONDIAL, this new document takes a giant step forward. More than a blueprint for change, it is a handbook for sector transformation.

Firstly, it is delivered by a collaboration of industry bodies at the highest international level – the WTTC, UN Tourism and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. This partnership is critical for mobilising the entire sector. Businesses can be limited in their ability to realise Nature Positive Tourism if government policies and strategies do not support them. At the same time, government attempts to change their tourism frameworks face countless problems if the private sector is not aligned and co-operative.

Through the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership we now have a road map for the entire sector, public and private, to chart a course to a nature positive future for Travel & Tourism.

Secondly, this report focuses on action. The 2022 report laid out the urgency of the global need to act for nature, the particular relevance of this issue to Travel & Tourism, and the recommended strategic approach for businesses in the sector (the Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap). This report moves on from there to grapple with the specifics of putting these principles into practice.

In doing this, it is guided by the results of an industry-wide consultation that ANIMONDIAL led last year on behalf of the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership. This was a multi-stage process involving over 50 experts from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia. It compiled the sector’s best understanding of its nature-related risks and impacts as well as the challenges and opportunities it is likely to encounter in realising Nature Positive Tourism. (A review of the outcomes of the consultation is available here).

With these insights as a guide, the new report provides practical guidance for businesses of all sizes and types (and for public sector bodies as well). This includes a ‘Biodiversity Basics’ tip for every stage in the Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap, explaining how businesses with limited capacity can easily but effectively begin their nature positive journey.

It also includes over 30 diverse case studies from around the world, illustrating real-world approaches to all the key areas of action. These case studies are what really bring Nature Positive Tourism to life. Every business will face different challenges, but the message of these inspiring stories is that solutions can be found, new ideas and new models are waiting to be explored, and the power of Travel & Tourism to be a Guardian Of Nature is only just being discovered.

With apologies to Winston Churchill, this report is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.

A lot of work still needs to happen across the sector – within individual businesses, government bodies, associations, alliances and beyond. We will continue to do that work and to help others do it. We plan to support the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership as they roll out an ongoing programme of events and resources, expected to include webinars, further case studies and representation for the sector at the level of global biodiversity policy.

As you can tell, we are very happy to have played a part in bringing this report to the sector, and to the global business community. Nature Positive Tourism materials are already used by Business for Nature in their sector-specific guidance, which encourages similar initiatives in several key business sectors. It is fitting that Travel & Tourism – which inspires so much love of nature and has such influence over what happens to it – should be among the most progressive in this field.

As lovers of both nature and travel, we believe in a future where the two can co-exist, supporting and enhancing each other. Reading this report, we can see this future come into focus – and we hope everyone else who reads it will too.

Please take a moment to download the report and see how it can inspire you.

Nature Positive Tourism – your journey to Net Positive for Nature

Protecting and restoring nature, by maintaining healthy, functioning ecosystems and safeguarding biodiversity, should now be a priority for all governments, businesses, and society. Without nature, we simply do not have the natural resources or services that ensure our survival. Knowing what to do, where to start and how to identify our dependencies and impacts on nature need not be a challenge.

ANIMONDIAL has been working with the leading agencies of the Travel & Tourism industry to ensure its sectors and businesses have the information, guidance and tools necessary to scope, assess and reduce their nature-related risks, dependencies and impacts. This has produced a universal approach, called “Nature Positive Tourism”, that encourages businesses to go beyond sustainability and begin to compensate for unavoidable impacts by building back biodiversity.

This year, ANIMONDIAL will focus on raising greater awareness of Nature Positive Tourism: what it is and how businesses can embrace it. A Travel and Tourism Overview has been produced with the global coalition Business for Nature and a further report, Nature Positive Travel & Tourism in Action, will soon be published by the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership. These both support business action and share practical examples of how businesses are benefiting from this approach.

EXODUS Adventure Travels, a 50-year-old UK-based tour operator, is one such business that has integrated the Nature Positive Tourism approach into its operations. Keen to know more, I caught up with Rochelle Turner, Head of Sustainability at EXODUS, to find out how they are getting on.

“It’s been fundamental to our trips that we tread lightly and respect the natural and cultural environment.  In the last few years, we’ve taken to ensuring that we’ve got more documented proof of these actions and that we challenge any practices that don’t align with our vision of being a nature positive business.”

Rochelle explains that the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, 2019) was the starting point for their plan. It explained the five key drivers of biodiversity loss and helped them identify actions to minimise or avoid unsustainable activities and work towards restoring nature. EXODUS adopted a “simple plan of remove, reduce and restore”, a process aligned with Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap presented in the World Travel & Tourism Council report (WTTC, 2022).

“Through our plan, we identified the things we need to remove entirely (i.e. plastics, any negative wildlife interactions, other waste) and take action to reduce our negative impacts (i.e. reducing our carbon emissions) and where we had an opportunity to bring about positive change and restore nature (investing in rewilding and citizen science activities). All these actions form the basis of our Nature Positive Plan upon which we set goals to 2023. I’ve now been updating this with new actions across the next 3-5 years.”

It is encouraging to see businesses proactively adopt Nature Positive Tourism and demonstrate how it can be applied practically, although this is not without its challenges.

“One of the main challenges as a tour operator is trying to enact change where we don’t have direct control.  We can set the policies and minimum standards, but at times and in certain places, it is difficult for them to be reached,” explained Rochelle. “Just a small example – we have a goal to not provide any single use water bottles to our guests and only ever use refillable bottles with clean, purified water.  We’re at 94% which is great, but we want 100%.  In certain parts of the world and particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, we are still searching for solutions.”

ANIMONDIAL received similar feedback from a peer review consultation last year – noting the challenges of Nature Positive Tourism integration through the supply and value chains. This will be another area of focus for ANIMONDIAL this year as we continue to work with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the WTTC and the World Tourism Organisation to drive industry-level solutions. However, these potential obstacles shouldn’t stop more Travel & Tourism businesses committing to the Nature Positive Tourism approach and contributing to efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Rochelle emphasises the need for businesses to keep their nature positive action plans simple.

“It helps to communicate the message internally and embed the required actions within people’s roles. It also helps provide that all-important evidence and proof that what we say about our trips and how we operate is real and based on a thorough appreciation for what truly brings positive change for nature.”

Travel & Tourism businesses can certainly learn from each other and ANIMONDIAL will be encouraging and facilitating this throughout 2024, noting the need to act now for nature. This will include a series of webinars and practical guidance, delivered through the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, and various other initiatives to support business and encourage a joined-up approach to protecting nature.

Asked about the priorities for EXODUS this year, Rochelle shared the need to review their Nature Positive Plan, combine their climate change mitigation commitments, and ensure their collective goals align with the Global Goals for Nature.

Whatever your Nature Positive Tourism goals are for the coming year, ANIMONDIAL can help guide you through them. Contact us or book in a call to find out how.

Listed reports and references:

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

Destination Connection

Life may be all about the journey, but travel & tourism is all about the destination. It is about being in a different place, breathing it in, and connecting with it. And that sense of connection is as vital to our efforts to protect and restore nature as it is to the experience of those who visit.

Discovering the Disconnect

Unfortunately, making that connection is not as easy as it first appears. In a recent consultation, conducted by ANIMONDIAL on behalf of the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, the issue of ‘destination disconnect’ was raised several times. Even when business intentions are good, it seems there are difficulties translating this into real improvements for biodiversity on the ground.

Important insights from the Partnership

The consultation itself formed the basis of a new publication by the Partnership, led by the World Travel & Tourism Council, UNWTO and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (and co-authored by ANIMONDIAL). Titled ‘A Nature Positive Future for Travel & Tourism’, the report was soft-launched at the UNWTO General Assembly this month, with the full release expected before the end of the year. The consultation, involving 50 experts from business, government, academia and NGOs, underpins the guidance and recommendations, which are supported by a wealth of sector-specific case studies.

Connect to connect

One of the key messages is the need for partnerships of shared purpose. By combining the strengths of businesses, government agencies and civil society, and where relevant, local communities, even the most challenging of obstacles can be overcome. When it comes to connecting with the destination, collaborating with local organisations and communities is a powerful and efficient way to bridge the gap.

Two-way street

Partnering with local groups isn’t just a great way to support their work and achieve nature positive goals, it can also unlock real business benefits. Long-term collaborations can provide opportunities to enhance tourism products and improve local operations, as well being a great source of marketing and PR assets and ESG content. In addition, partnerships with local community groups or NGOs that work in destinations can provide a lifeline of reliable information and data to help businesses report on impact and keep track of what is happening on the ground. For example, through partnering with a local organisation in the depths of the Indonesian rainforest, a business could invest in their expertise to support species protection and biodiversity restoration, as well as to provide regular monitoring information for KPI tracking and ESG reporting.

Tried and tested

Working with local organisations isn’t a new or radical idea – several progressive companies are already doing it. Iberostar, for instance, works with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to promote sustainable fisheries practice in the Canary Islands, and also with the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies to study and protect seagrass meadows. Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel (through the Intrepid Foundation) supports the restoration and protection of coastal and wetland ecosystems in Victoria through the Blue Carbon Lab and, on one site, working with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. The Maldives is a hotspot for these kinds of partnerships, with InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort protecting and preserving the local lagoon through collaboration with the Manta Trust and Maldivian Manta Ray Project, Four Seasons Resorts collaborating with Reefscapers to restore coral reefs around two islands, and Six Senses Laamu leading the Maldives Underwater Initiative, involving the Manta Trust, Olive Ridley Project and Blue Marine Foundation. The Rhodes Co-Lab is a particularly ambitious effort, involving a collaboration between TUI Group, the local travel industry and the Municipality of Rhodes local government. (These case studies and many more are included in the forthcoming Nature Positive Future for Travel & Tourism report.)

Finding your community

There are more and more ways to ensure a strong connection with communities in your destinations. Our partners at Tourism Cares recently launched an online Meaningful Travel Map which shows the location of responsible and community-connected tourism suppliers around the world. And just this month the Wildlife Heritage Areas initiative announced its first sites, where local people who recognise their natural heritage with a deep sense of pride welcome tourism that benefits nature and their community.

Making it work for you…

So, now you can see the benefits of working with a local partner, how do you go about finding one? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Our Animal Protection Network provides a list of approved animal and nature protection partners in destinations around the world. And if none of these is right for you, our Biodiversity Partnerships service can find local organisations that meet your needs. Just send us a message or book a call to find out more, and we can help your business become a Guardian of Nature.

Biodiversity protections throughout the supply chain

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!

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

Go Nature Positive with Biodiversity Partnerships

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.”

Jumping in…

Helen Usher, Director ANIMONDIAL

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.

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

So… Where do we start? 

Baby green sea turtles in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

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

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