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.
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
It really depends on who you speak to, whether CoP26 was judged a success. Yes, the Glasgow Climate Pact was signed by 197 countries in the final hours. And yes, there were some ground-breaking side agreements on coal, forests, cars, and finance. But there remains a huge gap between the pledged emission-reduction targets and those agreed in Paris in 2015.
Further, there remains a lack of commitment from high-income countries to subsidise the lower-income countries that are, for the most part, more affected by climate change. On a positive note, however, there is broad agreement that change is going in a positive direction, despite the gap that must be filled to limit global warming to 1.5°C
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018), the leading authority, states that exceeding a 1.5°C global temperature rise would be catastrophic for much of life on Earth. Some island nations believe that they will not survive the sea-level rise, let alone the increasingly destructive weather patterns.
What is certainly clear is that we can’t wait for our governments to step up and bridge the gap. CoP26 reports indicate that talk of net-zero is mostly just talk, with plans to offset emissions alarmingly light on detail (Economist, 2021). Climate change action has become a political football, with those willing to act only committing to distant targets. So, what can we do when our political leaders fail to take a strong lead?
Businesses must ultimately take charge, and I was encouraged learn that during CoP26 businesses were pushing ahead to focus minds and deliver actions. The ‘Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism’, the ‘Declaration on Forests and Land Use’, and the ‘Ocean for Climate Declaration’ are all intended to bridge the gap between good intentions and meaningful climate action; tangible actions that finally and firmly put biodiversity on the climate agenda.
As countries and businesses – and even individuals – consider their actions to achieve net zero, few consider the relevance of natural systems. It’s ironic, when these can present a host of sustainable, low-cost solutions to many of our challenges: including harnessing the capability of many ecosystems to absorb and store carbon. You may have heard the recently-coined term “nature-based solutions”, referring to the protection and restoration of natural habitats and wild areas as a way to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. Regular readers of ANIMONDIAL’s blogs will have already seen examples of the evidenced benefits of forests, oceans, and their biodiversity. Nature is an essential part of the effective and efficient response to climate change, and also to avoiding future pandemics and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It is my firm belief that bridging the gap between emission reduction and carbon capture need not be a difficult and complex task. Effective actions to enhance biodiversity and restore nature will narrow that gap. Yes, it would help if our governments would regulate business to measure its impact on nature, and to demonstrate reduced negative impact, as proposed by Target 15 of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. But why wait until this becomes law? We know what has to be done. Businesses, in fact anyone, can play their part in minimising negative impacts and boosting biodiversity.
What can you do?
ANIMONDIAL’s recommended path to minimising negative impacts, bridging the gap, and achieving Net Zero:
- Evaluate your business operations and activities against validated, inter-related indicators to measure your impacts and dependencies on nature. Discover your ANIMAL FOOTPRINT here.
- Identify where your business is doing well and, where you can do better for animals and nature.
- Calculate your carbon emissions across your operations: transport, goods, food & beverage, services, etc.
- Commit to meaningful, time-bound, evidence-based targets across priority locations to halt and reverse the loss of nature and achieve Net Zero.
- Minimise your negative impacts on nature by reducing activities that drive biodiversity loss.
- Decarbonise your business operations and activities across your supply chain. Shift to alternative materials and actions to reduce carbon emissions.
- Regenerate and restore ecosystems in partnership with others, applying nature-positive action across your value chain.
- Invest in nature-based, community-led solutions that support local people who live alongside natural areas, and encourage nature guardianship.
- Encourage governments and policymakers to adopt and implement ambitious nature and climate policies
ANIMONDIAL will continue to work with our travel and tourism partners to support and advise businesses to better manage their impacts on nature and boost biodiversity through community-based, nature-positive solutions.
» Work with us to make the world a better place
REPORTS FROM CoP16
- Launch of the Glasgow Declaration: A commitment to a decade of climate action in tourism | UNWTO
- Nature in the spotlight at UN Climate Conference COP26 | Business for Nature
- Was COP26 in Glasgow a success? | The Economist
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.
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
» Join our mission to Build Back Better for Animals
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
- First draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework | CBD.int
- EU’s green deal plans launched with ‘make-or-break decade’ warning | European Commission | The Guardian
The future of tourism is heavily reliant on nature – from the reported 21.9 million jobs involved in Wildlife Tourism (WTTC, 2019), to the sector’s dependence on ecosystems services, to what nature uniquely brings to destinations across the world.
Nature is integral to our prosperity and wellbeing, it supports human development and equality, our resilience to viral pandemics and climate change, as well as its support of millions of other species. The World Economic Forum estimates Nature’s economic value generation at US$44 trillion – half of the world’s total GDP.
It is somewhat ironic then, that little has been done to curb humanity’s unsustainable consumption of the natural world. Our collective ecological footprint now far exceeds Earth’s rate of regeneration (Nature, 2021). Human activity has already altered over 70% of Earth’s land surface (IPBES, 2019) and more than two-thirds of the oceans (Halpern et al., 2015), with our indirect impact damaging much of what remains. This cumulative activity has resulted in the loss of natural habitat and biodiversity, with an on average, 68% decline in the abundance of monitored mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish (WWF Living Planet Report, 2020), and 1 in 5 recorded animals and plants – c. 37,000 species – now facing extinction (IUCN, 2021).
Let’s put this in context, we are slowly destroying the fabric of life that we all rely on for survival.
Consider rainforests for example, these are the oldest ecosystems on Earth, with some surviving in their present form for over 70 million years. The most famous rainforests are found around the Equator, like the Amazon, but there are also cooler, temperate rainforests, largely found in Northern America and Europe. Rainforests only cover 6% of Earth’s land area but are known to support over 50% of the planet’s biodiversity – one of the most biologically important natural habitats on Earth.
In addition to the astonishing natural heritage, rainforests are considered the ‘lungs of the world’, producing about 20% of our oxygen and act as a store of approximately 50% of all the carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) produced by humans. They absorb solar radiation, limit the Earth’s reflectivity, maintain the Earth’s fresh water supply, and stabilise climatic conditions. Vital allies in our struggle to combat climate change.
Rainforests are biodiverse and vital to planetary health, but also essential for combating climate change.
The problem is that world’s rainforests are disappearing. Reportedly 100 acres (40 hectares) of rainforest is cleared every minute for agricultural and industrial development. In the Pacific Northwest of America, logging companies cut down trees for timber and paper, in the Amazon, wildfires, believed to be lit by farmers and cattle ranchers, ravaged 2.24 million acres of forest in 2019, whilst in the Congo, roads sliced up the forests, destabilising the ecosystem. The latest research indicates that due to the deforestation, wildfires, and rises in climatic temperature, large expanses of rainforest could become arid savannahs – losing all those healthy benefits.
I was lucky enough to have lived in the subtropical Peruvian Amazon some 22 years ago. I lived and worked at Explorer’s Inn, a tourist lodge, once a renowned tropical ecology field station. Where I predominantly worked as a tour guide, but also helped document the abundance of species. This area has amazing biological diversity, with more than 1,200 recorded species of butterflies, 632 listed bird species, 103 amphibian species, 180 species of fish, 169 species of mammals and 103 reptile species – an astonishing roll call. Imagine how devastated I was when I returned 20 years later to find a lot of the forest gone, and converted for farming. Of course, I would always support the need for people to earn a living and support their families, but at the cost of a habitat that is so vitally important to the planet and the survival humanity? There must be another option.
At ANIMONDIAL, the specialist animal tourism consultancy, we have a firm belief that tourism holds the solution to many of these problems. Managed well, tourism can be a force for good – bringing much needed revenue and investment to natural habitats in such destinations. Influencing and encouraging national governments, businesses, and local communities to place greater value on safeguarding their natural heritage than converting natural environments into agricultural or industrial use. A strategy that is likely to supporting many more local livelihoods, whilst also protecting such vital habitats from harm.
To help guide and advise travel and tourism businesses to minimise their negative impact on animals and nature, and help them optimise biodiversity protection, ANIMONDIAL has developed a series of new consultancy services packages. These can be customised to any need, type or size of travel business, and can catering for those businesses that have yet to include any animal protection safeguards into their operations, as well as those that have started the journey.
Managed well, minimising negative impact wherever possible, tourism can be the force for good – protecting and regenerating Earth’s natural habitats and ecosystems.
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On International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May), we are reminded that ‘we’re part of the solution’ #ForNature, where tourism can be a force for good.
From the air that we breathe, the water we drink, to the food that we eat, we all rely on biodiversity. It refers to the variety of life on Earth – beginning with the genes that define the millions of different species of plant and animal, and their communities, within a wider fabric of interconnecting relationships in a physical environment, which we commonly called ‘Nature’. As with all other animals, humanity is part of it, reliant upon it, and due to our global dominance, we are its problem, as well as its solution.
The travel and tourism sector already know the importance of nature and what it uniquely brings to many travel destinations across the world. Nature is integral to our prosperity and wellbeing, but it also supports human development and equality, our resilience to viral pandemics and climate change1, and supports the lives of millions of other species. In fact, The World Economic Forum estimates Nature’s economic value generation at US$44 trillion2 – over half of the world’s total GDP!
Ironically, it is the improved global economic growth, the rise in living standards and increased demand for natural resources over the last 50 years that has directly driven biodiversity loss3:
- Land-use change – the conversion of land cover (e.g. deforestation), a change in eco-system management (e.g. intensive farming), or changes to landscape configuration (e.g. fragmentation);
- Over-exploitation of natural resource – overfishing, hunting, and logging, including the harvesting of species for traditional medicine and the pet trade;
- Climate Change – global warming changing climate and weather patterns that then impacts on ecosystems;
- Pollution – nitrogen deposition through fossil fuels and fertiliser causing ecological changes;
- Invasive species – introduced species displacing native wildlife and disrupting natural ecosystems.
Poorly managed, and tourism contributes to all five of these direct drivers of biodiversity-loss. However, when better managed: seeking to minimise negative impact, and maximising the value given to nature and its biodiversity, tourism can ultimately be a force for good.
In fact, there is an opportunity for the travel and tourism sector to do much more than just count and reduce carbon output, there is an opportunity to better protect animals and regenerate the natural systems that naturally absorb carbon and bring back stability to life on Earth.
ANIMONDIAL, the specialist consultancy, supports the travel and tourism businesses to better protect animals and nature. Its impartial guidance and community-led conservation projects offer a means for the tourism sector to review and improve their activities and embrace the “silver bullet”4 to lessen biodiversity-loss and climate change, and save ourselves.
This “Endangered Species Day” (21 May), as we stop for a moment to consider the fact that more than 37,000 species are now threatened with extinction5– there is no more pressing a time to do what we can to better protect animals and nature.
What can I do to better manage my impact on animals and nature?
Reduce your company’s negative impact on nature
- Adopt animal welfare and protection principles, advocated by ANIMONDIAL, and offer only responsible tourism activities with animals and respectful wildlife viewing practices that uphold good welfare standards. Receive a bespoke service from ANIMONDIAL.
- Evaluate, or audit, all your tourism activities / experiences that involve animals to identify and measure risk, end inappropriate activity, and seek to improved standards in animal welfare.
- Discourage your suppliers from sourcing animals from the wild; unless there is a demonstrable and justifiable conservation need. If in doubt, contact the national CITES Management Authority6.
- De-list tourism activities / experiences that involve the hunting of wild-born or captive-bred animals for the purposes of sport, trophy, or entertainment.
- Request that your suppliers do not commercially trade, breed or exploit their animals (this includes zoos, aquaria, animal sanctuaries, rescue centres and orphanages7).
- Product procurement teams and Destination Management Companies should inform all suppliers to ensure they do not sell or promote the sale of any of these unsustainable wildlife products. Refer to the European Commission’s Wildlife Souvenir’s Guidevii and use tools to identify threatened species8,9.
- Ask your customers not to pick up, collect or buy animals or parts of animals (including corals, sponges, shells, etc.) or plants (including orchids, seeds, seedlings, etc.) from the wild. Use online tools to identify the conservation status of the species involvedi, vii, viii.
- Ask your airline partners not to transport live animals, trophies or products derived from animal or plant species that are listed under CITES Appendix I or classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
Maximise your protection and restoration of nature
Select one of ANIMONDIAL’s trusted, community-based animal protection initiatives through its Animal Protection Network10. Such as Ape Action Africa, that protects gorillas and chimpanzees, supporting local livelihoods, and protecting primary forest. The following video features Alex Benitez, Sanctuary Manager at Ape Action Africa, Cameroon, and provides an introduction to the organisation.
Collaborate with others to make a difference
- Sign up to ANIMONDIAL’s Build Back Better for Animals initiative and receive a 30-minute FREE consultation and discounted services.
Changing our relationship with nature is too great an issue to be left to the scientists and policymakers. We must all take responsibility, end destructive activity, and strive to return what we have lost. Business (no matter the size) has a crucial role to play, by putting nature at the core of their activity and decision-making, assessing, mitigating, and managing animal and nature-related risk.
ANIMONDIAL is here to help you identify tangible actions that are right for your business. Contact us today.
- World Economic Forum (2020) COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery.
- World Economic Forum (2020) Global Risk Report
- Steffen, W. et al. (2015), “Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet”, Science, Vol. 347/6223, pp. 1259855-1259855
- Professor Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, ITB Berlin 2021
- IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM
- UNEP-WCMC & CITES Secretariat, providing information on C US Fish and Wildlife Service, CITES permits and certificates
- ANIMONDIAL (2019) Animal sanctuaries: more than just a name
- European Commission, The Wildlife Souvenirs Guide
- ANIMONDIAL (2020) Animal Protection Network