Explores how tourism players can mitigate their impacts and embrace opportunities, to transition to a nature positive world.
Creating a sustainability plan can be a daunting prospect. With so many ‘sustainability’ measures to consider, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. From ending poverty and single-use plastics, to managing energy consumption and animal interactions, or halting biodiversity loss and carbon emissions, the expectation on tourism businesses to understand and adopt measures to protect ‘people and planet’ can often result in gridlock.
How to BREAK the gridlock
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a good place to start, in that they provide clarity on the outputs required to minimise economic, social and environmental risk. However, with most resources displaying the SDGs in numerical order, there is a tendency to select individual Goals without considering their context or recognising the ‘trade-offs’ between them.
The Stockholm Resilience Institute, on the other hand, presents the SDGs as a tiered ‘wedding cake’ (see below). This helpfully illustrates how the economic goals are reliant on the fulfilment of the social goals, which are in turn dependent on the environmental, or biosphere goals (SDGs 6, 13, 14 & 15). This not only demonstrates our reliance on biodiversity and nature for our wellbeing and prosperity but highlights the reasons we must protect it.
One challenge of the SDGs is that they don’t help to define which targets are most relevant for your business and its operational impacts. All too often, we approach sustainability through generic, mainstream actions, rather than considering sector-specific impacts alongside our individual business’ sustainability strategy and which actions are most relevant to achieving it.
Sector-specific guidance provides a clearer understanding of where a business-type has the greatest impact. For instance, the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report provides an overall industry perspective, indicating how travel and tourism is both dependent on and impacts nature, together with more specific advice for each sector. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality advises hotels and hospitality businesses, specifically, how to mitigate their impacts on nature – from freshwater usage and food sourcing to GHG emissions and waste disposal.
The more your sustainability planning focuses on sector-specific and individual business operations, and quantifiable impact, the easier it will be to prioritise, and the more effective your actions will be.
ACT for Nature
What is clear from the SDG ‘wedding cake’ model is that businesses must prioritise identifying their dependencies and impacts on nature. Fundamentally, nature provides the resources on which tourism, and the communities tourism operates in, all rely, including our food, water, air, and energy. In fact, most of Hospitality’s goods and services rely on nature. Nature can also be harnessed to create solutions to the challenges set out in the SDGs such as preventing disease, reducing carbon emissions, or providing the ability to adapt to climate change – solutions that are positive for social, economic, governance and environmental outcomes. The threat of nature loss is therefore a threat to business, our economies and societies. Preserving and enhancing nature is, after all, one of the underlying principles of sustainability.
To address this, we need to think about which issues are most relevant to our operations and supply chain, and what actions are needed to address them. This should be the starting point for your sustainability strategy, it is the focus of the Alliance’s Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality, and it is exactly the starting point of Nature Positive Tourism.
EMBRACING Nature Positive Tourism
Nature conservation must be a priority for all businesses, no matter the sector. A Nature Positive approach ensures each business not only identifies and mitigates its specific negative impacts but seeks opportunities to restore and enhance biodiversity. While there will be common themes between businesses, such as reducing plastic use or avoiding deforestation, there will be differences in the range of identified impacts and their severity, and what “regenerative” solutions are available.
We now understand that it is not enough just to consider how we use natural resources; all business efforts must ensure an overall Net Positive impact by conserving and regenerating nature. This can be effectively delivered by understanding the nature around you, investing in nature conservation in your destinations, and seeking opportunities to support and inspire governments, business, and society to help transform humanity’s relationship with the natural world, to become a “Guardian of Nature”.
How to START your Nature Positive approach
- UNDERSTAND travel & tourism’s dependencies and impacts on nature
- ASSESS your business dependencies & impacts on biodiversity and nature
- DEFINE your sustainability plan
- REDUCE your negative impacts on nature and identify opportunities to RESTORE biodiversity
- MONITOR and REPORT on the effectiveness of your Nature Positive approach
- COLLABORATE through Nature Positive partnerships in your destinations and COMMUNICATE about the Nature Positive work you are doing!
Act for Nature
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) have established the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership to help transform the sector to meet its obligations under the UN Global Biodiversity Framework to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and to fulfil its potential as a Guardian of Nature. Find out more and join the initiative.
- Biodiversity Factsheet
- WTTC’s Nature Positive Travel & Tourism Report and Toolbox
- ANIMONDIAL’s NATOUR IMPACT Evaluation Tool to identify your impacts on nature
- Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality
This month’s blog is adapted from an interview with Helen by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the voice of the travel and tourism private sector globally. Their full article will soon be available on their website, as part of their ongoing Nature Positive Tourism campaign.
How do you walk the walk?
More and more companies in every sector are issuing statements about how eco-friendly they are – but are they really? A 2021 European Commission study found that nearly half of green claims made by businesses online were “exaggerated, false or deceptive”. More than a third used words like “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” without supporting evidence. It isn’t always easy to follow up on good intentions, so how can travel companies ensure that their environmental commitments are more than just words?
The calls came, and we answered
“It all started because we were receiving calls from a lot of travel businesses,” explains Helen. “They wanted to do the right thing, but they weren’t sure what guidance to follow”. It’s a familiar story – although businesses want to act, they often lack the tools to do so. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a huge, global company,” she says, “sustainability teams are usually only one or two people. Lack of budget or expertise can be an obstacle as well. It’s a problem. Until now, nature protection has been severely under-resourced.”
Taking the first step
Tackling this means finding the right partners, who might be non-profits, universities or biodiversity experts. “Businesses should identify trusted partners to work with,” recommends Helen, “whether it’s a small NGO in a travel destination or a consultant who can help with policy creation or impact assessments. Ultimately, as a travel company, you’re not expected to know everything about every species. So, partner with people who know the area, and perhaps have relevant projects that you can support.”
Find your perfect partner
ANIMONDIAL can help with this, through our Animal Protection Network. As well as a directory of existing members working on different issues around the world, we offer a bespoke service for businesses looking for their ideal match. “To identify the right partner, we start by assessing your business needs and looking at the company’s sustainability focus,” explains Helen. “Nature-related impacts still need to be identified and addressed first. Then we can look at the key issues and opportunities that arise from that to see what sort of partnership makes most sense.”
Partnership is a two-way street
The benefits of working like this go way beyond having a ‘pet project’ to support. “Historically, when people think about NGO partnerships, they see the non-profit as subordinate, grateful for their support,” Helen says. “They want the logo, but don’t always see the powerful opportunity of the partnership to educate the public or achieve strategic change. It’s actually very much a two-way street: NGO partners can be massively beneficial. They can help with biodiversity monitoring, designing sustainable systems or enriching the customer offer, as well as supporting ESG efforts through nature conservation.”
Deep and meaningful
The closer the partnership is, the more there is to gain – for both parties. It has taken a while, but this message is finally starting to sink in, according to Helen. “More companies recognise it now. They value partners who can talk about the science, and who can really be the experts. It’s powerful.”
Seizing the moment
ANIMONDIAL has been advocating for the protection of animals and nature through tourism since we were founded in 2018. Last year was a breakthrough. “Everything came together at COP15, in Montréal,” Helen explains. “It was the first time Travel & Tourism was properly represented at these meetings, and we were very proud to be a part of the delegation, headed by the World Travel and Tourism Council and sitting alongside our new Nature Positive Tourism partners – the UN World Tourism Organization and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.” The message was simple; as Helen puts it: “For years we’ve heard about the dire state our planet is in … this is our last chance to work together to make a difference.”
- To find out more about ANIMONDIAL’s Animal Protection Network and biodiversity partnership services you can book a free discovery call now!
- Find experience and accommodation suppliers that can help you connect with your destinations through the Tourism Cares Meaningful Travel Map
- Become part of the Nature Positive Tourism movement by signing up to the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism
- To learn how to put Nature Positive Tourism into practice in your business, see the WTTC Nature Positive Travel & Tourism report or consult the wide range of resources in the associated Nature Positive Toolkit.
On 22 May each year the world celebrates the importance of ‘Biological diversity’, and in 2023, the ask is to “Build Back Biodiversity”.
This is, of course, exactly what our global society has signed up to following the ratification of the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, with its 23-target plan to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
While most people recognise the urgency to halt biodiversity loss, until now there has been no comprehensive solution to understand and minimise YOUR IMPACT. For the travel and tourism industry, ANIMONDIAL’s new online tool is about to change that…
Why is biodiversity important?
‘Biodiversity’ refers to the range of all living things (including humans). Studies have revealed that it is in a downward spiral as Earth is experiencing its Sixth Mass Extinction – the fifth one having wiped out the dinosaurs over 60 million years ago. Five human-induced drivers have been identified as the main causes behind this: habitat conversion, over-harvesting, climate change, pollution, and introduction of non-native species. These all lead to biodiversity loss, which undermines the stability of the climate, the availability of fresh air, water and food, and protections against extreme weather patterns and viral emergence. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse now dominate global risk forecasting (Global Risks Report 2023).
Reducing nature-related risk
The only way to halt and reverse biodiversity loss is to first avoid or minimise any negative impacts. Solutions until now have focused on simple, one-approach-fits-all action, such as ending single-use plastics. However, this is only a small part of the solution, which must mitigate ALL negative impacts. While there are some generic actions that can be applied, the only comprehensive way to address this challenge is to take a bespoke approach – by assessing YOUR IMPACT on biodiversity.
This understanding is what led us to create NATOUR IMPACT – an online tool specifically for travel & tourism businesses to identify their impacts on biodiversity and nature. Travel & tourism very much relies on nature, not least for providing over 80% of its goods and services, but also in supplying or underlying much of the motivation for people to travel. Like most businesses, travel & tourism contributes to ALL drivers of biodiversity loss, but to varying degrees depending on the business. Even within tourism, different types of business can impact nature in different ways. So, a bespoke assessment of IMPACT makes good business sense.
What to expect
Natour Impact provides a thorough assessment of business performance across the interconnected issues of biodiversity protection, animal welfare, climate change, pollution, sustainability and social impact. It doesn’t work from estimated or explicit values – like emissions calculations do – but instead assesses the policies, procedures and actions of the individual business against relevant international standards, science-based targets and expert recommendations. It is also aligned with industry targets and guidelines such those of the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals and ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines. The evaluation delivers a report that provides each business with a detailed IMPACT assessment, highlighting areas of concern and priority actions to address them, as well as recommendations towards a full Nature Positive Tourism approach.
Fit for purpose
Registering your interest in a Natour Impact assessment is easy. There is a ‘no obligation’ opportunity to talk it through with members of our team, and you can trial our Natour Impact ‘taster’ that provides a snapshot of what to expect. Alternatively you can just contact us to receive more details on the tool itself and the assessment process. It is really that simple. If you are already sold, and keen to start your business IMPACT assessment, why not book your introductory call now?
There really is no better way to regularly monitor and assess your business’ impacts on biodiversity!
Book your Natour Impact introductory call
Trial our Natour Impact ‘taster’
Identify the Global Biodiversity Framework business obligations (particularly Targets 14, 15 & 16)
April 22nd is Earth Day. A day to celebrate the amazing place where we live. Home to 7.4 billion people and an estimated 8 million species. It is also a time to reflect on our relationship with Mother Earth, our reliance upon it, and our responsibility to better protect it.
This is, after all, where many of the negative impacts take place, where endangered species and fragile habitats are most threatened, and where the natural resources on which we all rely are in decline. Society really needs to look beyond its four walls and start to protect their very foundations – grounded in the natural world – sooner rather than later.
I have written a great deal about the importance of NATURE – the very fabric on which all life on Earth is based. The interaction between non-living natural materials, such as soil, water and stone, and all living things, from bacteria to blue whales. You will know that nature is essential to our prosperity and wellbeing, and its demise threatens our existence. In my previous blog, I explained the UN’s new biodiversity protection mandate and the particular obligation on global business to integrate biodiversity safeguards and assess their nature impact. Legal requirements that, as yet, few businesses are fully aware of, let alone preparing to comply with.
Consider your impacts and dependencies on nature
Progressive business is beginning to consider nature and, while some companies may just fund tree planting or donate to a conservation NGO, the smart organisation is thinking about its risks and impacts on nature. This includes both direct impacts, like land clearance for construction or agriculture, and indirect impacts through the value chain, from the sourcing and processing of raw materials to the use and disposal of finished products. All this needs to be properly understood before business risk, dependencies and impacts can be identified.
ANIMONDIAL can guide your business
This is where “Nature Positive Business” (the blog) and ANIMONDIAL’s wider work can help. Our expertise encompasses animal protection, nature conservation, sustainable development and social impact. We will ensure your business understands its legal obligations, your business’ relationship with nature, and its impacts, dependencies and risk-factors. Anticipating the task ahead, ANIMONDIAL and our partners have developed the services and tools that T&T businesses need. This includes an evaluation tool for individual companies to assess their impact on nature, a report and Nature Positive Tourism Roadmap with the World Travel & Tourism Council to guide strategy, and a toolkit of additional services to support implementation. Our goal: to support clients through the complexity of biodiversity protection so they can go beyond sustainability to deliver an overall Nature Positive outcome.
Understanding the nature around you is key
As part of our toolkit, ANIMONDIAL has partnered with NatureMetrics, to bring world leading, measurable nature intelligence to the travel & tourism industry. They use cutting-edge technology to generate biodiversity data at scale from environmental DNA (eDNA) – the traces of DNA that all animals leave behind on the ground, in water and even in the air. This provides valuable insight into the wildlife and biodiversity in a given location and enables ongoing monitoring at a fraction of the cost of traditional techniques. The result is easy access to crucial data that underpins good decisions for business and nature. Our partnership not only introduces the benefits of eDNA monitoring to the Travel & Tourism industry, it also provides valuable guidance to help integrate its use into operational programmes that minimise harm and maximise benefits for nature.
Turning data into nature
Using the eDNA biodiversity data collected, businesses can see the current state of biodiversity in their destinations, even around their offices, enabling them to make practical plans to protect and enhance it through precise, measurable steps. Repeated surveys provide direct feedback on the effectiveness of these efforts, tracking performance and demonstrating concrete progress.
Tourism as a force for good
While the obligation to monitor, assess and mitigate impacts falls on all businesses irrespective of their sector, tourism businesses have an added advantage: the means to collected biodiversity data from multiple sites across the globe. This gives us the capability to help society better understand the Earth’s biodiversity health and the ongoing damage and recovery of nature, as well as the ability to monitor the outcomes of Nature Positive actions as they are applied. The eDNA data collected through Nature Metrics is automatically shared with eBioAtlas – a global, open-access database supporting biodiversity protection and restoration activities around the world, to which Travel & Tourism could become a key contributor.
“Every organisation needs to know where it stands, what impacts it currently has and how each of its future decisions can alter that impact in its journey to becoming nature positive.”
— Pippa Howard, Chief Nature Strategist, NatureMetrics
Joint services of NatureMetrics and ANIMONDIAL will help businesses monitor, assess and mitigate operational impact on nature and its biodiversity. All in one package!
Nature Positive Tourism
Working with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and partners, ANIMONDIAL will seek to integrate eDNA measurement and monitoring services into the Nature Positive Tourism approach. We want to provide tourism businesses with the tools to understand the nature around them (around their offices, in the destinations they visit and other sites) and the outcomes of their Nature Positive Tourism actions. Techniques like eDNA analysis are only one element of this, but as part of our broad and ever-expanding toolkit they can play a key role in our industry’s Nature Positive journey.
Adopting a Nature Positive approach goes beyond sustainable use. While sustainability makes clear business sense, it is the impact on the ground, amongst nature, that matters most.
This is, after all, where many of the negative impacts take place, where endangered species and fragile habitats are most threatened, and where the natural resources on which we all rely are in decline. Society really needs to look beyond its four walls and start to protect their very foundations – grounded in the natural world – sooner rather than later.
Everything, everywhere, all at once
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently called for “action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once”. Hardly surprising considering the alarming state of nature: global biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history (UN CBD), it is now considered the 4th most severe threat we face this decade (WEF, 2023), and levels of global heating, which is driving biodiversity loss, are close to “irreversible” levels (IPCC AR6, 2023).
A slow start
Despite this urgent need for action, only a small share of companies globally seems to have set targets or be applying actions to protect biodiversity or address habitat loss. A similar trend is observed in a recent survey of tourism businesses – of the few that said Nature Positive actions had been adopted, fewer still confirm action on the ground – where most of the damage is being done.
Bringing in business
The UN biodiversity agreement, passed in December 2022, now requires all businesses globally to protect and restore nature: specifically “to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity, increase positive impacts, [and] reduce biodiversity-related risks to business…”. In doing this, an understanding of “their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity” will be essential.
What nature does for us
All businesses depend on natural systems either directly or through their supply chains. Research by the World Economic Forum showed that $44 trillion of economic value generation – more than half the world’s total GDP – is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services. For Travel & Tourism, 80% of its goods and services depend on nature. … For us, it ensures our survival.
Who needs to think about nature…
Nature is essential for those businesses committed to reducing carbon emissions, global warming and achieving Net Zero goals. It is a vital consideration for businesses developing sustainable and resilient approaches towards activities they directly operate and indirectly influence. Nature Positive actions can also be valuable commercial investments and empowerment of local communities.
… And who is thinking about it
The finding by S&P Global that only about one-third of Europe’s biggest companies have set biodiversity targets, and even fewer among the largest companies in Asia-Pacific and the US, is certainly disheartening. It demonstrates the need for compelling incentives to enact or better enforce policies and actions to boost biodiversity.
Urgent action is needed to ensure businesses understand their obligations and have the tools to better protect and restore nature.
The Nature Positive Travel & Tourism Partnership
The recently launched tourism partnership between UN World Tourism Organisation, World Travel & Tourism Council and Sustainable Hospitality Alliance for a Nature Positive Tourism approach, highlights this industry’s commitment to nature protection and also its ability to contribute to positive change in global destinations influencing local and national policymaking and investment.
What we can do to help
My colleagues and I, at ANIMONDIAL, have had the pleasure of working with Travel & Tourism to guide the sector to not just mitigate biodiversity loss but to identify nature-related opportunities to boost biodiversity in destinations through private-public partnerships.
There is still a way to go, but a report has been produced, accompanied by a Toolbox of resources, while the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism invites businesses, large and small, to commit to a Nature Positive future – where we can travel in Harmony with Nature.
My hope is that other industries or business sectors will follow this lead and take a proactive role to better protect nature and its biodiversity across the world for the generations to come.
Keen to better protect biodiversity in nature?
Find out your business’ risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity with ANIMONDIAL’s Nature Positive evaluation tool
Measure the biodiversity in any location through eDNA analysis by Nature Metrics to benchmark your Nature Positive actions
Identify Biodiversity Partnerships in global destinations, working with businesses, NGOs and communities to better protect biodiversity and restore nature
Find out how your business sector faired in the S&P Global review of biodiversity-committed business
Finally, after years of negotiations and a tumultuous couple of weeks at CBD COP15, there is good news from Montreal – a new ‘Pact for Nature’ – and an opportunity for Travel & Tourism to establish itself as a ’Force of Good’.
The historic plan for nature was finalised in the early hours of this morning (19th December) to cheers from delegates and impassioned speeches by world leaders. It was presented as the “last chance” to put nature on a path to recovery. Having experienced the last week myself, with up-to-the-wire negotiations, the news of a positive outcome is a huge relief.
“Nature is our ship. We must ensure it stays afloat,” said EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius.
The Global Biodiversity Framework, the agreed plan for nature, sets out ambitious yet achievable plans to increase protected areas to 30% of the planet, safeguarding vital ecosystems from rainforests to wetlands, and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. It includes four goals and 23 targets ranging from the sustainable use of natural resources and the reduction of pollution to the restoration of destroyed habitats.
“It is truly a moment that will mark history as Paris did for climate,” hailed Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.
However, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are still experiencing the sharpest decline in biodiversity and habitat loss in human history. It is acknowledged that this new pact for nature cannot be delivered unless the whole of society is involved. In the last week of negotiations, businesses, in particular Travel & Tourism, were recognised as a key driver of positive change, with the ability to deliver short-term goals where government efforts often fail.
Last week I had the pleasure of working on behalf of the World Travel & Tourism Council, the voice of our industry’s private sector, and together with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA), to promote ’Nature Positive Tourism’. In a momentous announcement at COP15, these Travel & Tourism heavyweights acknowledged the importance of nature and the sector’s ability, as a global industry that operates at all levels of society, to become a ’Guardian of Nature’. They were united in their commitment to not only assist in the delivery of the Global Biodiversity Framework but, through the formation of a Nature Positive Tourism Alliance, to drive forward capacity-building action for businesses, the value chain, and global destinations.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Travel and nature are intrinsically linked. Wildlife tourism creates over $340BN USD each year and supports more than 21 million jobs around the world. Today’s collaboration between WTTC, UNWTO and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, spearheading the sector’s vision to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, shows our commitment to preserve the planet for future generations.”
Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director at UNWTO and Special Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said: “As part of the broad Alliance of stakeholders for ‘Nature Positive Travel & Tourism’, UNWTO shows its commitment to the Global Biodiversity Framework of COP15 – making tourism the Guardian of Nature. New governance and business models, enhanced capacity to monitor positive change and scaling up green jobs are all part of the solution as we move ahead together.”
Glenn Mandziuk, CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) said: “As an industry that relies on our natural world for everything from our buildings to attracting guests to outstanding locations across the globe, we recognise the immense importance of protecting our beautiful planet. Collaboration across sectors and across borders is essential to halt and reverse biodiversity loss… and make Nature Positive Tourism a reality.”
Dreams certainly became reality for ANIMONDIAL: not only by participating in a biodiversity COP but, off the back of our co-authored “Nature Positive Travel & Tourism” report with WTTC, by facilitating the establishment of the Nature Positive Tourism Alliance and gaining government support for the initiative.
Our efforts at COP15 efforts culminated in a statement to the High Level Segment of proceedings, when UNWTO said: “Together, the Alliance will support and inspire governments, business, and society to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework … help transform humanity’s relationship with the natural world, and through investment in global destinations, help support national biodiversity strategies and efforts to achieve the 30×30 Targets, and so allow these destinations to become true ’Guardians of Nature’.”
Actions will, of course, be more important than words, and the ability of the Nature Positive Tourism Alliance to deliver on the Global Biodiversity Framework will be the testament to its success. Work begins in January 2023 with the development of an implementation plan and by defining key outputs, but until then we can all celebrate that COP15 could not have had a better outcome for Travel & Tourism.
Global Biodiversity Framework main commitments:
- Integrate biodiversity safeguards into policies, regulations, spatial and urban planning, and development processes, poverty eradication strategies, and environmental assessments, across all sectors;
- Ensure that the use, harvesting and trade of wild species is sustainable, safe and legal, preventing overexploitation;
- Minimise the impact of climate change on biodiversity through Nature-based Solutions, reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity, and reduce the introduction and establishment of known or potential invasive species by 50%, by 2030;
- Encourage and enable businesses to regularly monitor, assess, and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity along with their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios, as a mechanism to progressively reduce negative impacts on biodiversity;
- Ensure that people are encouraged and enabled to make sustainable consumption choices;
- Ensure that all actions respect and protect the rights of, and customary sustainable use by, indigenous peoples and local communities.
On behalf of ANIMONDIAL, I’d like to wish you Seasons Greetings, and a Nature Positive 2023!
» Read the finalised Global Biodiversity Framework
» Demonstrate your business’ support by signing on to the Vision for Nature Positive Tourism Nature Positive Tourism
» Discover your business’ risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity. The online Nature Positive Evaluation Tool for Travel & Tourism, enabling your business to discover its impact on nature and take the necessary steps to protect & restore it.
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