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
Businesses across all sectors are announcing their commitment to achieving Net Zero goals: Apple by 2030, Unilever by 2039 and Coca Cola by 2040, while Shell and British Airways do not expect to reach Net Zero until 2050.
But what does Net Zero mean? Why is it necessary? What actions need to be taken, and why are some targets so far off when a green business transformation is an immediate need?
The worry is that the talk of net-zero is mostly just talk, with plans to offset emissions alarmingly light on detail. (The Economist, after CoP26, 2021).
As you may have read in ANIMONDIAL’s November blog, CoP26 (the Climate Change Conference) concluded that urgent action is required to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change by limiting the average increase in global temperature to 1.5o Celsius. A failure to do so, particularly if average temperature rise exceeds 2o Celsius, will not only mean widespread negative impacts on human well-being and security, but is likely to cause severe damage to life on Earth.
Private-sector commitment to climate action is gaining momentum, and many travel and tourism businesses, including ANIMONDIAL, have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. This commits companies to halving emissions by 2030 and reaching Net Zero before 2050. According to UNWTO/ITF research, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from tourism grew by at least 60% from 2005 to 2016, with transport-related CO2 contributing 5% of global emissions in 2016. Unless the sector accelerates decarbonisation its CO2 emissions could rise 25% or more by 2030, and not fall, as required.
Reaching Net Zero is not ONLY reliant on limiting carbon emissions.
In 2021, the world’s leading climate and biodiversity experts acknowledged that climate change and biodiversity loss mutually reinforce each other and, being driven by the same human activities, can only be tackled together (IPCC & IPBES 2021). This acknowledges that there is no clear path to delivering climate mitigation and Net Zero without investing in nature.
Net Zero is achieved when there is a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. (UK Government).
Each year, the Earth’s surface soaks up billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. This includes absorbing (or sequestering) more than 50% of human-produced CO2 emissions through photosynthesis (the process of food production in plants) and storing carbon in plant tissue and soils. Oceans too absorb CO2, storing as much as a quarter of emissions from human activity each year. Therefore, nature, consisting of biodiversity and functioning ecosystems, offers a cost-effective solution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. In fact, more biodiverse habitats typically store more carbon and are more resilient to climate change.
A combination of ambitious nature conservation actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore ecosystems, together with ambitious reductions in CO2 emissions, is ESSENTIAL to deliver goals on climate mitigation, climate adaptation and biodiversity, and to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
As outlined in the UNWTO’s One Planet Vision, a green recovery that prioritises ecosystem wellbeing presents an opportunity for tourism to become a leader in transforming to a low-carbon future. By bringing greater value, and therefore protection, to animals and nature we can be an important part of the global solution.
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 providing Travel & Tourism partners with solutions to boost biodiversity, restore nature, and lessen climate change.
» Contact ANIMONDIAL to find out more and how you can get involved