Life may be all about the journey, but travel & tourism is all about the destination. It is about being in a different place, breathing it in, and connecting with it. And that sense of connection is as vital to our efforts to protect and restore nature as it is to the experience of those who visit.
Discovering the Disconnect
Unfortunately, making that connection is not as easy as it first appears. In a recent consultation, conducted by ANIMONDIAL on behalf of the Nature Positive Tourism Partnership, the issue of ‘destination disconnect’ was raised several times. Even when business intentions are good, it seems there are difficulties translating this into real improvements for biodiversity on the ground.
Important insights from the Partnership
The consultation itself formed the basis of a new publication by the Partnership, led by the World Travel & Tourism Council, UNWTO and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (and co-authored by ANIMONDIAL). Titled ‘A Nature Positive Future for Travel & Tourism’, the report was soft-launched at the UNWTO General Assembly this month, with the full release expected before the end of the year. The consultation, involving 50 experts from business, government, academia and NGOs, underpins the guidance and recommendations, which are supported by a wealth of sector-specific case studies.
Connect to connect
One of the key messages is the need for partnerships of shared purpose. By combining the strengths of businesses, government agencies and civil society, and where relevant, local communities, even the most challenging of obstacles can be overcome. When it comes to connecting with the destination, collaborating with local organisations and communities is a powerful and efficient way to bridge the gap.
Partnering with local groups isn’t just a great way to support their work and achieve nature positive goals, it can also unlock real business benefits. Long-term collaborations can provide opportunities to enhance tourism products and improve local operations, as well being a great source of marketing and PR assets and ESG content. In addition, partnerships with local community groups or NGOs that work in destinations can provide a lifeline of reliable information and data to help businesses report on impact and keep track of what is happening on the ground. For example, through partnering with a local organisation in the depths of the Indonesian rainforest, a business could invest in their expertise to support species protection and biodiversity restoration, as well as to provide regular monitoring information for KPI tracking and ESG reporting.
Tried and tested
Working with local organisations isn’t a new or radical idea – several progressive companies are already doing it. Iberostar, for instance, works with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to promote sustainable fisheries practice in the Canary Islands, and also with the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies to study and protect seagrass meadows. Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel (through the Intrepid Foundation) supports the restoration and protection of coastal and wetland ecosystems in Victoria through the Blue Carbon Lab and, on one site, working with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. The Maldives is a hotspot for these kinds of partnerships, with InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort protecting and preserving the local lagoon through collaboration with the Manta Trust and Maldivian Manta Ray Project, Four Seasons Resorts collaborating with Reefscapers to restore coral reefs around two islands, and Six Senses Laamu leading the Maldives Underwater Initiative, involving the Manta Trust, Olive Ridley Project and Blue Marine Foundation. The Rhodes Co-Lab is a particularly ambitious effort, involving a collaboration between TUI Group, the local travel industry and the Municipality of Rhodes local government. (These case studies and many more are included in the forthcoming Nature Positive Future for Travel & Tourism report.)
Finding your community
There are more and more ways to ensure a strong connection with communities in your destinations. Our partners at Tourism Cares recently launched an online Meaningful Travel Map which shows the location of responsible and community-connected tourism suppliers around the world. And just this month the Wildlife Heritage Areas initiative announced its first sites, where local people who recognise their natural heritage with a deep sense of pride welcome tourism that benefits nature and their community.
Making it work for you…
So, now you can see the benefits of working with a local partner, how do you go about finding one? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Our Animal Protection Network provides a list of approved animal and nature protection partners in destinations around the world. And if none of these is right for you, our Biodiversity Partnerships service can find local organisations that meet your needs. Just send us a message or book a call to find out more, and we can help your business become a Guardian of Nature.
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