What’s SDG17 got to do with it?

Ants working together

Yes, that is indeed an ode to Tina Turner, who was certainly no stranger to powerful collaboration, which takes me nicely into the subject of this blog… and what indeed SDG17 has got to do with it.

“The SDGs can only be realised with strong global partnerships and cooperation. A successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships – at the global, regional, national and local levels – built upon principles and values, and upon a shared vision and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre”.  – United Nations, in reference to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’

This particular SDG is often the most overlooked, but can be considered one of the most important. Partnerships for the Goals refers to the recommendation for cross-sector and cross-country collaboration to achieve all the global goals, from 1 -16, by the year 2030. Importantly, it recognises that these cannot be achieved in isolation. It is a call for countries to align policies, and adopt a shared vision for a collaborative way forward.

So, what does this mean for animal and nature protection in Travel & Tourism?

Our industry is arguably the best placed to prioritise cross-country collaboration to better protect and restore nature. But we can also learn from other sectors, particularly those that also have a recognised impact on nature. Reporting on biodiversity protection for Net Zero is becoming more commonplace in the corporate world, across a variety of industries. According to the IUCN, the business sectors with a significant impact on nature include large ‘footprint’ industries such as mining, oil and gas; biodiversity-dependent industries including fishing, agriculture and forestry; and, financial services and “green” enterprises such as organic farming, renewable energy and tourism.

But, how do they tackle achieving their goals and demonstrating their actions? Often through collaboration. This shared mission is an opportunity to unite, and demonstrate individual and collective integrity and leadership. For businesses with limited resources, it is also an opportunity to fill gaps in knowledge or services by forming complementary and empowering partnerships. For larger companies it could be an opportunity to lead the way and guide others along the path. Collaborations can also support the delivery and achievement of identified objectives and KPIs and provide reliable evidence in annual reports.

TOP TIPS for Nature Positive Collaboration in Travel & Tourism

Whilst operations are grounded, this is a rare opportunity to review them – to return more effective and make the protection of animals and nature an integral component of our tourism agenda. Here are some ideas:

  • Identify partners with a shared vision and shared goals to tackle the same challenges.
    Identify partners of best fit – consider what parts of the jigsaw you are missing, and who can provide them.
  • Stakeholder mapping can be beneficial to help Identify others with shared purpose and whose objectives align.
  • Set partnerships as a key tactic to achieve your sustainability strategy, and include their identification and formation within your goal-setting, signed off at CEO level.
  • Understand the value of other stakeholders as part of your supply chain to achieve the goals- they are not passive contributors, but pro-active ones, that can do much of the heavy lifting that you can’t, and facilitate the actions you may not be equipped to.
  • Ensure that partners are aligned with your goals and demonstrate integrity in the shared commitment. Add a policy to that effect within your partnership contracts.
  • See NGOs as instrumental to supporting the delivery of business actions on the ground, and adding value and meaning to your brand and its products. The knowledge and expertise of in-destination communities (and NGOs) should not be underestimated. They can deliver monitoring and reporting on community-based conservation actions, Partnerships should be strategic, and aligned to commitment goals, providing inspiring case studies to educate and inspire.

Who could you partner with?

Partners could include travel business peers, travel trade associations, local, national or international NGOs, government bodies, or destination authorities. They can also include suppliers from alternative industries that have touch-points with your business and its sustainability commitment. These could include food and beverage providers, providers of furnishings and transport, or example.

Where to start?

This June, we will be celebrating the release of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ANIMONDIAL Nature Positive paper – a perfect example of a collaboration of shared purpose to support the sector in the delivery of animal and nature protection across global destinations. The paper includes numerous case studies and examples of how other industries, and other peers in Travel & Tourism, are working together to tackle the same challenges and achieve our collective goals. It is our hope that the paper equips our sector with the essential information needed to both integrate biodiversity protection actions within the sustainability agenda, and support collaborative efforts.

ANIMONDIAL, with WTTC have gathered the views of all pieces of the jigsaw to ensure the content is as relevant and useful as possible. Over 200 stakeholders including Travel & Tourism businesses, biodiversity experts, scientists, NGOs, Travel Trade Associations and policy-makers have been consulted. The paper acts as a megaphone for an important message to inspire collective action for the protection and restoration of nature.

Without achieving the fundamental Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Life on Land’, ‘Life under Water’, ‘Clean Water’ and ‘Climate Action’, and applying ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, we simply have no chance of achieving the remaining 12 goals. As of course without a healthy planet, and a collaborative effort to better protect it, none of the others, and indeed any of us, will stand a chance.

However, even with all the bad news, the good still remains. It is not too late to restore nature and reduce climate change. Through working together, RIGHT NOW, we still have a fighting chance!

» Register for our e-news today to be one of the first to access the Nature Positive paper next month!

Helen Usher, Director ANIMONDIAL

Nature is everyone’s business

Credit: Convention on Biological Diversity

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

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

Nature4NetZero – Keep it simple

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

The race to Net Zero explained

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL

The ‘Make-or-Break Decade’ to Protect Nature

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


REFERENCES

Daniel Turner, Director ANIMONDIAL