Last week many acknowledged “World Environment Day” (5th June), when we were reminded of the importance of protecting nature. This is the fabric of interconnecting relationships and services that maintains life on Earth and unsurprisingly, we cannot do without it! As we reflect on the impacts of COVID-19, with many suggesting that this is Nature fighting back, the UN calls on us as global citizens to act #ForNature.
As members of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, we already know the importance of Nature and what it uniquely brings to many destinations across the world. Nature is integral to our prosperity and wellbeing, but it also supports human development and equality, our resilience to viral pandemics and climate change, and supports the lives of thousands of other species. In fact, The World Economic Forum estimates Nature’s economic value generation at US$44 trillion - that’s over half of the world’s total GDP! Yet, as highlighted in ANIMONDIAL’s May blog, “Save Nature; save ourselves,” biodiversity loss is rapidly causing its demise.
Encouragingly, there is growing interest and motivation to learn from our mistakes and build something better. Dr. Robert Gilman, the sustainability pioneer, has acknowledged that humanity is leaving its “Empire Era” and entering the “Planetary Era”, whereby “Change Agents” are “develop[ing] humane and sustainable cultures.” However, with a task so great it is often difficult to know where to start and what to do, or even whether our actions are doing enough.
I co-founded ANIMONDIAL, the responsible tourism consultancy, that provides a means for travel businesses to identify, measure, and better manage (or even to minimise) negative impact on animals and the natural environment. This is a service offered to ATTA members at a 20% discount. Two years on and we have worked with numerous tour operators, but such efforts must become mainstream if we are to make a meaningful difference.
I realise these are already challenging times for the travel and tourism sector but, perhaps there is no better time to take stock and review previous operations and to return more efficient and effective. ‘Sustainable / responsible tourism’ can no longer be regarded as an ‘aim to have’, but an integral component of all that we do. We need to give back more than we take away, and do all we can to encourage the wider, mainstream tourism industry to do the same. A multifaceted, strategic approach is required to optimise output, involving all departments within your business as well as stakeholders across the supply chain.
Anna Pollock, Founder of Conscious Traveller, has said regeneration of the travel industry, post-COVID, must begin in the community (in that domestic tourism is likely to return first). Efforts through tourism should ensure the care of people and the environment. I share this sentiment, and further believe that tourism can be, and has to be the conduit for reconnecting humanity with nature and its wildlife, as well as local people and their culture.
Fellow members of ATTA, post-COVID tourism must do what it can to act #ForNature. We must all take responsibility, end destructive activity, and strive to return and value what we have lost. Business (no matter the size) has a crucial role to play, by putting nature at the core of their activity and decision-making, assessing, mitigating, and managing animal and nature-related risk.
ANIMONDIAL is here to help ATTA members identify tangible actions right for your business. To help ANIMONDIAL help your business better protect threatened animal species and global biodiversity, we want to hear from you! Please complete this 2-minute survey and receive a FREE Animal Protection Health Check. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Further reading @https://animondial.com/blog:
Save Nature; Save ourselves, ANIMONDIAL (2020)
Consuming dog and cat meat: consider the implication for tourism, ANIMONDIAL (2020)
COVID-19: Time to review our interaction with animals, ANIMONDIAL (2020)
UNEP, Time for Nature https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/ (accessed 08/06/2020)
World Economic Forum (2020) COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery. www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid-19-nature-deforestation-recovery/ (accessed 08/06/2020)
World Economic Forum (2020) Global Risk Report www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2020
Gilman R., Context Institute https://www.context.org/about/ (accessed 08/06/2020)
Pollock A. & Wahl D. in conv, Conscious Travel – Can tourism be regenerative? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tME2zkFi8gY&feature=youtu.be (accessed 08/06/2020)