Sustainability & Adventure 2020
Each day in December 2019, we featured an aspect of sustainability and adventure we think will make an impression on the green agenda in 2020, shining a light on people, organisations and destinations that
we think will be the ones to watch...
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya - a model for how to use wildlife conservation as an engine for development; video produced by Greentraveller for the World Travel and Tourism Council
Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition
Voluntary initiative catalysing action on carbon pricing globally
Who is acting more ethically: the non-flyer who eats meat twice a week, or the vegan who flies long-haul to help raise funds for a community-based safari in Africa, or the ecotourist who drives with their scuba diving equipment to the Mediterranean for 10 weeks marine conservation volunteering? Attempting to do the right thing can be bewildering, especially when you're not comparing like with like: reducing carbon emissions versus poverty alleviation versus biodiversity conservation. Such intangibles could be dealt with if there was a price on carbon, whereby limiting atmospheric carbon emissions is already factored in to every type of transport. The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) is bringing together leaders from government, business, and academia to support carbon pricing, share experiences and enhance the implementation of carbon pricing. Its model shifts the social costs of climate change to the source of the pollution, encouraging polluters to reduce emissions and invest in clean energy and low-carbon growth. The CPLC is administered by the World Bank Group and has 83 strategic partners, including The Nature Conservancy, The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group, World Economic Forum and World Wildlife Fund. One to watch in 2020!
The Long Run
Association of nature-based tourism businesses committed to sustainability
One million animal and plant species are currently threatened with extinction. That's more than ever before in human history, according to a UN report published earlier this year. The Long Run is an association of private nature-based tourism businesses that is trying to stem (and ultimately reverse) this loss of biodiversity by working together "to define approaches and policy frameworks that drive conservation and community well-being in the long run". Its top tier members, such as Grootbos in South Africa and Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Pantanal, Brazil, have achieved The Long Run's Global Ecosphere Retreats (GER®) standard that is vetted by external assessors, such as NEPCon, which uses certification to positively impact land use, especially focused on forestry, agriculture and most recently tourism. The Long Run's growing network now has 40 members in 22 countries that help protect 5 million acres of nature and 'touch the lives' of 500,000 people. In 2020, it has ambitious plans to expand the network globally, ultimately to protect 20 million acres and touch the lives of 2 million people, by working with more nature-based businesses that excel across the '4Cs': Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce. thelongrun.org
Chief Exploration Officer, TYF Adventure
As concern about climate change grows, 2020 is likely to see a surge in organisations claiming their sustainable tourism credentials, yet it can often be hard to distinguish the green from the greenwash. Andy Middleton has certainly been committed to sustainability for decades; his outdoors adventure company based in St Davids, Pembrokeshire TYF Adventure was the founding UK member of B Corps - the respected certification scheme that vets companies for their social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Other members include Intrepid Group and most recently Sawdays - the first accommodation platform in the UK to have gained the status.
In the summer of 2020, TYF Adventure is hosting the UK’s first B Corp Summer Camp in St.Davids, bring together the change-makers running impact-based businesses and their families "for 10 days of purposeful fun and deep play on the Pembrokeshire coast". Adventures include coasteering, driftwood barbecues, midnight sea kayaking, coastline swimming, running, and yoga. tyf.com
Global Himalayan Expedition
Expeditions electrifying remote villages
Global Himalayan Expedition leverages tourism to provide remote mountain villages with solar electricity. It does this by using the money raised from adventure trekking trips in the Himalayas to help fund the installation of solar power microgrids in the villages enabling the residents to replace their old kerosene oil lamps with solar-powered LED lights, bringing both health and educational benefits while reducing the long-term release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Since it was founded in 2013 by Paras Loomba, it has organised treks for over 1,280 adventure travellers from over 60 countries, providing over 100 villages in the Himalayas with access to solar electricity - positively impacting 41,00 lives, including setting up locally run mountain homestays, establishing children's digital education centres, and training local women as telescope operators (for dark sky visitors) and as engineers (to date, they have electrified 27 of the villages with GHE).
In 2020, it is organising a series of 12-16 day 'Electrification Expeditions' in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, India and to Dolop, Nepal to simultaneously raise the awareness of climate change on the Himlayas while seeing first-hand some of the villages that are still 'living in darkness' who will benefit from the solar technology funded by each trip.
Photo: Pousada Trijunção
Pousada Trijunção, Cerrado Savanna
New lodge in the largest savanna region in South America
Not nearly as well known as the Amazon or the Pantanal, the wooded grasslands of Brazil's Cerrado Savanna cover 2 million square kilometres - equivalent to the size of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined. It's home to more than 850 species of birds, 251 mammals, 482 reptiles and amphibians and 1,200 fish as well as about 5% of all plant species of the world. Some of South America's most important rivers (Amazon, Paraná-Paraguai and São Francisco) begin in the Cerrado, but according to WWF, its native habitats and rich biodiversity are being destroyed faster than the neighbouring rainforest due to unsustainable agricultural activities, particularly soy production and cattle ranching, as well as the burning of vegetation for charcoal.
The newly opened Pousada Trijunção lodge - in the heart of 33,000 hectares of protected land within the savanna - is hoping to draw attention to this threatened region in 2020. As well as taking part in a range of adventure activities (such as alligator night-spotting by kayak), guests can visit its Maned Wolf project, which is being run in collaboration with the NGO Oncafari who have worked with jaguars at Caiman Ecological Reserve in Brazil’s Pantanal.
Mendip Hills AONB; Paul Miles/Greentraveller
A new future for AONBs and National Parks
2020 could see the biggest shakeup of the running of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) since they were founded 70 years ago. The 166-page Landscapes Review (written by Julian Glover, Associate Editor at Evening Standard) - an independent review published earlier this year - called for a new way to manage the 10 National Parks and 34 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England which were brought into being in 1949. The review called for the establishment of a new National Landscapes Service, which would act as a unified body for both National Parks and AONBs, creating a 1,000 strong ranger service to be the “friendly face” of national parks and help engage schools and communities.
The proposal builds on government commitments to protect and enhance the natural environment, which include a pledge to restore 75% of protected sites to favourable condition, invest £50 million to help plant new woodlands through the Woodland Carbon Guarantee, and create a vast Northern Forest – which will see 50 million trees planted from Liverpool to Hull over the next 25 years, as part of a drive to increase woodland spaces to fight climate change.
Connecting Cities to National Parks By Bus
As far as we know, Toronto-based Parkbus is the world’s first dedicated city-to-park transit system. Its core proposition is to take people by bus from inner cities (Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver) to the National and Provincial Parks of Canada (e.g. Algonquin, Killarney, Killbear, Grundy Lake and Rockwood), encouraging urbanites to experience the great outdoors, while reducing traffic pressure on Canada’s most popular wilderness destinations.
Since it started in 2010, it has taken over 100,000 passengers. It also provides two other key community transit services to the great outdoors: ActiveDays - for young adults - to try to build an outdoors community; and NatureLink, which supports new immigrants, helping them appreciate the Canadian outdoor experience; some 5,000 people per year benefit from these two services. In 2020, it will be running a new service from Ottawa to Gatineau Park - its first regular service from the nation's capital.
CEO Travel Foundation
Jeremy is the new boss of the Travel Foundation, the UK charity/NGO that works with tourism organisations to improve the impacts of tourism in destinations worldwide. Its latest work (published with Cornell University’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise and EplerWood International) focussed on Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism.
Given the likely increase in interest in sustainable tourism in 2020, the Travel Foundation is in a prime position to capitalise on its expertise in this field, and with Jeremy at the helm (he took up the post in September), we think 2020 could be a pivotal year for the organisation. He previously has led large-scale sustainable tourism initiatives for the International Union for Conservation of Nature Mediterranean Cooperation Centre and was Adjunct Professor at the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University School of Business.
Taking the train to the slopes
Over the last decade, we've seen Snowcarbon develop from a germ of an idea to a fully-fledged online resource for how to travel by train to European ski resorts in France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Its passionate co-founder Daniel Elkan says the idea of the site is "to slash the carbon footprint of ski trips and to make the journey part of the holiday". If you're unsure about the opportunities for travelling by train for a ski holiday, use its 'Ask Snowcarbon' service where the team will give you advice on train times as well as resort info.
For 2020, Daniel tells us he's excited about new overnight routes to Austria with Alpen Express and NightJet. There's also a campaigning edge to Snowcarbon and in 2020 it will be launching initiatives to encourage more rail options to the Alps, and for train companies and ticket websites to make it easier for skiers to book rail travel.
Host of UN's COP26 in 2020
All eyes will be on the Scottish city of Glasgow in November 2020 as it hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). The summit will bring together over 30,000 delegates from around the world, including climate experts, business leaders and politicians. It will be a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom to show the world how it is intends to honour its commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and it will also see the launch of a decade of delivery and action for The Global Goals. Today, the European Union launched its green deal to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Algarve Sun Boat, Richard Hammond
of Trains, Cars, Boats, and Bikes
Britain has made great progress in developing battery technology, catalysts and green ammonia, and there’s now a great opportunity for it to restore some international respect by becoming the decarbonising leader of the world. We think that 2020 will see a surge in the use of electric power technology not just in the transport sector but across the travel and tourism industry: this Sunday (15 December), Great Western Railway launches its long-awaited improved service between London and the west country and South Wales (with regular sub 2-hour journeys from London to Cardiff) operating on the new electric railway lines; electric cars are fast becoming a viable practical alternative, especially for short everyday journeys, and global sales of electric bikes are expected to accelerate to 130 million over the next three years, according to a new report by Deloitte.
Guyana Tourism Authority
You may have heard of Surama Eco-lodge, one of Guyana’s more established community-based eco-lodges that's the gateway to the Pakaraima Mountains and Burro Burro River, and is managed and operated solely by the Makushi, and there are now several more community-led lodges springing up in this fascinating South American country, which is embarking on a concerted effort to welcome international visitors in 2020. New lodges, such as Warapoka on the Waini River and the Amerindian village of Moraikobai, located about 99 miles up the Mahaicony River, are stimulating local employment, sometimes employing up to 80% of community residents on a rotation basis, stemming out-of-village migration in favour of work in logging or mining. For more info on grass-routes experiences in Guyana: www.guyanatourism.com
John E. Scanlon
Special Envoy to African Parks
Anyone who heard John's keynote address at the World Travel and Tourism Council's annual conference in Bangkok in 2017 couldn't fail to have been moved by his clarion call for global leaders to join the fight against illegal wildlife trade. The following year, over 100 travel and tourism companies signed up to the WTTC Buenos Aires Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade. John made that speech while he was Secretary-General of CITES - a position he held from 2010-2018.
A former Australian attorney, John is now the Special Envoy to African Parks, a non-profit NGO whose aim is to conserve wild landscapes in support of biodiversity and local communities, ensuring that each park is ecologically, socially and financially sustainable in the long-term; it currently manages 16 protected areas and national parks in Africa. Follow his work and the progress of African Parks at:
Photo: Honfleur harbour, Richard Hammond
New LNG-powered ferry
Brittany Ferries new ship, powered by LNG (liquified natural gas), is due to launch in Spring 2020. LNG is a more efficient combustion process than burning traditional fossil fuels, with around 25% fewer carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, emissions are sulphur-free and there is a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Named after the picturesque port on the Seine estuary, the 'Honfleur' will serve Brittany Ferries’ most popular route from Portsmouth to Caen. The ship isn't the first to be powered by LNG (ferry services powered by LNG already operate in the Baltic Sea), but it will be the first LNG vessel regularly operating across the English Channel. For more info on the ship's facilities and the rolling out of the technology leading up to the launch in March, see the 'Destination Honfleur' microsite: Brittany Ferries Honfleur
Much Better Adventures
Booking platform for small group adventure holidays
We've known the motivated team behind this ethical adventure travel company since its inception and like many successful start-ups it has reinvented itself a few times and has now settled on a successful formula for selling adventure holidays online. Sales more than doubled this year, while 5% of revenues (not profits) go in to conservation projects through both donations and campaigning. It says its "whole business model is designed so that the bigger we get, the more good things happen". In 2020 - as well as hoping to gain B Corporation status - it is launching an ambitious 'climate emergency' policy which will lay out its plan to become a 'carbon positive' travel operator.
Marsh Fritillary, Tim Martin
Marsh Fritillary, Tim Martin
Sustainable Food & Drink
An innovative new social enterprise that promotes sustainable food and drink from the UK's most wildlife friendly farms, with the aim of reversing the decline of threatened biodiversity. Its advisers visit farms, draw up biodiversity action plans, and support the transition to more sustainable pasture-fed farming methods. The farmers it works with manage their farms regeneratively, restoring soil health, increasing soil carbon, reducing pollution and making the land more resilient against droughts, flooding and other impacts of climate change. Its founder is former BBC Natural History Unit executive producer Tim Martin, and Simon Heppner (founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association) is a non-executive director. Launched in January 2019 in southwest England, it is due to roll out further afield in 2020. Follow it's progress at: farmwilder.org
TGV train in the South of France, RailEurope
Rail and Sail to the Med
Flight-free journeys from the UK
Concern over the carbon emissions of flights is likely to lead to an increase in people booking non-flying alternatives in 2020, especially from the UK to short haul destinations such as the Mediterranean. It's surprisingly easy to reach many Mediterranean islands by taking the train to the French, Spanish or Italian coasts and then catching a ferry across the sea, especially in summer when many operators put on faster vessels. You can get to Corsica, for instance, in less than three hours from Nice, and Ibiza can be reached in about five hours from Valencia. It's quicker to fly, of course, but the journey by train and ferry can be fascinating, relaxing and fun; the adventure becomes part of the holiday. To plan for a seamless rail and ferry journey from the UK, see: seat61.com.
Rail tickets: RailEurope or Trainline.
Professor of Sustainable Tourism
Professor at Griffith University in Australia, Susanne is the co-author
(with Amadeus) of a White Paper launched today at the UN Climate Change conference COP 25 in Madrid on airline initiatives to reduce climate impact
(how much is being done and what else needs to happen). She is a Vice Chancellor Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and is also as part of the New Zealand Government helping to move tourism towards low carbon and high value, and has won an Australian Government grant to encourage tourists to consume fewer resources. Follow her pioneering work on LinkedIn, including links to her recent papers, eg. Decarbonising tourism: Mission impossible?
England Coast Path
New National Walking Trail
The England Coast Path, which is due to open in 2020, will be the longest continual coastal walking route in the world. The 2,700 mile (4,500 kilometre)-long trail is being implemented by Natural England.
If you've been watching the BBC's latest natural history blockbuster Seven Worlds, One Planet, you'll have seen some of Bertie's incredible drone footage, including the aerial sequence of David Attenborough on a beach in Iceland that opened the series. In 2016, Bertie was awarded the BBC Natural History Unit camera bursary and for the past two years he has been filming for 6 of the 7 episodes in the highly acclaimed series, which each focusses on an aspect of sustainabilty, including climate change and biodiversity conservation. The 26-year old cameraman is now working on several other projects that we think will be worth following - see his latest work on his instagram feed @bertiegregory