In January 2020, we joined Tourism Declares Climate Emergency, declaring that we are in a climate crisis and the future of our industry depends on our urgent actions to address the crisis. At that point, we did not expect that the world was about to be hit by a pandemic that would turn everything upside down.
Despite the chaos and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, the Tourism Declares community made significant progress in 2020, and we are proud to be part of this important movement.
As we stated one year ago, “by focusing on what we do well - sharing knowledge and inspiring change - we aim to achieve significant results in helping make tourism more sustainable.” This was, and remains to be, the area where we expect to be able to achieve most meaningful impacts.
The following are the five key areas of our plan, and our reflections on how we actually performed against our goals under each area, and our aims for continuous improvement this year and beyond.
1. Investing in Skills: Knowledge Transfer
Through our online courses and training offers, we will invest in strengthening knowledge sharing opportunities focused on climate actions and practical solutions.
Our courses in 2020 featured:
In 2021, we aim to:
2. Collaboration and Partnerships
We will continue to collaborate with others in the industry who are actively contributing to tackling the climate crisis. In addition, we will aim to reach out to those who have not yet joined the Tourism Declares network, and to engage them in constructive discussions about taking serious climate actions.
Throughout 2020, we have:
In 2021, we aim to:
3. Commitment to Continuous Improvement
We will make our Climate Emergency Plan an integral part of our company by regularly monitoring and reporting on progress, challenges and lessons.
We were unable to make concrete progress in this area in 2020.
For us, the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 crisis meant that we were extraordinarily busy throughout the year, with an increased demand for online and socially-distanced training opportunities. As such, some of the other areas of our business was in a "hibernation" mode for most of the year.
While we are proud of the impacts we've achieved through our courses and thrilled to see continued and growing interest in learning about sustainability, we recognize the need for more effectively (and more often) sharing our experiences, examples and lessons learned, so that we can enhance our impact.
4. Walking the Talk: Operations and HR
Acknowledging that various aspects of our own business practices can and should be improved in order to become a more responsible company, we will start by focusing on one of the areas with the largest footprints, business travel, and by taking concrete steps to reduce the emissions related to our operations.
There was zero business travel in 2020, due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
While we are eagerly awaiting for a time when we will again be able to travel safely for in-person meetings and get-togethers, once we are able to resume traveling as part of our business activities, we will work on implementing steps such as:
In addition to transport-related emissions, another area where our business operations would have significant direct and indirect emissions is venues and meals for in-person training sessions (which we didn't have any in 2020). When we are able to safely resume in-person gatherings, we will continue to implement climate-consious steps in venue selection (working with venue providers that are actively working on reducing their climate footprint) and meal options (offering vegetarian / vegan menus as the default option, working with catering service providers that source locally as much as possible).
5. Spreading the Word, Inspiring Actions
We will help promote a cultural mindshift within the tourism industry to make the climate crisis a more urgent, prominent and prioritized theme. To do so, we will engage our broader community of members and supporters to promote greater awareness. And we will seek to amplify our voices and achieve more significant impacts by collaborating with others to advocate for positive change at the industry level.
One of our key goals - in all things we do - is to facilitate knowledge sharing opportunities. Tourism still has a long way to go before it can become a truly sustainable sector. On the other hand, however, there are so many existing resources, best practices, tools, and guidelines available to address so many of our industry's sustainability challenges. So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we believe in the power of facilitating opportunities for sharing, exchaging, and connecting the dots.
Our efforts for helping make tourism more climate positibe, therefore, will also focus on facilitating knowledge sharing opportunities - highlighting existing resources that will help others improve their practices, sharing lessons learned from best practice examples by industry practitioners, and supporting and promoting the development and dissemination of relevant and useful tools (such as the Tourism Declares Climate Action Blueprints).
In addition to Tourism Declares, we will continue to support the work of key industry organizations that are leading key sustainability discussions and solutions for our industry, including the Future of Tourism Coalition, the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Become Part of the Movement
Any company, organisation or individual working in tourism is welcome to join the Tourism Declares Climate Emergency network, and become part of the global community of 180+ (and counting!) who have declared a climate emergency. To join, your first steps are to declare a climate emergency and to share your commitment publicly. For more information on how to declare, please see here.