A group of tourism enterprises, media and individuals came together on 14th January 2020 to sign Tourism Declares – a collaborative acknowledgement of the climate emergency and the need for science-based climate action in the tourism industry.
As part of this declaration, I’ve made the following five commitments:
- Develop a ‘Climate Action Plan’
- Share my commitment and progress publicly
- Cut my carbon emissions based on IPCC advice
- Work with others in the tourism industry
- Advocate for change in the tourism industry
What does this mean for me?
As someone whose life choices have been deeply impacted by immersive experiences on the road, I’ve long believed in the transformational power of travel. Having witnessed it firsthand, I strongly believe that tourism, if done right, can be a powerful tool for sustainable development, environmental conservation and meaningful cultural exchange.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the negative externalities of the tourism industry – especially its design for mass tourism, exploitation of common pool resources, reliance on carbon-intensive flying, and profit-centric business models that are not inclusive of the people and the planet.
As a traveller and travel writer, I’ve spent the past decade seeking out and writing about community-oriented tourism experiences, eco-luxury and conservation-focused homestays and lodges, and social enterprises that work at the intersection of travel and local livelihoods.
I’ve worked with travel enterprises across the Indian Himalayas to develop innovative ways to tackle the single-use plastic crisis, raise funds for a community-centric reforestation project, and build digital storytelling skills among rural communities whose voices are seldom heard.
I’m an ethical vegan, and my journey to seek local plant-based food wherever I go has led me to some surprising culinary traditions! In 2018, I pledged to reduce my flying footprint and embarked on some adventurous land journeys in Central and Southeast Asia.
My climate action plan
In the coming years, I hope to measure and reduce my environmental footprint, both professional and personal, by choosing to fly selectively, supporting reforestation and conservation projects, working with the tourism industry, and advocating for slow travel. As part of my climate action plan, I aim to:
Update my knowledge and skills to develop sustainable tourism solutions
I’m on the path to pursuing a course in environmental studies, with a focus on sustainable tourism. I hope to update my knowledge of sustainability science and solutions, as well as build tangible skills like performing a Life Cycle Assessment and measuring GHG emissions. My goal is to work with tourism businesses to measure and manage their impact using science-based frameworks.
Measure, reduce and offset my carbon emissions
Using tools like the LCA or WWF’s Footprint Calculator, I want to hold myself accountable for the carbon emissions of my travels. That means I will:
- Choose alternative means of transport over flying as much as possible
- Embrace slow travel to spend more time in one region
- Club travel assignments and speaking engagements to decrease the number of flights I take
- Prioritize working with community-based tourism organizations and sustainability-minded travel companies and accommodations
- Invest in verified reforestation, conservation and restoration projects to offset the carbon emissions I can’t avoid
- Promote the adventurous, immersive nature of flight-free and slow travel
Advocate for slow, meaningful, vegan and responsible travel
I’ll continue to use my blog, Instagram, social networks and freelance writing opportunities to:
- Create awareness about the transformative nature of meaningful travel
- Raise questions about food ethics and animal welfare
- Promote travel experiences that are owned, led by and benefit local communities
- Speak up about the inequitable impact of climate change on vulnerable communities
- Make the case for slow travel as a more immersive way to experience the world
Work with businesses, governments and non-profits to develop and implement innovative sustainable tourism strategies
As a sustainable tourism consultant, I hope to work with the tourism industry for greener policy-based and community-inspired solutions, as well as localized solutions for unique and fragile ecologies. Through my research and consulting work, I aspire to collaborate with tourism destinations on renewable energy projects, efficient management of common pool resources, green certifications and the equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism.
If you’re associated with the tourism industry in any capacity, I urge you to think of the future of our planet and its people. Head over to Tourism Declares to acknowledge a climate emergency and share your action plan.