Posts Tagged ‘Conde Nast Traveler’

Earth Day

happy earth day

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a chance to take note of where we stand with the planet (worth doing every day, of course).

I’ve just returned from a conference with Condé Nast Traveler’s “World Savers” program, entitled “Doing the Right Thing Now.” It was a fantastic discussion about sustainability and corporate social responsibility with panelists from Goldman Sachs, Blue Hill and Stone Barn restaurants, and the InterContinental Barclay hotel. I found it inspiring to see different ways different sectors of the business world are taking up the gauntlet of environmental responsibility as well as what moderator Dinda Elliott (who blogs about responsible travel at: dotherightthing.truth.travel) sees as the next frontier (after the travel industry has done a pretty good job leading the charge on ecology): poverty alleviation and world health. It feels quite “right” to see that huge organizations, as well as the little guys and NGOs, see it as a responsibility, as well as good for the bottom line, to be answerable for our impact. I’ll be digesting much of what I learned for quite some time.

What are YOU doing for Earth Day? Don’t just let it pass as another Thursday–find a way to mark it for yourself, your family, your community (and that includes all of us as a global community–so thank you for what you will do…for me/us).

I had the good luck this morning to sit next to a woman who works with Conservation International, an NGO I can’t wait to learn much more about. From their website:

People depend on nature for many things. A stable climate. Clean air. Fresh water. Abundant food. Cultural resources. And the incalculable additional benefits the world’s biodiversity provides. Conservation International (CI) works to ensure a healthy and productive planet for us all.

Yet economic and infrastructure development, which are so necessary for human well-being, can also have serious impacts on nature. That is why CI is working at every level – from remote villages to the offices of presidents and premiers – to help move whole societies toward a smarter development path.

Through science, policy and field work, we’re applying smart solutions to protect the resources that we all depend on. We help communities, countries and societies protect tropical forests, lush grasslands, rivers, wetlands, abundant lakes and the sea. Only through properly valuing the essential services these ecosystems provide can we create a sustainable development path that will benefit all people for generations to come.

They have some outstanding international initiatives, and it is worth getting involved. Here is a link to ways you can help CI make a difference.

To get a jump start, tonight there is a Green Auction at Christie’s that will help raise funds for CI as well as three other great institutions. A Bid to Save the Earth will support Conservation International, Oceana, Central Park Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

You can bid in person or online tonight, as well as bid on silent auction items through May 6—everything from a round of golf with Bill Clinton or a day on the set with Hugh Jackman to a Lexus hybrid or lunch with Vera Wang.

Aside from bidding…reducing, reusing, and recycling…and finding new ways to change your habits of consumption and eco-responsibility…turn off this computer and GET OUTSIDE!!!, wouldya?!

World Savers

world-savers-awardMonday was the World Savers Congress in New York, at the very green and sunny Morgan Library. A few hundred folks from the travel industry gathered to acknowledge the hard work of travel trade companies that are guided by sustainability and have strong commitments to sustainability. These companies, large and small, as well as other philanthropic corporations, make changes (sometimes by making waves) in communities around the globe. From providing shoes (the über-hip Blake Mycoskie from Tom’s Shoes) to creating recycling programs where there were none to carbon-offsetting to changing out single-size shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotels to decrease waste.

There was a great array of represented companies from giants like Ritz-Carlton and Accor (with its eleventy-seven million hotel rooms worldwide) to hospitality companies with only 20 rooms in the African bush. A few keynote celebs presented: Wyclef Jean about how tourism can help Haiti (Yele Haiti), Mandy Moore on her work with Five & Alive, and Edward Norton who gave a bit of a dressing down about how the people in the room were committed to changing the world, but not enough, and certainly not enough to yet influence all of our readers/customers/clients to do the right thing for the global community.

A preview of Ken Burns’ new muti-part extravaganza on America’s National Parks (debuting this weekend on PBS) was shown, and, like all Burns project, was extraordinary. Talk about leaving no stone unturned…and his attention to detail (and facility with calling up every little detail when speaking to us) is a thing to behold.

There are panels and assemblies throughout the day such as “The Economics of Doing Good,” “The Bottom Line–Why Responsible Travel Matters,” and “The Ripple Effect: The Travel Industry’s Power to Ignite Change.”

It is good to learn about the increasing establishment of “CSR” officers and employees–tasked with Corporate Social Responsibility. Customers expect the travel industry to be invested in community and eco-health, and the companies are stepping up and being accountable. The title of this whole day has been “The Power of Travel in Challenging Times” and it is great to see so many of us taking that responsibility quite seriously. There was a great current thrumming, both spoken and unspoken, through us as we claimed the reality that the billions of dollars generated by tourism and the unequaled life experiences when people travel (and subsequently awaken a sense of stewardship for the places they visit) helps to instigate protection for environments and art, culture and success of local communities. It tips the scales, balancing out at least a portion of the poverty, pollution, conflict, and disease we sometimes find there.