Posts Tagged ‘Conservation International’

How Do We Ensure Sustainable Tourism? TreadRight

1430843_75984981The TreadRight Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to guaranteeing the health of the environment and that the communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. More than $2.5 million has been donated to sustainable tourism projects and partners like WWFConservation International, and The National Trust. The projects they support must meet key criteria:

*Conservation and protection of the environment, wildlife, and cultural heritage sites

*Relief of poverty and the improvement of the conditions of life in socially and economically disadvantaged communities through community involvement in sustainable tourism initiatives

*Promotion of sustainable tourism as a means to achieve economic growth and regeneration

There are four themes in which projects are pursued: Biodiversity, Community, Leadership, and Water. This organization, a joint venture with The Travel Corporation brands, sets the bar high for other travel and hospitality companies to step up their game. A recent new venture is support of the National Geographic Travel World Legacy Awards.

The foundation website even includes a great graphic and 25 tips for traveling responsibly–food for thought from some folks doing it right.



Great Book: Endangered

babybonoSo last Friday I finished a book I pretty much raced through (not my usual reading style, as I rarely give myself permission for pleasure reading). This, however, started as a bookstore purchase I’d figured was research for a novel I am beginning…I’ve been reading lots of YA fiction (YA=Young Adult) to immerse myself, and am rarely lucky enough to be truly transported, as I felt with Endangered by Eliot Schrefer. The teen protagonist, Sophie, visits her mother at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo just prior to war arriving and shattering the peace in the region. Sophie ends up alone in the wild, with one, then variously other bonobos depending on her for survival almost as much as she depends on them. It is a great story, and the conservation/bonobo behavior/harrowing setting make it a super-fast read. I loved finding out more about the author on his webpage ( and how he really ended up jumping into telling this story because of time he spent at a volunteer conservation project.

People of every stripe and focus come home changed forever from volunteer vacations and service travel–and very often become terrific spokespeople for the issues and difficulties faced by the communities they served. Foundations and charities are formed, campaigns waged, funds raised, lives saved, books written, long after volunteers return home and unpack their bags. It is how this work spins the world at a little better velocity, keeping it from wobbling on its axis, as it surely would if we never reached out to one another. Get activated. Get this book. Find out more about the plight and conservation of  bonobos via the organizations Eliot Schrefer recommends after he jumped into the issue (links below):

African Wildlife Foundation focuses on general conservation, conserving wildlife, protecting land, and empowering people.

World Wildlife Fund is the world’s leading independent conservation body.

Conservation International works worldwide to sustain biodiversity and a sustainable planet for all species.

Specific focus on bonobos:

Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) is based in both Washington D.C. and the Deomcratice Republic of Congo, dedicated to protecting bonobos, their rainforest habitat, and empowering local communities in the Congo Basin. Volunteer opportunities available.

Terese and John Hart work with local Congolese teams for exploration, conservation, and discovery with in-depth field study of bonobo populations in the DR Congo.

Friends of Bonobos supports the world’s only bonobo sanctuary and first bonobo release in Congo. You should adopt a bonobo!



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: 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?!

The Buck Stops…Everywhere

starbucksI know, I know…some of us think the coffee giant is an evil empire. I was a coffee house snob for ages, choosing to only patronize places with big stained couches and mismatched ceramic mugs and pastries that came out of a kitchen instead of a box…but such places are harder to come by these days, and the local Starbies crew knows me well enough to start my drink before I even get to the register.

You have to admit–as giant corporations go, Starbucks does a pretty good job of keeping many priorities straight for customers, staff, and the communities in which they reside (almost every community–on every corner, right?)

Their outreach programs to support causes for the environment and global communities are really strong–like a good triple tall cappuccino–mmmmm.

For their “partners” (employees), they match the volunteer hours employees give to their own chosen charities with a donation of an additional $10 per volunteer hour. They also match employee donations to charitable causes.

The company has a foundation that has several arms of support: for youth—granting to programs that focus on arts and literacy for young people, as well as environmental education and civic action programs for kids. The Ethos Water program donates money for the bottled water they sell to clean water programs around the world. The “Red” cards you can buy, as well as other branded red products, send a portion of proceeds to AIDS education and prevention programs.

In the coffee-growing communities, Starbucks works to protect ecosystems, partnering with Conservation International and the African Wildlife Foundation to support the sensitive biodiversity regions where beans are grown. They also spearhead projects for social development in coffee-origin countries, particularly with Save the Children USA and rural communities in Guatemala, plus team projects to build schools, health clinics, and water systems. (Click on those links to find out more)

Their basic environmental focus is strong too–with the use of renewable wind energy being used or counter-purchased/offset for stores in the U.S. and Canada.

It doesn’t make that four dollar cup of Joe any easier on your wallet—but there are lots of huge corporations with whom we often do business (fast food joints, grocery chains, certain “Mart” stores–that are evil in their corporate responsibility practices–or lack thereof)—so its nice to not feel like you’re chipping away at our world, but may even be helping build it up as you caffeinate to get through the day. I’m kind of fond of the Starbucks Shared Planet frame of mind.