“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~ Native American Proverb
Greetings from London.
The Important Work of the United Nations
These past few days marked the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City where all 193 Member States have equal representation to discuss together international issues including peace, security, and sustainable development. Many nations will be honoring the memory of the late Secretary-General Kofi Annan (who passed away just over a month ago) and his tireless efforts with the Millennium Development Goals initiatives, which were launched in 2000. He was an inspiring and dedicated leader who effectively guided the UN with his strong moral compass, during some of its most challenging times. Mr. Annan stated that the United Nations continues to be the “last best hope of humanity”.
Though I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, I have always personally admired him and his many accomplishments while leading the UN. In particular, his progress and contributions to providing equal access to both girls and boys to obtain an education, and his most admirable fight against HIV/AIDs and malaria.
While pilloried by many for its excess bureaucracy and lack of accomplishments, one has to admire and appreciate the UN in my view, as the alternatives without such a global body, focused on keeping peace and unity around the world is neither easy nor straightforward. Our company is an Associate Member of the UNWTO, the UN body involved in travel and tourism, and support it in various ways.
UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: Tourism a Positive Driver for Change
Our company, The Travel Corporation (TTC) and family of brands fully supports the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help eradicate extreme poverty, fight injustice & inequality and to work together to address climate change. The UN’s target is to achieve these goals by 2030. The SDGs we focus on are about helping ensure tourism is a positive driver for change, by providing sustainable solutions, since tourism provides 1 out of 10 jobs in the world.
Of the 17 SDGs, these are the ones our industry can and is working to help address and alleviate:
- Goal 1 – Eliminate poverty
- Goal 2 – Zero hunger
- Goal 3 – Good health and well-being
- Goal 4 – Good education
- Goal 5 – Gender Equality
- Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation
- Goal 8 – Decent work and economic growth
- Goal 10 – Reduced inequality
- Goal 13 – Climate action
- Goal 14 – Life Below Water
- Goal 15 – Life on land
- Goal 17 – Partnerships to achieve the goals
Any one of these SDGs can take many years to try and address, and it is questionable if we can eliminate poverty or hunger for example or ensure good health and well-being for all. However, our approach is to start where we are and do what we can to make a difference, small or large, every day, to help others, and to work towards alleviating some of the issues and challenges in each SDG. We all can make a difference, and we all need to start doing something, now.
World Tourism Day 2018
Every September 27th, World Tourism Day is celebrated across the globe to highlight the positive contributions of international sustainable development and responsible tourism. For 2018, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) marked this day with the focus on global innovation and digital transformation which encourages entrepreneurship, inclusive development, and effective resource management.
There are many days of celebration across the year now, and so it is sometimes hard to keep up with, or focus on, what today’s celebration is about. (Another favorite of mine is National Daughter Day on the fourth Sunday in September every year (the 25th this year) – if you missed it, the International Day of the Girl Child will be on the 11th October.) Being in the industry, we always work to make the most of this special day to celebrate the many wonderful, powerful benefits of tourism, which I have certainly espoused over time.
Making Travel Matter
This year on World Tourism Day, we focused on celebrating the past 10 years of making travel matter with our TreadRight Foundation, by releasing our new video, #MakeTravelMatter. We have supported more than 50 sustainable tourism projects worldwide to date, with the focus on helping to safeguard people, wildlife and the future of our planet, for generations to come.
We are very proud of the projects we have supported over the past ten years, both through TreadRight and with the volunteering days that our brilliant team contributes around the world. We have also been so moved and inspired by the amazing people we have met and worked with.
However, we also recognize there is so much to do, perhaps even more than when we started, and so many worthwhile charities and projects to support today. So, we are more energized and more committed than ever to help keep making a difference by continuing to support some of the remarkable people and projects out there, and hope you will join us in supporting some of them too.
One Tree Planted Update: Supporting Global Reforestation & Biodiversity
I mentioned in my June 2018 blog post about our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of implementing our TTC e-documents program created in partnership with One Tree Planted, a leading not-for-profit organization focused on global reforestation. For every TTC guest that opts to receive e-documents rather than printed travel materials and other plastic packages, One Tree Planted will plant a tree in a destination including northern California, Vietnam and Tanzania, for that traveler. California’s 2017 wildfire season burned more than 1.3 million acres. Also, twenty-five million Vietnamese people depend on forest products for their livelihood with the challenge of over-exploitation of the land which has endangered native animal and plant species. In Tanzania, their forests are declining rapidly, as millions of trees are cut annually for agriculture and firewood. We are pleased to confirm that due to this initiative, One Tree Planted will plant more than 200,000 trees this year on behalf of TTC and our valued guests. And this is just year one of this program.
World Clean Up Day: TTC Team Members Using Volunteer Hours
As part of our CSR initiatives, our TTC team members across the globe are given 2 volunteer days each year to give back to their local communities. For the recent World Clean Up Day 2018, our teams united with others in 158 countries to initiate civic action against waste. For example, our TTC Canada and TreadRight teams, in partnership with a national conservation program, Great Canadian Shore Line Cleanup gathered together to one of Toronto’s largest beaches, Ashbridges Bay Park, to clean up the surrounding areas.
I am so proud to work in an industry with colleagues who are so passionate and caring about giving back, to others in our local communities, and to people and communities in places where we work hard to bring international travelers to visit, learn, taste, smell, enjoy, share and experience other destinations, cultures, and people.
We are aware that, with a growing world population, scarce or limited resources and growing global issues, many of which are identified by the UN with their SDGs, there is much to be done, and that we cannot depend on nor wait for our governments to try and address them all. As global citizens on the only planet, we can inhabit today, we all can and need to do more, to help others, as well as to reduce, reuse and recycle, every day in our respective lives.
Thank you for reading this and hopefully joining us on our journey.
Sincerely and warmly,