A Mysterious Coral Disease known as “Síndrome Blanco” is Ravaging the Mesoamerican Reef. Here’s How You Can Help.
The islands of the Pacific are a popular destination for many travelers looking to trade in city life for secluded beaches, cultural authenticity and stunning natural environments. While the small size and remoteness of these destinations makes for ideal getaways, these characteristics also bring along many challenges. Visitors often put increased pressure on the already limited supply of agricultural products, water and energy. This results in a further dependence on imported goods and contributes to excess waste production. On top of these challenges, the transportation of imported goods drives up carbon emissions, exacerbating the climate change impacts to which small islands are particularly vulnerable.
The Pacific islands also must cope with economic vulnerability due to their geographic isolation and small size. According to the Asian Development Bank, 31 percent of Fiji’s population and 26.9 percent of Samoa’s population lived below the poverty line in 2014. Tourism is a key driver of economic development in these destinations. The industry has the potential to combat poverty by providing more jobs, growing incomes, and creating markets for local goods and services. However, there is still an opportunity for the tourism sector in the Pacific to be more inclusive of local suppliers and service providers and prioritize capacity building. This will help ensure that local communities are truly reaping the economic benefits of the industry.
What We're Doing
At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, Heads of State adopted the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), a global framework for action to accelerate the shift towards SCP including resource efficient and low carbon tourism, in both developed and developing countries. In 2015, the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Alliance (PSTA) was formed as a public-private partnership with the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) to help fast track sustainability in the region. Sustainable Travel International working with the SPTO under the auspices of the PSTA, was awarded a grant through the 10YFP Trust Fund call for proposals for Sustainable Tourism Programme to implement a pilot project focused on improving sustainable resource management in hotels in the Pacific.
The destinations participating in the preliminary stage of the project are Fiji and Samoa; however the eventual intention is to expand to other Pacific Islands. Through this work, the partners hope to inspire a new commitment to sustainability among members of the local tourism industry and empower them to improve their consumption and production behavior by:
- Collaborating with local stakeholders to identify the barriers to sustainable consumption and production within the destination
- Training 100 hotel managers on sustainable tourism best practices such as sourcing goods locally, using resources more efficiently, and utilizing a supply chain that is more inclusive of local people and cultures
- Raising awareness among hotel managers on the financial and economic benefits of incorporating sustainability practices into their business operations
- Equipping 100 hotels with a Sustainability Management System (SMS) – a digital tool to monitor energy-use, waste-reduction, water consumption, and sustainable sourcing
Long Term Impacts
By influencing the sustainability behavior in businesses and across destinations, this project will lead to a more robust economy and a better future for people and environments in the Pacific. The anticipated long-term impacts include:
For more information about this project, please contact Paloma Zapata.
The most popular of Torres del Paine’s trekking routes is the Base Torres trail. And for good reason. After traversing through plunging valleys and rocky slopes, adventurers are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the park’s centerpiece – the “Towers of Paine. These three iconic granite spires tower high above a turquoise lagoon at the crest of the trail.
During high season, the Base Torres trail can receive 1,000 hikers in a single day. This heavy foot traffic, causes significant wear and tear on the trail. As a result, the Base Torres trail is now severely eroded. Other factors, including the harsh climate, steep grades, and poor trail alignment only exacerbate these impacts.
These degraded trail conditions not only pose a safety concern for hikers, they also impact the park’s sensitive ecosystems. Improving the Base Torres trail is an urgent priority requiring a large-scale, public-private effort. To address this challenge, the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is teaming up with the Chilean National Forest Corporation (CONAF) and AMA Torres del Paine to implement a collaborative conservation project titled “Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine.”
This project will restore the Base Torres trail system. Tread will be repaired and constructed following sustainable design principles. Creating a sustainable trail system will reduce erosion, lessen environmental impacts, and minimize the need for continual maintenance.
Improved trail conditions will lead to a safer, more enjoyable visitor experience. At the same time, the rejuvenated trail will connect people with nature in an engaging and responsible way. Trail stewardship is key to protecting the long-term health of our national parks, particularly one as popular as Torres del Paine.
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