SUSTAINABLE TRAVELLING

>> The way we travel is as important as the places we travel to and activities we take up. It marks not only your experience as a traveller but everything it is composed of.

Travelling, exploring and getting to know new places is something most of the people cannot imagine their lives without. Travelling is a fundamental source of experiences that enrich our lives. Nomaddict’s aim is to inform about the significance, advantages and practical bonuses of getting around in the sustainable way. On the other side, we want to underline the actual costs (not only economic, but also ecological, social and cultural) arising when using common techniques of travelling and to make suggestions on more sustainable travelling approaches for our trips. What is more, we believe sustainable travelling is the only way all parts involved benefit from.

Sustainable travelling planner - supporting local community in Todos Santos Guatemala

In United Nations Environment Programme report on “ Sustainable Travelling in the United Nations ”, issued in 2010: ‘The term “ Sustainable Travelling ” belongs to the same family of definitions as “sustainable development”, “sustainable production”, or “sustainable agriculture”. It should not be misinterpreted to mean that the purpose is to travel as much as possible (“to sustain travelling”) but to travel in a way that minimizes associated negative (environmental, social and economic) effects. In this context “Sustainable Travelling” is thus defined as: Travel where the associated environmental, social and economic impact is minimized, without negatively affecting the ability of the organization to deliver its mandate’ (for more details see:

http://www.greeningtheblue.org/sites/default/files/sustravel_13.09.10.pdf).

Everybody has a different pace, style and way of roaming around, and it is all understandable, as long as we do not harm or have a negative influence on the surroundings. According to UN statistics: ‘CO2 emissions generated directly from the tourism sector account today for 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions but this may be higher (up to 14 per cent) if measured as radiative forcing, i.e. the warming caused by CO2 as well as other greenhouse gases. To understand the magnitude of these numbers it should be noted that if we compare tourism with the emissions of countries, tourism would be the 5th bigger polluter worldwide.”.

Sustainable travelling by nomaddict - cycling in cuba inspiration

In turn, “to sustain” means to enhance, to keep, to maintain, to underpin in between others and its linguistic derivatives indicate the act of maintaining and preserving. Let’s make sure we all understand what the term being discussed means. After The Collins Dictionary, sustainability is ‘the ability to be maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage’. Another dictionary explains that adjective sustainable is: ‘of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged’. It says its synonyms are: defendable, defensible, justifiable. When we apply these terms to the travel itself, what we get is a reasonable and wise behavioral pattern which can be characterized by respect for the natural habitat and contribution to the life of locals. It sounds good, doesn’t it?

It has become a trend to talk about the sustainability and we consider it a good sign. Next to the sustainable tourism, there are more terms aiming at improving the impact travelling has on people and nature. In between them are: responsible tourism, ecotourism, geotourism and voluntourism (to see the basic definitions see: http://www.sustainabletourism.net/sustainable-tourism/definitions/).

Volunteering while travelling in Brazil - building with earth by Terra Integral

On September 25th 2015, The United Nations adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Some of them are: decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption and production, life on land and below water and sustainable cities and communities. As you can read on their official webpage (www.un.org), ‘for the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people like you’. 

In the world of consumptionism and conformism, there is not much more needed for an average traveller than some sense of pleasure and having good fun. Something every voyager should know about is that every trip leaves a certain footprint in the environment and in the places we visit. As a first step, it is important to become aware of this fact, to just sow the seeds. Many of us do not seem to think about what and who is behind/underneath our fantastic, exotic experience. The brutal truth is there are thousands of people everywhere in the world being exploited, underpaid, used every day so that the tourism works. Instead of contributing to their economic state and life quality, this situation not infrequently leads to the degradation of local culture, traditions, ecosystems, economics and often morality. Civilizational advances can be a good thing but we should not assume every third world country is waiting for us to civilize them. More than our condescending approach, they will admire our cooperation, eagerness to learn and respect (1 of the 13 geotourism term principles for governments and tourism operators: ‘Encourage residents to show off the natural and cultural heritage of their communities, so that tourists gain a richer experience and residents develop pride in their locales.’ Geotourism is a definition invented by National Geographic Traveller).

Sustainable travelling in Pakistan - visiting local community near Lahore

According to the definition of UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation – committed to Tourism, Travel and the Millennium Developments Goals) from 2004, ‘Sustainable tourism should:
> Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
> Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
> Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary. […] should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.’ 

When it comes to us, Nomaddict Team supports the sustainable travelling and sustainability in general. We are founders of the Terra Integral Foundation whose focus is on (in between others) the popularization and progress of the sustainable development, permaculture and natural construction (see more on: terraintegral.org or facebook.com/institutoterraintegral/). The whole project emerged from an idea TOMEK hit on staying and volunteering at an eco-farm community in Bahia, Brasil during his 3-year-long travel throughout Latin America. Travel begins with an idea – the more sustainable your idea is, the more you and others benefit from it!

> For some more “sustainable travelling”-related resources, go to: http://www.sustainabletourism.net/sustainable-tourism/sustainable-tourism-resource/

> To read about the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET), Adopted in 1999 by the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization go to: http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/global-code-ethics-tourism

> To take a look at Sustaining Tourism’s Guide to Being a Responsible Traveller: http://www.sustainabletourism.net/sustainable-tourism/travel-tips-responsible-travel-tips/

> To visit the United Nations World Tourism Organization webpage on sustainable development of tourism, go to: http://sdt.unwto.org/content/about-us-5

> To download the Guidebook “Sustainable Tourism for Development” that has been carried out by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) with the financing of the European Commission Directorate-General Development and Cooperation, within the framework of the project “Enhancing capacities for Sustainable Tourism for Development in Developing Countries” in .pdf and e-book formats, see: http://icr.unwto.org/content/guidebook-sustainable-tourism-development 

> To see 31 tips for sustainable travel, visit: http://thisismyhappiness.com/2013/11/11/tips-sustainable-travel/

> Guidelines for eco-travellers (consider a “tour operator”/”guide” as yourself ;)): http://www.ecotourdirectory.com/ecotourism/guidelines_for_ecotravellers.php

> Go Green: Your guide to sustainable travel:  http://wanderlust.com/journal/travel-green-your-guide-to-sustainable-travel/

by Monika Lewicka

nomaddict.org