International Biodiversity Day May 22, 2017

International Biodiversity Day May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22nd will be proclaimed the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB)  by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the United Nations.

We are excited to be helping our friends at the UN get the word out on this vital global event! Won’t you join us on this mission!
If yes, JOIN THE THUNDERCLAP!idb-2017-logo

In just under a week from today, the United Nations and its many global supporters, including thousands of bloggers such as ourselves will be celebrating the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB).

Inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to
sustainable development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1993 to support three main objectives:
1. The conservation of biological diversity|
2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

Aruba has consistently done its part to further the global initiative to protect fragile ecosystems along with spear-heading many successful programs to increase sustainable tourism.arubaaward
As of March 2015, Aruba has been awarded the National Geographic World Legacy Award for “Destination Leadership”
–making tourism more sustainable
–keeping the island environmentally friendly for local populations

Destination Leadership is defined as – Travel destinations that are exhibiting and excelling by instituting programs to assist the local environment, preserving the natural and cultural identity of the locale, making sure the domestic communities protected by these programs and allowing visitors to participate in local activities to enhance and educate increasing the understanding of the need for sustainability.

WINNER: Aruba, Caribbean

Destination Leadership is defined as – Travel destinations that are exhibiting and excelling by instituting programs to assist the local environment, preserving the natural and cultural identity of the locale, making sure the domestic communities protected by these programs and allowing visitors to participate in local activities to enhance and educate increasing the understanding of the need for sustainability.

Read About Aruba’s award-winning efforts:

From: Convention of Biological Diversity (IDB2017)
Press Brief: Travel Responsibly

Sustainable travel is about making simple choices to lessen your negative impact on a given destination. Individually, each one of these choices makes only a small difference. But collectively, these little things can have a huge impact. How we travel, what we carry, what we eat and drink, what we do at our destination, what we buy, and what we leave behind, can all change the impact we have. Respecting our world and all that makes us different and unique will enhance your travel experience.

To highlight what we all can do as individual travelers to preserve the integrity of our environment, the following list has been compiled from a range of sources, including the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and is intended for use by the general public:

Respect wildlife and their natural habitats
12Observe wildlife quietly and from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Do not disturb wildlife or plants for a “better look”. Never feed wildlife. Feeding animals makes them habituated to and reliant on humans, and often leads to attacks and possible death for the animal.

Respect indigenous peoples and local communities
Opening your mind to other cultures and traditions, and being respectful of diversity, can transform your travel experience. Learn as much as possible about your destination before you arrive even, and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions. Remember to always be tolerant and respectful of local social and cultural traditions and practices. Avoid behaviour that could offend the local population. Any tourism activities should be conducted in harmony with the attributes and traditions of the host regions and countries and in respect for their laws, practices and customs.

Prevent the spread of disease
Before departure, check with health professionals about any vaccinations you may need in the country or countries you are visiting. Ensure that your vaccinations are up to date to prevent the risk of introducing new diseases to your destinations. Take precautions commensurate with the risks involved and consult medical advice as necessary.

Prevent spread of invasive alien species
As a traveler, whether you know it or not, you pick up a lot of “hitchhikers” along the way. These hitchhikers can come in many forms. Seeds, insect egg, and other living material can hitchhike on your shoes to new locations (both your destination and your home on your way back), where they might become invasive alien species. Invasive alien species often lead to the elimination of local species and is one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss. When natural habitats for wildlife are degraded and biodiversity is lost, crucial ecosystem services are compromised also for humans, most often affecting first the poor and the most vulnerable, women and children.

Be vigilant when making purchases
The purchases we make can have a profound impact on wildlife. Think twice before buying or consuming something made out of an exotic tree, plant or wild animal or rare rock or fossil. Some species, and products made with them, are because of their endangered nature, banned or restricted from being traded or imported/exported. Therefore travellers would be contributing to the demise of the species and breaking the law to buy them or travel with them. Other products and the materials they’re made with might also be using biodiversity/species in a non-sustainable manner (even if not endangered at the present) and travellers should encourage the sustainable use of biodiversity. If in doubt, consult credible sources like CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and WWF. WWF_25mm_no_tabGenerally refrain from buying products such as bags made from wild leather, carvings made from ivory, or mounted insects, shells or animals. Often sound alternatives are available, such as purchasing handicrafts made by local artisans where the profits go directly to local communities rather than poachers or unscrupulous traders. Safeguarding a country’s wildlife is the most sustainable way of securing the future for the people who depend on it for survival.

Bargaining and haggling: Colourful markets and bazaars are among the highlights of every journey. Haggling has to be learned, though. Do only haggle if you are really interested in buying something: Haggling is communication as well as game. Be fair. The more you smile while haggling, the more fun it will be. If you accept the first-mentioned price with a grim face, you will lose money and not be a partner for a fair and good trade. At oriental bazaars, a glass of tea is part of the ritual. Accepting it won’t oblige you to buy anything. If you don’t like haggling, you better buy in shops where there are fixed prices

Street hawkers: Tourism does not benefit everyone to the same degree. Locals who don’t have formal jobs in tourism might try to make a living by selling self-made jewellery or food. If a street hawker approaches you at the beach, bear in mind that he or she also tries to earn a living from tourism. Be respectful towards street hawkers at the beach. They try to earn a living for themselves and their families. Don’t react in an annoyed manner if their approach initially seems obtrusive. Many street hawkers are extremely poor. They often have clear minimum prices. Don’t haggle mercilessly for every cent!

Water is a precious resource. It is very scarce in many tourist destinations and should not be wasted mindlessly. Inquire about the water conditions in your destination and choose hotels, which adapt their water use to the environment. Spacious hotel complexes with park-like pastures that need constant watering have tremendous water consumption. Only take short showers when water is scarce. Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth and report dripping taps. Refuse to have towels and bed linen changed every day in order to save water and chemicals.

Energy: Use energy economically, especially in countries of the timthumb maxresdefaultGlobal South. Do you really need air conditioning? If not, leave this power-guzzler turned off – additionally, you will avoid catching a cold. This also applies to heating: Reducing the room temperature from for example 20 to 18 degrees Celsius helps to economise 3 to 5 percent energy. If wood is scarce in the region you visit, you should refrain from a campfire, even if you really love it. Leave this precious resource to the locals who often don’t have alternatives. Make sure that kerosine and not wood is used for cooking on mountain hikes.

Sports and other activities: Many adventure sports damage the environment. Climbing, mountainbiking, rafting and others sports should only be practised in areas designated for this purpose. Don’t leave any garbage behind and refrain from explorations with motorised means of transport – nature is best experienced on foot or by bicycle! Stay on marked trails, refrain from illegal camping and don’t lit a fire. Take particular care when smoking.

Crime: All around the globe – and especially in tourist destinations – there is criminality. The lack of prospect for many young people and malfunctioning legal systems are reasons for criminality. Be attentive and watchful. Keep your money and documents close to your body and put valuables in various pockets. You should not be afraid, as fear won’t help in any situation. Look up emergency numbers and English-speaking doctors before you start your journey.
In protected areas, access only the places open to visitors
The world’s national parks and nature reserves receive around eight billion visits every year, according to a recent study1. Increasing the number of visitors to protected areas can be an effective tool for conservation and community development, provided well-functioning management systems are in place. When travelling on foot, stay on established tracks whenever possible to minimise disturbance or damage to the soil and vegetated surfaces. Where a track does not exist, take the most direct route and avoid vegetation, fragile terrain and wildlife. Never touch or harass wild animals. Refrain from illegal camping and don’t light fires.

Be careful when diving near coral reefs
Coral reefs are very delicate and biodiverse ecosystems, and extremely endangered globally. Never touch them, step on them, or damage them by snorkeling or diving too close. Avoid using sunscreen if possible when diving near them. If you must use sunscreen, avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound. Many commonly used sunscreens can both kill and cause DNA damage in coral. The best way to protect coral reefs when diving is to cover your skin with a long-sleeve shirt, rash guard and wet suit.

Sustainable travel tips

Do like the locals
If possible, choose locally owned lodges and hotels. Use local buses, car rental companies and airlines. Buy locally made handcrafts and products. Respect livelihoods of local vendors and artisans by paying a fair price (i.e. do not try to haggle prices down below a reasonable level). Eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets, and attend local festivals and events. If you have the means, hire local guides with in-depth knowledge of the area.

Choose nature-friendly accommodation
Ask hotels/lodges about their environmental policies. Do they have an environmental policy? Have they implemented energy and water saving measures – for example, spacious hotel complexes with park-like pastures that need constant watering have tremendous water consumption. Do they contribute to local conservation efforts and support local communities? Do they compost? Recycle? Reuse towels and bed linens for multiple days. Avoid using the hotel laundry if possible, as they typically wash each guest’s clothes separately

20140929_093859Conserve water and power
Take short showers (the average hotel guest uses over 300 litres of water per night/in a luxury hotel it is approximately 1800 litres). Globally, tourists consume three times the amount of freshwater contained in Lake Superior per year in freshwater, and use 80% of Japan’s primary energy supply. Therefore, turn off the taps while shaving and brushing your teeth, report dripping taps and turn off lights and heating or air conditioning when not in use. Reuse towels for multiple days.

Eat wisely
Choose wisely what you put on your plate. Try to choose locally sourced produce that is in season. Be aware that certain endangered species may be on the menu without your knowledge. Ask local conservation organizations for a list of what to look out for.

Avoid plastic
Reduce the use of single-use plastics at the individual level by using reusable shopping bags and water bottles. Do not use straws to drink. Buy sodas in glass bottles that can be recycled. Choose cosmetic and personal care products that don’t contain microplastics – as microplastics tend not to be filtered out during sewage treatment and are released directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Don’t litter
Dispose waste responsibly. Carry back all non-biodegradable litter. If you’re camping, leave campsites litter-free before departing.

Slow travel
If you have the time, take the bus, train, or ship where you can. It is more environmentally friendly. Try to fly less frequently and stay in one place for a longer time. When you do need to fly, opt for non-stop flights rather than connections. Fewer flights mean fewer emissions.

Stay informed
Be informed as to what you as a traveler can do to ensure the best experience possible, for both you and for the environment:

UN World Tourism Organization – Global Code of Ethics for Tourism:
UN World Tourism Organization – The Responsible Tourist and Traveler, a practical guide for travelers:
UN World Tourism Organization – Tips for a responsible traveler:
Green Passport – UN Environment initiative helps travelers make tourism a sustainable activity:
Buyer Beware – Guide to souvenirs to avoid while traveling:
Tourism Review – News portal targeted at travel and tourism professionals:
The International Ecotourism Society – Non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ecotourism:
The World Travel and Tourism Council – Brings together major players in the travel and tourism sector, enabling them to speak with one voice to governments and international bodies:
Sustainable Travel International – Helps governments, companies, NGOs and local communities to use tourism to achieve the right balance between economic development, green growth, and protection of their natural and cultural assets:


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