Welcome to our blog, which features a new topic every month, with different experts sharing their opinions and knowledge in these original articles.
*Please note that the views presented in these articles are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the Pacific Asia Travel Association
ฺby JJ Harvey, International Coordinator, Green Fins
It is not often that people associate the SCUBA diving industry or snorkelers with being a potential leader when it comes to fighting climate change or other marine conservation aspects in today’s climate. However, due to initiatives such as Green Fins, more and more diving and snorkelling businesses are becoming the new weapon in the fight to ensure the sustainability of one of the world’s fastest and increasingly popular activities in what is now the world’s fastest growing industry – tourism.
Green Fins is paving the way to unite politics and marine conservation efforts to ensure the sustainability of popular diving destinations around the world. Established through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation, Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations, and environmental education for dive staff, divers and governments. Over 400 dive and snorkel operators across six countries have signed up for free membership, and are using Green Fins as a platform to set examples of sustainable business operations. Participating members are awarded a unique certificate based on annual assessments that is co-signed by the national government, the United Nations, and The Reef-World Foundation.
The need for leadership in the travel and tourism industry has never been more critical. As a society and industry, we are grappling with large scale global and regional challenges – climate change, over-crowding at tourism sites and the resulting strain on infrastructure and social and economic inequality in many destinations – that require a new type of leadership from truly progressive entities.
Most governments appear unwilling or unable to lead, especially National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) needing to follow agendas dictated by national governments. Civil society, while highly engaged on sustainability issues, typically does not have the scale or infrastructure to deliver the required change. And multilateral associations, including the UNWTO, seem to be beholden to the political whims of national members.