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Photograph by Josh Haner

In the Pearl River Delta, breakneck development is colliding with the effects of climate change.

GUANGZHOU, China — The rains brought torrents, pouring into basements and malls, the water swiftly rising a foot and a half.

The city of Dongguan, a manufacturing center here in the world’s most dynamic industrial region, was hit especially hard by the downpour in May 2014. More than 100 factories and shops were inundated. Water climbed knee-high in 20 minutes, wiping out inventory for dozens of businesses.

Next door in Guangzhou, an ancient, mammoth port city of 13 million, helicopters and a fleet of 80 boats had to be sent to rescue trapped residents. Tens of thousands lost their homes, and 53 square miles of nearby farmland were ruined. The cost of repairs topped $100 million.

Chen Rongbo, who lived in the city, saw the flood coming. He tried to scramble to safety on the second floor of his house, carrying his 6-year-old granddaughter. He slipped. The flood swept both of them away.

Flooding has been a plague for centuries in southern China’s Pearl River Delta. So even the rains that May, the worst in the area in years, soon drifted from the headlines. People complained and made jokes on social media about wading through streets that had become canals and riding on half-submerged buses through lakes that used to be streets. But there was no official hand-wringing about what caused the floods or how climate change might bring more extreme storms and make the problems worse.

Read the full article about the threat of rising waters for Chinese cities here.

By  from The New York Times

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Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

 

Songkran is the Thai New Year festival celebrated from 13 – 15 April. It is one of the country’s most important public holidays. Songkran is a Buddhist festival also celebrated in many other parts of Asia including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and parts of China. Each country has its own unique rituals and celebrations.

Water holds considerable significance during Songkran. It is a vital part of the celebrations as it is used for the ritual cleansing. However, this ritual expands inevitably into a giant fiesta of water splashing. If you visit these countries during this New Year period, be prepared to get very wet!

Songkran is a joyous time and an important festival for all Buddhists but it is important to act responsibly and conserve water – our most precious natural asset.

Here are some thoughts to consider when celebrating Songkran this week-end:

 

  1. Celebrate in traditional style

Celebrate Songkran traditionally by sprinkling a small amount of water over the hands of elders to receive a blessing for the upcoming year. This is a gentle and very meaningful gesture in Buddhist society.

 

  1. Use spray bottles – not water guns

It may be tempting and probably a must to take part in a water fight but you should consider using spray bottles as an alternative to the water guns.

 

  1. Visit a temple

Many temples offer Songkran activities and traditional shows where you may learn about the core concept of the water festivals in the company of local residents and fellow visitors.

 

Check South East Asia’s best temples here.

Songkran is a wonderful opportunity for mingling with locals and making new friends. Take time to consider how best to celebrate this year’s amazing Songkran Festival whilst remaining ever mindful of the need to conserve water.

 

Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

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White rhinos graze on a ranch belonging to John Hume, one of the rhino farmers who sued to overturn South Africa’s ban on the domestic sales of rhino horn. PHOTOGRAPH BY WALDO SWIEGERS, BLOOMBERG/GETTY

 

It will soon be legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. The country’s constitutional court dismissed an application to appeal from the government to keep a ban on the trade in place, the South African government confirms.

This ends a lengthy legal battle that pitted rhino owners, who farm rhinos like livestock and want to be able to sell their reserves of rhino horn once again, against the government’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which placed a moratorium on the trade in 2009 after a jump in poaching. Lower courts have sided with the rhino farmers, but the ban remained in place as the government’s appeal worked through the courts. Knowing that it may lose, the government began preparing for legalization earlier this year by issuing new draft regulations to govern the trade. They say that anyone with a permit will be able to buy and sell rhino horns and that foreigners will be allowed to export a maximum of two horns for “personal purposes.”

Read more on the legislation of rhino horn here.

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Plastic has dominated the in-flight experience, but airlines including Iberia and Qantas are experimenting with ways to reduce packaging. Photograph: Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images
Airlines generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration – and it cost them £400m.

You probably know about the waste problem in our oceans. But how about the one in our skies?

Airline passengers generated 5.2m tonnes of waste in 2016, most of which went to landfill or incineration, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates. That’s the weight of about 2.6m cars. And it’s a figure set to double over the next 15 years.

Toilet waste is included in that statistic. But so are miniature wine bottles, half-eaten lunch trays, unused toothbrushes and other hallmarks of air travel.

Once a plane has landed, huge volumes of disposable items are thrown away, says Matt Rance, chief executive of MNH Sustainable Cabin Services, a company that advises airlines on waste reduction. “It’s almost like taking a tube, tipping it upside down, emptying it out and then saying ‘right, fill it up with new stuff again’.”

The airline industry has taken flak for its growing greenhouse gas emissions as passenger numbers rise. But could its massive waste footprint be solved without affecting the sector’s growth?

 

Read the full article here.

By Olivia Boyd from The Guardian.

 

 

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No detail is too small, especially when it comes to cleaning. This idea can be applied to every area of hospitality, but today we are specifically referring to spring cleaning. When you think about spring cleaning, de-cluttering comes to mind, but have you thought about the cleaning products you use? Sustainable living starts with our daily routine, so let’s pay attention to how we can reduce our impact while doing daily chores and cleaning at work or home.

 

Cleaning products can contain harmful chemicals that end up polluting our soil and waterways. Below are some eco- and wallet-friendly substitutes for commercial cleaning products that do the job and are appropriate for office, hotel properties and even your home.

 

 

  1. Use baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to clean silver items

Baking soda is a great cleaning product that is readily available and is quite inexpensive. When cleaning, add three parts of bicarb to one part with water and mix it, creating a paste. You can use this paste for any silver item. Once finished, rinse with water and wipe with a dry cloth.

 

  1. The microwave-lemon trick

Squeeze some lemon juice into a microwaveable bowl and cook for three minutes in the microwave. Afterwards, leave it to stand for approximately five minutes, then open the door and wipe out the microwave using a dry cloth. The microwave grime will come right off! If lemon juice is cost-prohibitive, vinegar works just as well!

 

  1. Dabble in vinegar

Speaking of which, vinegar can have multiple uses for cleaning. It works well to remove grease in the kitchen, and clears up cloudy deposits on wine glasses, and to clean mold and mildew in bathrooms. It even works well to works well to freshen up leather products – dab using a dry cloth and gently brush on. Here are more uses and recipes for vinegar as a cleaning product!

 

  1. Environmental friendly cleansers:

If using chemical or commercial cleansers inform yourself about ingredients and packaging. Check the ecolabel and be sure to read more on criteria to evaluate green supplies.

 

There are many ways to make a positive impact on our environment. While it can be intimidating to “go green“ in every part of our lives, every small step can make a big difference.

 

Read more on eco-friendly cleaning here.

 

 

 

 

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As predicted earlier, the buzzword “du jour” in tourism is fast becoming transformation. Its predecessor, sustainability, has through over and mis-use become meaningless and ineffective lacking the capacity to lift hearts, inspire hope and, ironically, sustain action. I am delighted but also very concerned.. Here’s why.

New buzzwords are favoured by a sector that, by its very nature, has to focus on quick fixes to short-term problems and thrives on novelty. Tourism is a phenomenon run by marketers and there is a good reason for that. Its suppliers sell dreams and fulfill fantasies. The customer cannot experience the “product” prior to its consumption. Hosts must defy gravity and inertia to lift their customers from their armchairs to a place far from home by stimulating desire and imagination. Hosts must paint pictures that trigger a desire strong enough to generate a “click,” then a booking and sustain interest and enthusiasm through the rigours and unpleasantries of passage to the source of the anticipated experience.

In my forty-four year career, I have observed first-hand how marketers have progressed from one promise to another as their customers became more sophisticated in their needs and demands. While I like to look forward, sometimes an understanding of context and history can be helpful.

Read the full article here.

 

By Anna Pollock from Conscious Travel

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The $1.2 trillion travel industry, which moves more than a billion international travelers around the globe each year, has both the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to cleaner, greener and more respectful travel practices, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

And with that in mind, for 2017 the organization has launched a yearlong “Travel. Enjoy. Respect.” campaign aimed at educating travelers about how to reduce their environmental impact.

“Global tourism is really big business … but sustainable tourism still only represents a small fraction of the global industry,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the UNWTO, which declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

According to the UNWTO, tourism generates an estimated 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and tourists consume much more water while on vacation than they do at home. With the number of global tourists expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2020, issues such as waste generation at resorts and on cruise ships, overfishing on coral reefs to feed visitors and the impact of the ballooning global travel industry on local cultures is cause for concern, the organization said.

Thus the UNWTO is working to inspire a sea change in the travel industry, a message that appears to be resonating with some travel companies that have responded by committing to changing the way they do business.

 

Read more here. 

 

By Michelle Baran from Travel Weekly

 

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Travelling breaks down barriers and promotes diversity. Travel is about shared experiences and building friendships. It is a great way to learn understanding for different customs.

If we teach our children how to make the right travel choices, it can not only benefit them, but it will also make the world a better place.

 

Here are some ways to travel more responsibly with your children:

 

  1. Choose sustainable transport

Explain to children how biking, walking or using public transport is much better for the planet and then choose one of those modes of transport every day during your holiday. Understanding the impact of your carbon footprint will help children to grow into more responsible travellers. Read more on green transportation here.

 

  1. Choose responsible destinations

Make time to plan your trip together with your children – research each destination’s commitment to the protection of people, animals, sites of important historic interests and, of course, the environment. Participating in this process enables younger travellers to learn about the importance of sustainable and responsible travel. Read about top destinations that enforce sustainable tourism here.

 

  1. Get off the beaten path

Choose places where you may connect with locals and learn about their traditions. Building closer connections with a place is much more enjoyable and inspiring for you and your children. Consider asking your tour operator about participating in a community based tour or a local handcraft activity.

 

  1. Encounter wildlife with respect

Teach your children a few basic rules and lead by example: use a quiet voice, do not touch, feed or get too close to wildlife and always obey the rules and instructions.

 

Showing children how to travel responsibly now will shape them into empathic and compassionate travellers and more learned members of society. And by travelling with them as responsible adults it’s a fascinating learning experience for the entire family.

Read more on sustainable travel with children here.

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The same people and organizations we admire for protecting our wild places also have a history of being apathetic—or plain antagonistic—toward issues of race and social justice

Given the history of conservationists elevating endangered plant life over endangered black lives, it is environmentalism’s soul that most needs saving.    Photo: Kristen Rogers Photography/Stock

 

Facing a new White House administration led by Donald Trump, environmental leaders recently signed an accord pledging their allegiance to civil rights and social justice. Among the signatories are several leaders of the Sierra Club, including its executive director, Michael Brune, who in recent years has steered the organization toward rather bold stances on a range of issues that aren’t traditionally recognized as “green.” In 2013, its board of directors voted that the organization should advocate for immigrant rights. The following year, the Sierra Club endorsed and defended the Black Lives Matter movement. Since President Trump came into office, the organization’s resolve has only strengthened, as Brune indicated in a November 18 blog post: “I’m proud of how the Sierra Club has begun to address the intersection of climate with inequality, race, class, and gender, and I guarantee that we’ll go even deeper.”

This shift toward racial justice matters has not been universally accepted among the Sierra Club’s ranks and may even have cost it a few members. Those who disapprove have often expressed sentiments amounting to “racism is not the environmental movement’s responsibility.” But Brune says the organization won’t be backing off anytime soon, a position he forcefully defended on the group’s blog. He will assure his members, he tells me, “that we are continuing to protect wildlife and wild places, and this is how we can best do that in the 21st century.”

What Brune is acknowledging is the darker legacy of the green movement. Some may believe that environmentalism has little to do with social justice issues, but the mission of the Sierra Club, and many conservation groups like it throughout the late-19th century and most of the 20th century, was anything but race neutral. In many ways, racial exclusivity actually shaped the environmental mission, which is what makes the Sierra Club’s leap toward civil rights advocacy such a radical move. It’s important not because a network like Black Lives Matter needs environmentalists, but because environmentalists need black lives. Given the history of conservationists elevating endangered plant life over endangered people of color, it is environmentalism’s soul that most needs saving.

 

Read the full article here.

By Brentin Mock from Outside

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A report from CDP finds that S&P 500 companies with sustainability strategies are outperforming the other companies on the index. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

 

Analysis of S&P 500 companies finds that corporations with sustainability strategies outperform others on the index

A new report by nonprofit CDP, released Tuesday, provides some of the first evidence of a link between business leadership on climate change and a company’s profitability.

The study, which coincides with the climate talks in New York, finds that S&P 500 companies that build sustainability into their core strategies are outperforming those that fail to show leadership.

Specifically, corporations that are actively managing and planning for climate change secure an 18% higher return on investment (ROI) than companies that aren’t – and 67% higher than companies who refuse to disclose their emissions.

The findings could help answer the long-debated industry question of whether sustainability undermines or improves financial results. Read more on how sustainable corporations perform better financially here.

From The Guardian by Jo Confino.

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