Sustainable Tourism Series : What are SDGs?
By now many of us have heard the term “Sustainable Development Goals”. The United Nations has set out to create a framework for businesses in all economic sectors to guide themselves on developing in a way that contributes positively to the environment and their local communities. These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cover metrics on how the global “we” are doing to meet the demands of a changing climate, and growing inequality in our communities.
Tour operators are the representatives of the cultural and biological heritage of a region. We have a unique opportunity as stewards of an area to educate our visitors on the importance of maintaining biological diversity and preserving local culture. Our businesses can also set an example for others by operating with respect in the way we treat collaborators, vendors, and service providers. We can focus on educating locals on more sustainable practices to make them more competitive and resilient in the face of an increasingly globalized economy.
Many tour companies operate in rural and remote natural areas that are vulnerable to rapid changes. In these areas, tour companies are in an excellent position to contribute to local economies, education, and development, but they are also in a position to gentrify, exclude, and exploit those same communities. Azuero Adventures places a very high priority on both social and ecological sustainability, integrating them into the core values of our company and future. The choices we make as a consumers can greatly affect the communities we visit. As we strive to develop more meaningful and authentic travel experiences, we ask our visitors to remember to seek out guides that focus on community outreach, conservation, local culture, inclusion, and small group experiences. Choosing these types of guides and experiences will make the difference in how the Tourism Industry progresses towards meeting the SDG targets for the future.
As one of the fastest growing economic sectors and representing 10% of global GDP the Tourism Industry can be a major contributor to a more sustainable future if we commit to meeting and exceeding these goals. As a small tour operator in a coastal wilderness area we have placed the following goals at the top of our list; SDG 8 : ‘Decent work and Economic Growth’; and SDG 12 : ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’. SDG 14 : ‘Life Below Water’; and SDG 15 : ‘Life on Land’
In this series we will cover each of these Goals, why they are important, how they affect our business, how they impact our local communities, and how we can contribute to their success in our Day-to-Day operations.