Increasing Global Risks

In a recent poll of nearly 1,000 business, government and academic leaders by the World Economic Forum for its 2022 Global Risks Report (17th edition), only one in 10 members surveyed expects the global recovery to accelerate over the next three years, and only one in six are optimistic about the outlook of the world.

Tourism is the economic lifeline for millions and according to the UNWTO data, 2021 international tourist arrival was 72% below 2019 pre pandemic levels, a 4% increase from 2020. As we start our 3rd year with Covid-19, uncertainty remains our present and future reality with the disruptive Omicron variant continuing to restrict travel and red-listing of countries.

“There is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic – or of any modern pandemic. Contact, known as spillover, allows viruses to cross over between species and spread more rapidly around the world. Covid-19 is the sixth global health crisis since the flu pandemic of 1918 and its emergence has been entirely driven by human activities,” says the report from Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), “There are 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in mammals and birds – up to 827,000 of which could infect people.”  

“The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use land, unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people,” said Dr Peter Daszak, chair of the panel which was convened by IPBES.  

At the start of the new year, I  wonder how bad it has to be before many with the  ‘frog-in-a-pot’ mentality perceive the danger and act to be part of the solutions.

Unless we – consumers, businesses and governments – take preventive actions beyond responding to pandemic outbreaks when they occur, another pandemic is inevitable in the coming years. Unless we implement regenerative sustainability and get to a carbon positive world before the destruction in nature becomes irreversible at 1.5Celsius above pre-industrial level, we will jeopardise ourselves and future generations.  

As I write, I am comparing the dire numbers of the pandemic today as confirmed by the World Health Organisation compared to when it was first declared in March 2020 (view Travel Uncertainty in the Face of Covid19). Today, there are 326,279,424 confirmed cases compared to 127,749 at the start of the pandemic, and 5,536,609 deaths compared to 4,717. 

Consumer awareness is high on the problems and the solutions.  2022 must be the Year to be Bold to drive the changes we need. Take a leap!

World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report since the start of the pandemic:

2020

The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic conditions and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. The challenges before us demand immediate collective action, but fractures within the global community appear to only be widening. Stakeholders need to act quickly and with purpose within an unsettled global landscape.

VIEW World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report (15th edition)

2021

Analyses of the risks from societal fractures—manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, youth disillusionment, and geopolitical fragmentation. Businesses risk a disorderly shakeout which can exclude large cohorts of workers and companies from the markets of the future. Environmental degradation—still an existential threat to humanity—risks intersecting with societal fractures to bring about severe consequences. Yet, with the world more attuned to risk, lessons can be drawn to strengthen response and resilience. In 2020, the risk of a pandemic became reality. As governments, businesses, and societies grapple with COVID-19, societal cohesion is more important than ever.

VIEW World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report (16th edition) 

2022

Tensions will result from a divergent recovery. Rapidly and slowly recovering countries alike will need to navigate economic and societal gaps to restore social cohesion, boost employment and thrive.

The pandemic’s cascading impacts are impeding the visibility of emerging challenges, including climate transition disorder, increased cyber vulnerabilities, greater barriers to international mobility, and crowding and competition in space. Global divisions risk deepening at a time when societies and the international community urgently need to collaborate to check COVID-19 and heal its scars.

VIEW 2022 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report (17th edition)

2022 – The Year to Be Bold

Patagonia’s plucky octogenarian founder, Yvon Chouinard, has shared many wise quotes since he launched his eco-conscious brand in 1973, fourteen years before the term sustainability was first mentioned in the 1987 Brundtland Report (UN’s Our Common Future).

If consumers have to tell companies to be green, they’re too late!”

“I used to think that if we could show that being a responsible business is good business, then others would follow. And some do, but they’re tiny little companies. But the public companies, they’re all green-washing. I have no hope that they’re going to change.  

“Politicians are pawns of corporations. Our best hope for change lies with consumers. You’ve got to change the consumers first and then the corporations will follow, and then the government will follow the corporations. They [governments] are last in line. 

Instead of ‘sustainable’, I prefer the term ‘responsible’, which starts with companies treating nature not as a resource to be exploited but as a unique, life-giving entity on which we all – not least business – depend.”

“It’s time for brands to become more vocally political. Consumers, especially among the young, increasingly expect their favourite brands to speak out.

The world has done too little to tackle climate change.  In the recent World Economic Forum survey for its Global Risks Report (17th edition), climate change was seen as the number one danger by respondents, while social cohesion erosion, livelihood crises, climate change failure, mental health deterioration and extreme weather were identified as the top 5 risks which had increased the most since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, rigorous sustainability with accountability and transparency and its far-reaching goals are a challenge to most companies since many still have the economic mindset where short-term benefits are priorities at an ultimate cost to people and planet, resulting in overconsumption, sustainability underinvestment, and depletion of resources.  

Do hotels care about sustainability?  Conscious travellers are leading the charge on sustainable actions and can detect its dark side known as greenwashing.  

Can the coronavirus change the travel industry for the better? Most travel and tourism brands and destinations are struggling to be purpose-led, embed sustainability as an SOP in their operations and drive the culture of regenerative sustainability and innovation needed to deliver on its goals. Two years with Covid-19 has been tough and disruptive to many businesses, but it has also become a convenient excuse.

 “What do conscious traveller want today?”  Most brands already know the answer, but the bigger question … “Is 2022 the year to be bold?”

Credit: Omar Prestwich

SUSTAINABILITY IN THE 2020s DECADE

The disruption of COVID-19 has not been enough to prompt polluting sectors to reconsider the harm they inflict on the planet and nowhere is this clearer than in the global tourism sector. 

For decades, sustainability has focused on doing less harm to the planet and lessening the irresponsible consumption of resources.  It’s definition has been subject to different interpretations and its three pillars lacked a clear and consistent definition.

NOW defines sustainability as development and actions that take responsibility for its total impacts, to build economies and communities that thrive, so that the planet can too. Sustainability must be regenerative and must result in greater benefits than damage in the destination and its ultimate goal is to support the Sustainable Development Goals, Clean Growth, and to be Carbon Positive before our planet reaches 1.5°C (34.7°F).  The best available science tells us that we have only ten years or less given the current trend of global CO2 emissions and the level of human-induced warming, when we will enter a one-way road to “irreversible destruction”.  

Clean Growth (SDG 7) aims to reduce, minimize, or where possible, eliminate the potential negative side effects that economic and income growth can have on the environment. 

The term sustainability is now mainstream and expanding into better work and health, but its ultimate goals will need a deeper commitment with tangible plans and delivery timelines, regulations with penalties, and bolder actions with accountability and transparency.

More tourism companies (hotels, resorts, retreats, conventions, cruise liners and destinations)  are working towards more responsible business, but the deliverables vary from symbolic initiatives to more vigorous actions that scrutinize sustainability practices in an effort to measure their impacts with accountability and provide transparency to investors, customers, employees and companies. More are scrutinising the sustainability programmes offered by certification bodies which range from programmes with cheap-and-easy checklists and self audits, to the more rigorous ‘accredited’ rigorous programmes with independent 3rd party audits and scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon measurements and reductions. 

 Many in the tourism sector desperately wants a return to the ‘Old Normal’, but It would be a disaster. 

CLARITY AND ACTIONS

The impacts of climate change, the science, the economics, the public sentiment and the solutions are now clear.  

At COP26 in Glasgow, the altruistic ‘we all have to be in this together’ approach resulted in the ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ signed by 197 parties from around the world. The conference served an accountability purpose and brought about discussions around ways in which countries might use financial incentives and trade to influence others. It moved the needle, but the situation is dire and our planet will surpass 1.5°C (34.7°F) and higher. The world needs to do more. It was not ‘blah, blah, blah’.

– The US-China agreement to put aside differences to address climate change. 

GFANZ – the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero committed to finding ways to get to net zero. 

– The First Movers Coalition partnership between the World Economic Forum and the US State Department will galvanize clean energy technology by getting companies to commit to buying it and thereby creating that demand signal. 

– The European Commission is rolling out the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) to create a border levy on products in a certain subset of high-carbon industries, so if products are imported from a place that has high emissions, there will be penalties.  The USA and UK may follow.

– While more than 100 countries signed the agreement on ending deforestation, and reducing methane emissions globally by 30% between 2020 and 2030, it is ineffective and lacking in means of enforcement. 

– The good news for the pursuit of corporate Carbon Zero goals are the more stringent rules on the carbon markets. This will  result in higher quality credits and boost confidence in the carbon market’s future, reduce the risk of double counting, and improve the transparency, reliability and liquidity of voluntary carbon markets. 5% of proceeds raised from offsets will be put into a fund for climate change adaptation in developing countries. 

INCREASED CONSUMER & INVESTOR INFLUENCE 

Informed and conscious consumers worldwide are using the power of knowledge, their voice, their vote and their wallet to demand massive change, accountable actions and transparency, and will have zero tolerance for greenwash. 

Even if most consumers/travelers are struggling to make it a lifestyle, more already have a sustainability mindset and increasing the pressure on brands to make it easier for them to do so. An Eco-wakening 2021 Report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by WWF, tells us that brands that deliver on pursuit of purpose, that drive a culture of sustainable innovation, are front runners in consumers’ eyes – and they are watching. 

Today, smart business executives and investors are understanding that sustainability saves money and needs to be accountable and transparent to be better for business. More are listening and responding to market pressures, and making an effort to understand sustainability trends to make sound decisions about how to allocate capital and resources to create value. More are embedding sustainability across their business in pursuit of their purpose, and some are confronting climate change by divesting from fossil fuel. More companies will acquire sustainability labels with preference for accredited certifications with independent audits, and seek partnerships that provide sustainability solutions towards Carbon Positive goals.

More shareholder-centric companies will have to become stakeholder-sensitive as customers’ demand for sustainable services and deliveries of products drive change in the production and servicing processes.  

REGULATOR CONTROLS

Regulators will have to ‘walk the talk’ towards more climate actions, be more stringent on regulations around sustainability and enforce stricter reporting and compliance on  emission measurement, reduction and offsetting. They will not tolerate ‘greenwashing’ on sustainability and zero-carbon pledges. 

After COP26 in Glasgow and a year full of pledges in 2021, more scrutiny is expected on plans made by member countries and companies in 2022.  Most have insufficient incentives to achieve optimal outcomes and intangible plans. Climate policies, where returns come decades after the cost, and collective action on standards, regulations, taxation and public infrastructure will need to be in place to assure ‘clean growth’ and for sustainable products and services to become financially sustainable. 

Credit: Eyoel Kahssay

CLIMATE ACTION,  REGENERATIVE & SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION

2022 will have more scrutiny, more focus on outcomes, more call-outs on greenwash.

The shift to regenerative and sustainable tourism, consumption and production will continue.  The average consumption of renewable energy will rise, and more companies will install renewable energy technology. More companies will measure their carbon footprint, and awareness of energy consumption will lead to reduction and offsetting of carbon emissions.  

Companies, consumers, investors and governments will focus on Clean Growth to help reduce, minimize, or where possible, eliminate the potential negative side effects that economic and income growth can have on the environment. 

Companies will create more sustainable supply chains and support the circular economy to separate economic growth from the use of resources and avoid unnecessary waste, reduce emissions and combat climate change.

COP 27 and the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022 and this should focus Africa on climate action. 

CARBON POSITIVE 

Companies, sectors and countries will shift emphasis towards Carbon Positive (Net Negative) targets which removes more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits, as the only viable way to ensure a safe future for humanity .   Drawing upon findings recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) published a report on 26 August 2021 titled ‘The Final Warning Bell’The report warns that reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is now “too little too late”, that current global emissions targets are inadequate, and that net negative (Carbon Positive) – rather than net zero – strategies are urgently required. If not, it is likely that global temperatures will exceed 1.5°C as soon as 2030, taking the world into a zone of dangerous climate change.

Stakeholders will support this trend knowing that we need to do more and Carbon Positive/Climate Positive is needed to reverse degradation and enrich the environment. 

CARBON OFFSETTING DEMAND  & PRICING INCREASES 

There are more stringent rules on the carbon markets and improved transparency, reliability and liquidity of the voluntary carbon market after COP26. This will increase confidence on carbon credits, reduce the risk of double counting and support the fund for climate change adaptation in developing countries.  

Prices are set to increase ten-fold this decade as excess supply are used up and there is more demand for carbon credits and more companies adopt a Carbon Positive climate commitment.

Companies will need to measure so they can manage! Companies will need to understand and track their Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions with accountability and transparency before they can reduce and offset them.

Net Zero or better – Carbon Positive –  is not a trend, it is a business need demanded by investors, and must be adopted and actioned by companies, and regulated by governments.  

A Life on Our Planet

In an impassioned speech to leaders at COP26 in Glasgow last month, 95 year old Sir David Attenborough told delegates that they are powerful enough to save the planet, IF they work together. He showed a video of the natural world and young people to warn that, because of rising carbon dioxide levels, the stability we all depend on is breaking.

Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. His feature documentary released late last year, David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, was his witness statement to share the most important message of his life in what is, perhaps, his most personal documentary to date. 

After watching the video, we urge you to read the TRANSCRIPT of DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET, an honest reflection on what the world has endured and an urgent warning for what is to come. Reading activates all our senses and imagination like no other. It is critical for his message to sink in and trigger bolder action in us going forward into 2022.

He tells us that we have ten years or less. That’s the time we have left to stop the world as we know it from entering a one-way road to “irreversible destruction”. “This is now our planet, run by humankind for humankind. We’ve not just ruined it, we’ve destroyed it.”

TRANSCRIPT –  A Life on Our Planet

This city in Ukraine was once home to almost 50,000 people. It had everything a community would need for a comfortable life. But on the 26th of April, 1986, it suddenly became uninhabitable. 

The nearby nuclear power station of Chernobyl exploded. And in less than 48 hours, the city was evacuated. No one has lived here since.

The explosion was a result of bad planning and human error. Mistakes. It triggered an environmental catastrophe that had an impact across Europe. Many people regarded it as the most costly in the history of mankind.

But Chernobyl was a single event. The true tragedy of our time is still unfolding across the globe, barely noticeable from day to day. I’m talking about the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.

The living world is a unique and spectacular marvel. Billions of individuals, and millions of kinds of plants and animals are dazzling in their variety and richness. Working together to benefit from the energy of the sun and the minerals of the earth. Leading lives that interlock in such a way that they sustain each other. We rely entirely on this finely tuned life-support machine. And it relies on its biodiversity to run smoothly. 

Yet the way we humans live on Earth now is sending biodiversity into a decline. This too is happening as a result of bad planning and human error and it too will lead to what we see here. A place in which we cannot live.

The natural world is fading. The evidence is all around. It’s happened in my lifetime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. This film is my witness statement and my vision for the future, the story of how we came to make this our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.

I am David Attenborough, and I am 93. I’ve had the most extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend my life exploring the wild places of our planet. I’ve traveled to every part of the globe. I’ve experienced the living world firsthand in all its variety and wonder. In truth, I couldn’t imagine living my life in any other way. I’ve always had a passion to explore, to have adventures, to learn about the wilds beyond. And I’m still learning. As much now as I did when I was a boy.

1937

WORLD POPULATION: 2.3 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 280 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 66%

It was a very different world back then. We had very little understanding of how the living world actually worked. It was called natural history because that’s essentially what it was all about… history. It was a great place to come to as a boy, because this is, um, ironstone workings, but it was disused. All this was absolutely clear, it was… only just stopped being a working quarry.

When I was a boy, I spent all my spare time searching through rocks in places like this for buried treasure. Fossils. It’s a creature called an ammonite. And in life the animal itself lived in the chamber here and spread out its tentacles to catch its prey. And it lived about 180 million years ago. This particular one has a scientific name of Tiltonicerus, because the first one ever was found near this quarry here in Tilton, in the middle of England. Over time, I began to learn something about the earth’s evolutionary history. By and large, it’s a story of slow, steady change.

Over billions of years, nature has crafted miraculous forms, each more complex and accomplished than the last. It’s an achingly intricate labor. And then, every hundred million years or so, after all those painstaking processes, something catastrophic happens, a mass extinction.

Great numbers of species disappear and are suddenly replaced by a few.

All that evolution is undone. You can see it. A line in the rock layers. A boundary that marks a profound, rapid, global change. Below the line are a multitude of lifeforms. Above, very few.

A mass extinction has happened five times in life’s four-billion-year history.

The last time it happened was the event that brought the end of the age of the dinosaurs. A meteorite impact triggered a catastrophic change in the earth’s conditions. 75% of all species were wiped out. Life had no option but to rebuild. For 65 million years, it’s been at work reconstructing the living world… until we come to the world we know… our time. Scientists call it the Holocene. The Holocene has been one of the most stable periods in our planet’s great history.

For 10,000 years, the average temperature has not wavered up or down by more than one degree Celsius. And the rich and thriving living world around us has been key to this stability. Phytoplankton at the ocean’s surface and immense forests straddling the north have helped to balance the atmosphere by locking away carbon. Huge herds on the plains have kept the grasslands rich and productive by fertilizing the soils. Mangroves and coral reefs along thousands of miles of coast have harbored nurseries of fish species that, when mature, then range into open waters. A thick belt of jungles around the equator has piled plant on plant to capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible, adding moisture and oxygen to the global air currents. And the extent of the polar ice has been critical, reflecting sunlight back off its white surface, cooling the whole earth. The biodiversity of the Holocene helped to bring stability, and the entire living world settled into a gentle, reliable rhythm … the seasons.

On the tropical plains, the dry and rainy seasons would switch every year like clockwork. In Asia, the winds would create the monsoon on cue.

In the northern regions, the temperatures would lift in March, triggering spring, and stay high until they dipped in October and brought about autumn.

The Holocene was our Garden of Eden. Its rhythm of seasons was so reliable that it gave our own species a unique opportunity.

We invented farming. We learnt how to exploit the seasons to produce food crops. The history of all human civilization followed. Each generation is able to develop and progress only because the living world could be relied upon to deliver us the conditions we needed. The pace of progress was unlike anything to be found in the fossil record.

Our intelligence changed the way in which we evolved. In the past, animals had to develop some physical ability to change their lives. But for us, an idea could do that. And the idea could be passed from one generation to the next. We were transforming what a species could achieve.

A few millennia after this began, I grew up at exactly the right moment.

The start of my career in my 20s coincided with the advent of global air travel. So, I had the privilege of being amongst the first to fully experience the bounty of life that had come about as a result of the Holocene’s gentle climate.

1954

WORLD POPULATION: 2.7 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 310 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 64%

Wherever I went, there was wilderness. Sparkling coastal seas. Vast forests. Immense grasslands. You could fly for hours over the untouched wilderness. And there I was, actually being asked to explore these places and record the wonders of the natural world for people back home.

And to begin with, it was quite easy. People had never seen pangolins before on television. They’d never seen sloths before. They had never seen the center of New Guinea before. It was the best time of my life.

The best time of our lives. The Second World War was over, technology was making our lives easier. The pace of change was getting faster and faster. It felt that nothing would limit our progress. The future was going to be exciting. It was going to bring everything we had ever dreamed of.

This was before any of us were aware that there were problems.

1960

WORLD POPULATION: 3.0 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 315 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 62%

My first visit to East Africa was in 1960. Back then, it seemed inconceivable that we, a single species, might one day have the power to threaten the very existence of the wilderness.

The Maasai word “Serengeti” means “endless plains.” To those who live here, it’s an apt description. You can be in one spot on the Serengeti, and the place is totally empty of animals, and then, the next morning… [bellowing] …one million wildebeest. A quarter of a million zebras. Half a million gazelle. 

A few days after that… and they’re gone… over the horizon. You can be forgiven for thinking that these plains are endless when they could swallow up such a herd. It took a visionary scientist, Bernhard Grzimek, to explain that this wasn’t true. He and his son used a plane to follow the herds over the horizon.

They charted them as they moved across rivers, through woodlands, and over national borders. They discovered that the Serengeti herds required an enormous area of healthy grassland to function. That without such an immense space, the herds would diminish and the entire ecosystem would come crashing down.

The point for me was simple: the wild is far from unlimited. It’s finite. It needs protecting. And a few years later, that idea became obvious to everyone.

I was in a television studio when the Apollo mission launched. It was the first time that any human had moved away far enough from the earth to see the whole planet. And this is what they saw… what we all saw. Our planet, vulnerable and isolated.

One of the extraordinary things about it was that the world could actually watch it as it happened. It was extraordinary that you could see what a man out in space could see as he saw it at the same time. And I remember very well that first shot. 

You saw a blue marble, a blue sphere in the blackness, and you realized that that was the earth. And in that one shot, there was the whole of humanity with nothing else except the person that was in the spacecraft taking that picture. And that completely changed the mindset of the population, the human population of the world. Our home was not limitless. There was an edge to our existence.

It was a rediscovery of a fundamental truth. We are ultimately bound by and reliant upon the finite natural world about us.

This truth defined the life we led in our pre-history, the time before farming and civilization. Even as some of us were setting foot on the moon, others were still leading such a life in the most remote parts of the planet.

In 1971, I set out to find an uncontacted tribe in New Guinea. These people were hunter-gatherers, as all humankind had been before farming. They lived in small numbers and didn’t take too much. They rarely ate meat. The resources they used naturally renewed themselves. Working with their traditional technology, they were living sustainably, a lifestyle that could continue effectively forever.

It was a stark contrast to the world I knew. A world that demanded more every day.

1978

WORLD POPULATION: 4.3 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 335 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 55%

I spent the latter half of the 1970s traveling the world, making a series I had long dreamed of called Life on Earth, the story of the evolution of life and its diversity. It was shot in 39 countries. We filmed 650 species, and we traveled one and a half million miles. That’s the sort of commitment you need if you want to even begin making a portrait of the living world.

But it was noticeable that some of these animals were becoming harder to find. 

When I filmed with the mountain gorillas, there were only 300 left in a remote jungle in Central Africa. Baby gorillas were at a premium, and poachers would kill a dozen adults to get one. I got as close as I did only because the gorillas were used to people. The only way to keep them alive was for rangers to be with them every day.

The process of extinction that I’d seen as a boy… in the rocks, I now became aware was happening right there around me to animals with which I was familiar.

Our closest relatives. And we were responsible. It revealed a cold reality.

Once a species became our target, there was nowhere on earth that it could hide.

Whales were being slaughtered by fleets of industrial whaling ships in the 1970s. The largest whales, the blues, numbered only a few thousand by then. They were virtually impossible to find. We found humpbacks off Hawaii only by listening out for their calls.

A moment ago, we made this recording with an underwater microphone here in the Pacific near Hawaii. Just listen to this. Recordings like these revealed that the songs of the humpbacks are long and complex. Humpbacks living in the same area learn their songs from each other. And the songs have distinct themes and variations which evolve over time. Their mournful songs were the key to transforming people’s opinions about them.

Animals that had been viewed as little more than a source of oil and meat became personalities.

We have pursued animals to extinction many times in our history, but now that it was visible, it was no longer acceptable. The killing of whales turned from a harvest to a crime. A powerful shared conscience had suddenly appeared.

Nobody wanted animals to become extinct. People were coming to care for the natural world as they were made aware of the natural world. And we now had the means to make people across the world aware.

By the time Life on Earth aired in 1979, I had entered my 50s. There were twice the number of people on the planet as there were when I was born.

You and I belong to the most widespread and dominant species of animal on earth.

We’re certainly the most numerous large animal. There are something like 4,000 million of us today, and we’ve reached this position with meteoric speed. It’s all happened within the last 2,000 years or so. We seem to have broken loose from the restrictions that have governed the activities and numbers of other animals.

We had broken loose. We were apart from the rest of life on earth, living a different kind of life. Our predators had been eliminated. Most of our diseases were under control. We had worked out how to produce food to order.

There was nothing left to restrict us. Nothing to stop us. Unless we stopped ourselves, we would keep consuming the earth until we had used it up.

Saving individual species or even groups of species would not be enough. Whole habitats would soon start to disappear.

I first witnessed the destruction of an entire habitat in Southeast Asia. In the 1950s, Borneo was three-quarters covered with rainforest.

We heard a crashing in the branches ahead. And there, only a few yards away, we spotted a great furry red form swaying in the trees. The orangutan.

By the end of the century, Borneo’s rainforest had been reduced by half. Rainforests are particularly precious habitats. More than half of the species on land live here. They’re places in which evolution’s talent for design soars.

Many of the millions of species in the forest exist in small numbers. Everyone has a critical role to play. Orangutan mothers have to spend ten years with their young, teaching them which fruits are worth eating. Without this training, they would not complete their role in dispersing seeds. The future generations of many tree species would be at risk. And tree diversity is the key to a rainforest.

In a single small patch of tropical rainforest, there could be 700 different species of tree, as many as there are in the whole of North America. And yet, this is what we’ve been turning this dizzying diversity into. A monoculture of oil palm. A habitat that is dead in comparison.

And you see this curtain of green with occasional birds in it, and you think it’s perhaps okay. But if you get in a helicopter, you see that that is a strip about half a mile wide. And beyond that strip, there is nothing but regimented rows of oil palms. There is a double incentive to cut down forests. People benefit from the timber… and then benefit again from farming the land that’s left behind.

Which is why we’ve cut down three trillion trees across the world. Half of the world’s rainforests have already been cleared. What we see happening today is just the latest chapter in a global process spanning millennia. The deforestation of Borneo has reduced the population of orangutans by two-thirds since I first saw one just over 60 years ago.

We can’t cut down rainforests forever, and anything that we can’t do forever is by definition unsustainable. If we do things that are unsustainable, the damage accumulates ultimately to a point where the whole system collapses. No ecosystem, no matter how big, is secure. Even one as vast as the ocean. This habitat was the subject of the series The Blue Planet, which we were filming in the late ’90s.

1997

WORLD POPULATION: 5.9 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 360 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 46%

It was… an astonishing vision of a completely unknown world, a world that had existed since the beginning of time. All sorts of things that you had no idea had ever existed, all in a multitude of colors, all unbelievably beautiful.

And all of them are completely undisturbed by your presence. For much of its expanse, the ocean is largely empty. But in certain places, there are hot spots where currents bring nutrients to the surface and trigger an explosion of life. In such places, huge shoals of fish gather. The problem is that our fishing fleets are just as good at finding those hot spots as are the fish. When they do, they’re able to gather the concentrated shoals with ease. It was only in the ’50s that large fleets first ventured out into international waters… to reap the open ocean harvest across the globe. Yet, they’ve removed 90% of the large fish in the sea. At first, they caught plenty of fish in their nets. But within only a few years, the nets across the globe were coming in empty.

The fishing quickly became so poor that countries began to subsidize the fleets to maintain the industry. Without large fish and other marine predators, the oceanic nutrient cycle stutters. The predators help to keep nutrients in the ocean’s sunlit waters, recycling them so that they can be used again and again by plankton. Without predators, nutrients are lost for centuries to the depths and the hot spots start to diminish.

The ocean starts to die.

Ocean life was also unravelling in the shallows. In 1998, a Blue Planet film crew stumbled on an event little known at the time. Coral reefs were turning white. The white color is caused by corals expelling algae that lives symbiotically within their body. When you first see it, you think perhaps that it’s beautiful, and suddenly you realize it’s tragic. Because what you’re looking at is skeletons. Skeletons of dead creatures.

The white corals are ultimately smothered by seaweed. And the reef turns from wonderland… to wasteland. At first, the cause of the bleaching was a mystery. But scientists started to discover that in many cases where bleaching occurred, the ocean was warming. For some time, climate scientists had warned that the planet would get warmer as we burned fossil fuels and released carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. A marked change in atmospheric carbon has always been incompatible with a stable earth. It was a feature of all five mass extinctions. In previous events, it had taken volcanic activity up to one million years to dredge up enough carbon from within the earth to trigger a catastrophe. By burning millions of years’ worth of living organisms all at once as coal and oil, we had managed to do so in less than 200.

The global air temperature had been relatively stable till the ’90s. But it now appeared this was only because the ocean was absorbing much of the excess heat, masking our impact. It was the first indication to me that the earth was beginning to lose its balance.

The most remote habitat of all exists at the extreme north and south of the planet. I’ve visited the polar regions over many decades. They’ve always been a place beyond imagination… with scenery unlike anything else on earth… and unique species adapted to a life in the extreme. But that distant world is changing. In my time, I’ve experienced the warming of Arctic summers. We have arrived at locations expecting to find expanses of sea ice and found none. We’ve managed to travel by boat to islands that were impossible to get to historically because they were permanently locked in the ice.

By the time Frozen Planet aired in 2011, the reasons for these changes was well established. The ocean has long since become unable to absorb all the excess heat caused by our activities.

As a result, the average global temperature today is one degree Celsius warmer than it was when I was born. A speed of change that exceeds any in the last 10,000 years. Summer sea ice in the Arctic has reduced by 40% in 40 years. Our planet is losing its ice. This most pristine and distant of ecosystems is headed for disaster.

Our imprint is now truly global. Our impact now is truly profound. Our blind assault on the planet has finally come to alter the very fundamentals of the living world.

We have overfished 30% of fish stocks to critical levels. We cut down over 15 billion trees each year.

By damming, polluting, and over-extracting rivers and lakes, we’ve reduced the size of freshwater populations by over 80%.

We’re replacing the wild with the tame. Half of the fertile land on earth is now farmland. 70% of the mass of birds on this planet are domestic birds. The vast majority, chickens. We account for over one-third of the weight of mammals on earth. A further 60% are the animals we raise to eat. The rest, from mice to whales, make up just 4%.

This is now our planet, run by humankind for humankind. There is little left for the rest of the living world.

Since I started filming in the 1950s, on average, wild animal populations have more than halved. I look at these images now and I realize that, although as a young man I felt I was out there in the wild experiencing the untouched natural world… it was an illusion. Those forests and plains and seas were already emptying.

So, the world is not as wild as it was. Well, we’ve destroyed it. Not just ruined it. I mean, we have completely… well, destroyed that world. That non-human world is gone. The human-beings have overrun the world.

That is my witness statement. A story of global decline during a single lifetime.

But it doesn’t end there. If we continue on our current course, the damage that has been the defining feature of my lifetime will be eclipsed by the damage coming in the next.

2020

WORLD POPULATION: 7.8 BILLION

CARBON IN ATMOSPHERE: 415 PARTS PER MILLION

REMAINING WILDERNESS: 35%

Science predicts that were I born today, I would be witness to the following.

2030s

The Amazon Rainforest, cut down until it can no longer produce enough moisture, degrades into a dry savannah, bringing catastrophic species loss… and altering the global water cycle.

At the same time, the Arctic becomes ice-free in the summer. Without the white ice cap, less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space. And the speed of global warming increases.

2040s

Throughout the north, frozen soils thaw, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, accelerating the rate of climate change dramatically.

2050s

As the ocean continues to heat and becomes more acidic, coral reefs around the world die. Fish populations crash.

2080s

Global food production enters a crisis as soils become exhausted by overuse. Pollinating insects disappear. [thunder rumbling] And the weather is more and more unpredictable.

2100s

Our planet becomes four degrees Celsius warmer. Large parts of the earth are uninhabitable. Millions of people rendered homeless. A sixth mass extinction event… is well underway. This is a series of one-way doors… bringing irreversible change. Within the span of the next lifetime, the security and stability of the Holocene, our Garden of Eden… will be lost.

UN Climate Change Conference, 2018

Right now, we’re facing a manmade disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. But the longer we leave it, the more difficult it’ll be to do something about it. And you could happily retire. But you now want to explain to us what peril we are in … and, in a way, I wish I wasn’t involved in this struggle. Because I wish the struggle wasn’t there or necessary. But I’ve had unbelievable luck and good fortune. I certainly would feel very guilty if I saw what the problems are and decided to ignore them.

Climbing over the tightly-packed bodies is the only way across the crowd. Those beneath can get crushed to death.

We are facing nothing less than the collapse of the living world. The very thing that gave birth to our civilization. The thing we rely upon for every element of the lives we lead. No one wants this to happen. None of us can afford for it to happen. So, what do we do? It’s quite straightforward. It’s been staring us in the face all along. To restore stability to our planet, we must restore its biodiversity. The very thing that we’ve removed. It’s the only way out of this crisis we have created. We must rewild the world.

Rewilding the world is simpler than you might think. And the changes we have to make will only benefit ourselves and the generations that follow. A century from now, our planet could be a wild place again. And I’m going to tell you how.

Every other species on Earth reaches a maximum population after a time. The number that can be sustained on the natural resources available. With nothing to restrict us, our population has been growing dramatically throughout my lifetime.

On current projections, there will be 11 billion people on Earth by 2100. But it’s possible to slow, even to stop population growth well before it reaches that point. Japan’s standard of living climbed rapidly in the latter half of the 20th century. As healthcare and education improved, people’s expectations and opportunities grew, and the birth rate fell. In 1950, a Japanese family was likely to have three or more children. By 1975, the average was two. The result is that the population has now stabilized and has hardly changed since the millennium. There are signs that this has started to happen across the globe. As nations develop everywhere, people choose to have fewer children. The number of children being born worldwide every year is about to level off. A key reason the population is still growing is because many of us are living longer. At some point in the future, the human population will peak for the very first time. The sooner it happens, the easier it makes everything else we have to do.

By working hard to raise people out of poverty, giving all access to healthcare, and enabling girls in particular to stay in school as long as possible, we can make it peak sooner and at a lower level.

Why wouldn’t we want to do these things? Giving people a greater opportunity of life is what we would want to do anyway. The trick is to raise the standard of living around the world without increasing our impact on that world. That may sound impossible, but there are ways in which we can do this.

The living world is essentially solar-powered. The earth’s plants capture three trillion kilowatt-hours of solar energy each day.

That’s almost 20 times the energy we need… just from sunlight. Imagine if we phase out fossil fuels and run our world on the eternal energies of nature too. Sunlight, wind, water and geothermal.

At the turn of the century, Morocco relied on imported oil and gas for almost all of its energy. Today, it generates 40% of its needs at home from a network of renewable power plants, including the world’s largest solar farm. Sitting on the edge of the Sahara, and cabled directly into southern Europe, Morocco could be an exporter of solar energy by 2050. Within 20 years, renewables are predicted to be the world’s main source of power. But we can make them the only source.

It’s crazy that our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuel… when these are the very things that are jeopardizing the future that we are saving for.

A renewable future will be full of benefits. Energy everywhere will be more affordable. Our cities will be cleaner and quieter. And renewable energy will never run out. The living world can’t operate without a healthy ocean and neither can we. The ocean is a critical ally in our battle to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The more diverse it is, the better it does that job.

And, of course, the ocean is important to all of us as a source of food. Fishing is world’s greatest wild harvest. And if we do it right, it can continue… because there’s a win-win at play. The healthier the marine habitat, the more fish there will be, and the more there will be to eat. Palau is a Pacific Island nation reliant on its coral reefs for fish and tourism. When fish stocks began to reduce, the Palauans responded by restricting fishing practices and banning fishing entirely from many areas. Protected fish populations soon became so healthy, they spilt over into the areas open to fishing. As a result, the “no fish” zones have increased the catch of the local fishermen, while at the same time allowing the reefs to recover. Imagine if we committed to a similar approach across the world. Estimates suggest that “no fish” zones over a third of our coastal seas would be sufficient to provide us with all the fish we will ever need. In international waters, the UN is attempting to create the biggest “no fish” zone of all. In one act, this would transform the open ocean from a place exhausted by subsidized fishing fleets to a wilderness that will help us all in our efforts to combat climate change. The world’s greatest wildlife reserve. When it comes to the land, we must radically reduce the area we use to farm, so that we can make space for returning wilderness. And the quickest and most effective way to do that is for us to change our diet.

Large carnivores are rare in nature because it takes a lot of prey to support each of them. For every single predator on the Serengeti, there are more than 100 prey animals. Whenever we choose a piece of meat, we too are unwittingly demanding a huge expanse of space.

The planet can’t support billions of large meat-eaters. There just isn’t the space.

If we all had a largely plant-based diet, we would need only half the land we use at the moment.

And because we would be then dedicated to raising plants, we could increase the yield of this land substantially.

The Netherlands is one of the world’s most densely-populated countries. It’s covered with small family-run farms with no room for expansion. So, Dutch farmers have become expert at getting the most out of every hectare. Increasingly, they’re doing so sustainably. Raising yields tenfold in two generations while at the same time using less water, fewer pesticides, less fertilizer and emitting less carbon. Despite its size, the Netherlands is now the world’s second largest exporter of food.

It’s entirely possible for us to apply both low-tech and hi-tech solutions to produce much more food from much less land.

We can start to produce food in new spaces. Indoors, within cities. Even in places where there’s no land at all. As we improve our approach to farming, we’ll start to reverse the land-grab that we’ve been pursuing ever since we began to farm, which is essential because we have an urgent need for all that free land.

Forests are a fundamental component of our planet’s recovery. They are the best technology nature has for locking away carbon. And they are centers of biodiversity. Again, the two features work together. The wilder and more diverse forests are, the more effective they are at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.

We must immediately halt deforestation everywhere… and grow crops like oil palm and soya only on land that was deforested long ago. After all, there’s plenty of it.

But we can do better than that.

A century ago, more than three quarters of Costa Rica was covered with forest. By the 1980s, uncontrolled logging had reduced this to just one quarter. The government decided to act, offering grants to landowners to replant native trees. In just 25 years, the forest has returned to cover half of Costa Rica once again. [birds chirping] Just imagine if we achieve this on a global scale.

The return of the trees would absorb as much as two thirds of the carbon emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by our activities to date.

With all these things, there is one overriding principle. Nature is our biggest ally and our greatest inspiration. We just have to do what nature has always done. It worked out the secret of life long ago. In this world, a species can only thrive… when everything else around it thrives, too. We can solve the problems we now face by embracing this reality. If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us. It’s now time for our species to stop simply growing. To establish a life on our planet in balance with nature. To start to thrive.

When you think about it, we’re completing a journey. Ten thousand years ago, as hunter-gatherers, we lived a sustainable life because that was the only option. All these years later, it’s once again the only option. We need to rediscover… how to be sustainable. To move from being ‘apart’ from nature to becoming ‘a part’ of nature once again. Tonight, we’ve got a rather different program for you.

If we can change the way we live on Earth, an alternative future comes into view. In this future, we discover ways to benefit from our land that help, rather than hinder, wilderness. Ways to fish our seas that enable them to come quickly back to life. And ways to harvest our forests sustainably. We will finally learn how to work with nature rather than against it.

In the end, after a lifetime’s exploration of the living world, I’m certain of one thing. This is not about saving our planet… it’s about saving ourselves.

The truth is, with or without us, the natural world will rebuild. In the 30 years since the evacuation of Chernobyl, the wild has reclaimed the space.

Today, the forest has taken over the city. It’s a sanctuary for wild animals that are very rare elsewhere. And powerful evidence that however grave our mistakes, nature will ultimately overcome them. The living world will endure. We humans cannot presume the same. We’ve come this far because we are the smartest creatures that have ever lived. But to continue, we require more than intelligence. We require wisdom.

There are many differences between humans and the rest of the species on earth, but one that has been expressed is that we alone are able to imagine the future. For a long time, I and perhaps you have dreaded that future. But it’s now becoming apparent that it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s a chance for us to make amends, to complete our journey of development, manage our impact, and once again become a species in balance with nature. All we need is the will to do so. We now have the opportunity to create the perfect home for ourselves, and restore the rich, healthy, and wonderful world that we inherited. Just imagine that!

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice for the Truth? For peace?

As the year ends and a new year begins at this most urgent of times, we must ask ourselves what kind of world we want and what will bring out the best that we can be. It is in our answers and actions that we will find hope in 2022. 

Humanity has a great capacity for choice to be a moral protector and defender, instead of a predator, and this is a choice we all have.  Humans are a unique part of the animal kingdom as homo sapiens because we have a conscience, but history has shown that peace is not our natural state.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the aspirational Nobel Peace Prize to people with courage, creativity and curiosity that inspire us, who take early steps toward furthering the cause of peace in the world.  The award has generated global fascination, but it has also caused controversy over selections of laureates who later chose the path away from peace. 

For the first time in more than 80 years, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Dmitry Muratov from Russia and Maria Ressa from the Philippines for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression and information, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace by helping to ensure an informed public. 

Dmitry Muratov is the founder of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Maria Ressa is the founder of Philippine news website Rappler, and both have been the object of ridicule, harassment, threats and violence as a result of their work, but both feel it has been worth the struggle. Maria Ressa has been arrested 10x.  

Muratova and Ressa believe in free, independent and fact-based journalism that serves to protect against the abuse of power, lies and war propaganda, and are critical of the use of violence and growing authoritarianism in their native countries. The Nobel Peace Prize award spotlights the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights which are vital prerequisites for democracy, and protect against war and conflict. 

Muratov described journalists as an antidote against tyranny, “Yes, we growl and bite. Yes, we have sharp teeth and a strong grip. But we are the prerequisite for progress. We are the antidote against tyranny.” He tells us that journalism in Russia is going through a dark valley. “Over a hundred journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders and NGOs have recently been branded as ‘foreign agents’. In Russia, this means ‘enemies of the people’.”

Ressa shared a dire assessment of the media industry, saying “the era of competition for news is dead.” And she directed an intense and profound message to technology companies …

“Our greatest need today is to transform the hate and violence, the toxic sludge that is coursing through our information ecosystem, prioritised by US internet companies that make money by spreading that hate, and triggering the worst in us.”

“The accelerant is technology when creative destruction takes on new meaning. We are standing on the rubble of the world that was and we must have the foresight and courage to imagine what could happen.  Technology, the new gatekeepers, have god-like power which allows the virus of lies to infect each of us, pitting us against  each other, bringing out our fears, anger and  hate, and setting the stage for the rise of  authoritarians and dictators across the world.”

“What happens in Social Media does not stay on Social Media.  Online violence is real world violence. Social Media is a deadly game for power and money, what Shoshana Zuboff calls surveillance capitalism, extracting our private lives for outsized corporate gain. Our personal experiences are sucked into a database, organized by AI, then sold to the highest bidder. Highly profitable micro-targeting operations are engineered to structurally undermine human will. A behavior modification system in which we are all Pavlov’s dogs, experimented on in real time with disastrous consequences in many countries. These destructive corporations have siphoned money away from news organizations and now they pose a foundational threat to markets and elections.

“Facebook (renamed Metha by Zuckerburg, in what appears to be an attempt to rebrand the company to move attention away from the so-called Facebook papers – documents, leaked by a former Facebook employee, revealed how Facebook ignored or downplayed internal warnings about the negative and often harmful consequences its social network algorithms created or magnified across the world) is the world’s largest distributor of news, and their studies have shown that lies laced with anger and hate spread faster and further than facts. These American companies controlling our global information ecosystem are biased against facts, biased against journalists. They are, by design, dividing us and radicalizing us.”

“Impunity must stop and to HOLD THE LINE, we have to know what values we are fighting for.  Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without trust, we have no shared reality, no democracy, and it becomes impossible to deal with the existential problems of our times: climate, coronavirus, now, the battle for truth. To do that, you have to ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice for the truth.” 

“The destruction has already happened — now it is time to build … to create the world we want. We have to make it happen…a world of peace, trust and empathy, bringing out the best that we can be. In order to be ‘the good’, we have to BELIEVE THERE IS GOOD IN THE WORLD.

So what can we do?   Ressa tells us, “It begins by restoring facts and shifting social priorities to rebuild journalism for the 21st century while regulating and outlawing the surveillance economics that profit from hate and lies. We need to help independent journalism survive by giving greater protection to journalists and standing up against states which target journalists and addressing the advertising model of journalism.  Second, journalists must engage in technology designed to build communities of action. The north star is not profit alone … its FACTS, TRUTH AND TRUST. Please let’s hold the line TOGETHER.

Maria Ressa’s profound message especially resonated with NOW.  From the start, we have prioritised  FACTS, TRUTH and TRUST, and built a technology platform that boldly advances sustainability with accountability and transparency in tourism. NOW is also a media platform and we have chosen to have a vital role in society to educate and reveal what is true and untrue around sustainability, carbon zero pledges, carbon offsets, greenwash and bigotry in travel and tourism, to balance how people can debate and share different opinions without polarizing the debate.

It must be NOW!

14 Gifts that Do More and Do Better

As 2021 ends and 2022 begins, the lessons learned from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergencies, the global crisis of trust that divides us, and the urgent need to lead a low carbon lifestyle has made us more conscious of the need to act NOW, to do more and to do better.

Here are 14 gift ideas that support the Global Goals including four of the most popular gifts from last year. Be inspired by the founders and creators who are genuinely making a difference to people and the planet by committing to sustainability with accountability and transparency. This yuletide season and in the coming year, choose thoughtful and personal gifts that will delight loved ones, bring joy to countless others, and raise the bar on the spirit of giving that consciously creates a better world. 

SEP JORDAN – A gift that brings back dignity and pride

Blending Italian style with the finest Middle-Eastern craftsmanship that represent the artist’s roots and heritage, the SEP Jordan collection aims to bring back dignity, economic independence and pride to refugee camps in Jordan, and change perception of refugees, one stitch at a time.  SEP Jordan’s founder Roberta Ventura is a strong believer and advocate of refugees’ right to employment, education and empowerment – the key instruments to reach confidence, determination and self-sufficiency.

 Each exquisite piece in SEP Jordan’s collection is hand-embroidered with care and signed by the artist who created it using top quality materials without harmful chemicals and respect the environment and human beings.  Raw materials are imported from Italy to Jordan’s Jerash  “Gaza” refugee camp where over 500 embroidery women artists reside and craft the artisanal needle-art work. They are  paid weekly at 50% more than  market rates for each creation they produce, allowing them to earn a living & provide for their families and community.  Purchase from SEP Jordan HERE.

CUDDLE+KIND – A gift to help children thrive 

Jen, Derek, Ethan, Brooke and Rachel Woodgate are a family of five on a mission to help feed children in need. They started Cuddle+Kind after watching a heartbreaking documentary about childhood hunger and learned that 66 million primary school-aged children attend classes hungry every day and 45%of deaths in children under five are caused by poor nutrition. Giving meals helps children fight disease, develop cognitively, receive an education, perform better in school, earn more as an adult, break the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential to thrive. 

For every CUDDLE+KIND doll sold, they give 10 meals to children through organizations Children’s Hunger Fund and UN World Food Program which considers hunger “one of the most solvable problems that face the world today”.  The dolls are ethically produced and lovingly handcrafted by talented artisans in Peru and Nepal to empower over 1,000 women with fair trade income and help improve communities. They are stylish and oh-so loveable, super soft and cuddly, hand-knit with premium natural cotton, heirloom quality, tested and certified non toxic, meets or exceeds safety standards, and doing good with a signature 10 meal wristband. Purchase Cuddle&Kind Dolls HERE

HAND-IN-HAND BAR SOAP – A gift towards good health and wellbeing

We all know by now how important it is to wash your hands in order to stay healthy, but not everyone knows that nearly half of the 5 million children who die from water-related illnesses each year could have survived by washing their hands. Founders Bill Glaab and Courtney Apple believe that more is more. In addition to their Buy One & Give Back program, they also partner with two incredible organizations – Eco Soap Bank and My Neighbour’s Children –  to deepen their impact at the community level by installing and repairing clean water wells, and recycling and distributing leftover hotel soap to help mitigate water-related deaths around the globe. 

Soap bars and lotions in delicious scents of cactus blossom, lavender, citrus grove and sea salt  are crafted with organic shea and cocoa butters to leave skin soft, nourished and refreshingly clean. All Hand in Hand ingredients are 100% vegan and never derived from or tested on animals. The founder’s refusal to use palm oil reflects their commitment to protect rainforest ecosystems and endangered species from deforestation and destruction. When you buy a bar of soap, you also give a bar to children in need. Purchase from Hand-in-Hand HERE.

VIEW how re-using hotel soaps change lives HERE. 

KASBAH DE TOUBKAL – A gift to stay can educate a girl

A role model for how sustainable tourism can be a Force for Good, Kasbah du Toubkal is a mountain retreat located in the village of Imlil in the Toubkal National Park, and set dramatically in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco.  Found in complete ruin in 1989 by two British brothers – Chris and Mike McHugo – they rebuilt the centuries old castle into a unique retreat that stayed true to the heritage of the destination and Berber culture with their Moroccan partner. Today, trekking packages for curious travellers and adventurers can include stays at their Trekking Lodge, and the ascent of Mount Toubkal can include a riad or hotel stay in Marrakech and Essaouira, and even a stay in the Agafay desert. 

The ethos of the Kasbah du Toubkal and its local Berber team is to offer an authentic and inclusive local experience and support local community projects and a charity – Education For All Morocco (EFA). EFA provides girls from rural communities in the High Atlas mountain region with safe, nurturing and well equipped boarding homes so they can have the opportunity of a secondary and college education. EFA believes that everyone has the right to an education, and that if you educate a girl, you educate the next generation as well. View and directly book Kasbah du Toubkal HERE.

Little Sun – Gift the power of the sun

What started as a humble idea to create a small, portable solar lamp for people without electricity in Ethiopia is now a global project that has changed over two million lives through the awesome power of the sun. Designed by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, the Little Sun is a work of art that affect change in the everyday lives of people across the globe, providing a way to live independently outside the electrical grid system. Little Sun’s social business brings clean, reliable, affordable energy to the 1.1 billion people in the world living without electricity while raising awareness for energy access and climate action worldwide.

Gift a Little Sun or a Little Sun Solar Charge, and they will deliver one to a person living off-the-grid at a much lower, locally affordable price. On the ground, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, they work with local entrepreneurs to create local jobs and to bring the power of the sun to everyone.  Purchase from the Little Sun Shop HERE

TOMS – A gift for grassroots good

Rooted in earth-friendly materials and processes, TOMS shoes, apparel and accessories are cosy and fun, and also stocks a vegan and a sustainable ‘Earthwise’ collection.  

Its founder Blake Mycoskie believed in a future where all people have the chance to thrive and created TOMS (inspired by the word ’tomorrow’) to be in business to improve lives.  Today, TOMS is committed to give 1/3 of their profits for grassroots good, supporting people building equity at the local level, and driving progress from the ground up. For every £3 they make, they give £1 away. Purchase from TOMS Shop HERE

Genghis Khan Retreat – A gift to stay can preserve a nomadic culture 

Located within Mongolia’s Orkhon Valley, a national park in the Övörkhangai Region of Central Mongolia, Genghis Khan Retreat is a Force for Good and beyond-the-expected summer retreat in a vast remoteness with purpose. Owned by the inspiring Giercke Family, it is their purpose to help secure the preservation of the traditional Mongolian nomadic culture and improve the quality of life for their Mongol family and community for a sustainable future.

It was the summer place for Genghis Khan and his army, 25km west of the historic capital of the Mongol Empire Kharkhorin. Unspoilt panoramic views of beautiful rolling hills with a river gracefully snaking into the distance below and granite formations from previous volcanic activity surround this spectacular place. Genghis Khan Retreat offer luxurious comfort in the wilderness in traditional Mongolian style ‘gers’ made from local materials: wood from forests, yak felt insulation from local livestock, horse hair for rope, camel leather to bind; specially crafted beds and furniture, wood-burning stoves and high-quality cashmere blankets. Guests can connect with nature while exploring the steep on horse riding expeditions, kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking in rugged and breath-taking landscapes with local Nomad guides. View and directly book Genghis Khan Retreat HERE.

ZERO WASTE STARTER KIT – A gift for the aspiring zero-waster 

Everything needed to kickstart a zero waste and plastic free journey and a new lifestyle! With the items in this kit, say ’See Ya, Au Revoir and Arrivederci’ to grocery bags, disposable snack bags/ ziplocs, plastic cling wrap, synthetic loofah and sponges, plastic dish brushes, single-use cotton rounds, takeout utensils and more. 

The average person produces 4.4 lbs. of trash every day and with pollution and waste on the rise, it is vital to make small steps towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. We can do this by making small, everyday changes in our habits and routines to cut out single-use plastics. Zero Waste MVMT partnered with onetreeplanted.org, and made it their goal to help plant trees with every purchase and promote reforestation globally.  Purchase Zero Waste Starter Kit HERE

FORESTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS – Gift a tree instead of useless stuff 

Imagine how many trees could be planted if everyone on the planet gave a tree instead of more useless stuff. Forests Without Frontiers is doing their part to restore nature and aim to plant one million trees by 2025.  Founded by Nicoleta Carpineanu, a Romanian artist and environmental activist, a DJ and producer of music and film under the name Nico de Transilvania, she is using music and arts to engage with reforestation and restoring eco-systems. 

Gift a tree to everyone you know, love and like. Gifting a tree with Forests Without Frontiers means  you are helping to protect existing areas of ancient forest and the people and wildlife they nurture, to restore degraded land and to rebuild essential wildlife corridors and help support ecosystems.  Support Forests Without Frontiers HERE

GROUNDTRUTH – Gift cutting-edge travel bags that reuse plastic waste

‘People, Planet and Performance’ is at the heart of their philosophy when Georgia, Nina and Sophia Scott founded GROUNDTRUTH to make problem-solving travel bags and expedition equipment that helps the environment and drive positive change in the fashion and manufacturing industry.  They work with  family-run manufacturers in Jakarta with exemplary attitude towards worker wellbeing and sustainability. 

Face-to-face experiences with extreme environments caused by climate change and excessive plastic waste inspired the creation of useful, high-performance bags and accessories that harness cutting-edge technologies with plenty of cool functions for the extreme outdoors and city life. Aspiring and ultimate explorers, and device lovers will love the RIKR technical tote which reuses 80 plastic bottles or the RIKR 24L high-performance backpack which reuses 120 plastic bottles, the expedition gear tested by the legendary polar explorer Robert Swan, the first person in history to walk to the North and South Pole.  Visit GoundTruth Shop HERE

CONSCIOUS STEP SOCKS – Gifts to wear what they believe in

Conscious Step was founded in 2013 by Prashant Mehta (a finance professional), Hassan Ahmad (a medical doctor) and Adam Long (an industrial designer) who were concerned with the lack of awareness and the gravity of issues faced by their generation. Today, Conscious Step exists to work with those who make great strides with modern day issues, while empowering generations to take conscious steps in their everyday lives, and to learn and educate it’s customers about the values of ethical manufacturing.

Great for those who don’t take their footwear too seriously, Conscious Step socks are cozy and ultra-soft, and made of organic, non-gmo, Fairtrade Certified cotton with packaging from recycled materials. Wear what you believe in … each pair of socks sold donates $1 to empower nonprofit  organisations and support the causes and communities you care about. Each design corresponds to a different charity – socks with keys help build houses, socks with dogs support the Best Friends Animal Society and socks with waves help to restore oceans. There are socks that beat childhood cancer, conserve rainforests, educate kids, empower women, fight for equality, plant trees, prevent breast cancer, protect endangered animals. provide disaster relief, provide water, provide meals, restore oceans, save lgbtq lives, support mental health, and treat HIV. Purchase Conscious Step Socks HERE

THE ELEPHANT PROJECT –  A gift to save elephants

The Elephant Project founder – Kristina McKean – was devastated to witness baby elephants on the streets of Bangkok being exploited for money, and was outraged at the abusive treatment of elephants in American circuses. After years spent signing petitions, protesting circuses, and creating social media campaigns to help spread awareness surrounding the mistreatment of elephants, Kristina felt propelled to save elephants, one stuffed animal at a time. 

100% of net proceeds from your purchase of the cuddly and adorable Kiki (meaning ‘new life’), Tembo (meaning ‘elephant’ in Swahili), and Oba (meaning ‘King Ruler’ in West Africa) will support organisations that help aid in fighting the poaching crisis and also provide care to injured, abandoned, orphaned, and abused elephants – The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. In many cultures, an elephant is seen as a ‘bringer of good luck’. In many African cultures, the elephant is a symbol of royalty, power, wisdom, and success.  Purchase from The Elephant Shop HERE

JANA ARNHOLD’S PHOTOGRAPHY 

Jana Arnhold’s photography is a medium through which she shares her deep appreciation for the natural world, in the hopes of inspiring the robust protection and respect that we as humans surely owe her. She believes that we are not lost within the wilderness, we are lost without it.

View and purchase a selection of limited edition prints HERE of intimate moments with some of Africa’s most iconic and endangered creatures; and vast, wild and incredibly diverse protected areas on the African Continent.  And for a limited time before Christmas, an Open Edition Sale of prints can be purchased HERE.  Celebrate the natural world and 20% of all profits will be donated to Conservancy Guardians

In 2015, Jana and her partner Nic founded In The Wild, a wildlife adventure travel company offering tailor made adventures to share authentic wilderness experiences, astonishing wildlife encounters and meaningful cultural interactions with people that dream of Africa. In May 2020, they founded Conservancy Guardians when the pandemic devastated tourism and continue to do so with grave ongoing impact on wildlife areas and their surrounding communities. Conservancy Guardians sheds light on the need for a broadening, holistic approach in community support and engagement when it comes to answering the long-term conservation questions in East Africa to nurture the ecosystem, to empower the people and to protect the wildlife.

300 seconds with Hugh Somerleyton

Hugh Somerleyton is the owner of Somerleyton Estate in North Suffolk and a regenerative farmer, a rewilder, a conservationist, a trail runner, a wild swimmer and an agitator for change. He founded WildEast Foundation to make a decisive impact across the East Anglia region to re-educate, restore and reconnect people and nature to ensure sustainable abundance and greener lives. He is also the creator of successful brands Dish Dash and Hot Chip. 

One word that describes you?  

Wild!

What is your personal indulgence?  

Weekend FT

Global scientists tell us that 1.5°C (34.7°F) above pre-industrial level is the absolute ‘red line in the sand’ before we enter a one-way road to “irreversible destruction” … that Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is too late and we must put a brake on carbon this decade.  What are your most inspiring climate actions? Are you committing to Net Zero carbon emissions or better before 2030?

Yes, as a family business we are fascinated by the emerging metrics (not all consistent!) of measuring carbon and are committed to becoming a net importer of carbon. We are also beginning to work with our clients and community to consider carbon, waste and bio-diversity as the norm.

Given that the current economic crisis was triggered by a public-health crisis, what changes should we expect from travelers and the tourism industry that should persist long into the future?

Most travelers simply export their home lives to somewhere hot and absorb either no culture or a synthetic parody. The most worldly-wise travelers I ever knew lived a mile from my house, both centurions, they never went further than Norwich – I think the pandemic has helped us appreciate and recognize we don’t need to be so indulgent with travel. I hope this persists together with travel that supports sustainability and endangered communities (animal and human)

How is your company supporting the Global Goals (also known as Sustainable Development Goals)?

God, it’s hard enough surviving in business post pandemic BUT for me, learning from & educating the leaders in my team and our clients is our primary short term goal with driving the business to being carbon neutral and naturally sustainable – the ‘normalization’ of these characteristics is a real challenge in our neighborhood. I hope to engage with more of the goals as we mature as a business. We have a WildEast education facility being developed which I hope will set many local kids on the road of compromise and coexistence.

During travel, what companies (airline/train/bus/ship, hotels, restaurants and brand boutiques) are you loyal to? Which ones are committed to accountable sustainability? Which ones are doing little to none?

Honestly I don’t travel a huge amount but I am loyal to Soho House and refer to Juliet Kinsman’s insta for inspiration. We are beginning to invest time in researching experiences around ecotourism like Nature Trek and the trusty weekend FT is increasingly reliable unearthing operators taking ‘planet saving’ seriously.

What are your thoughts on carbon offsetting? Do you offset your air and ground travel carbon emissions?

The trouble with off-setting is it also tends to offset any sense of liability/responsibility so doesn’t stimulate behaviour change. I think the first step is a really fun/engaging APP that helps us all understand and measure carbon and from there to positive behavioral change is the urgent global need.

What would you say to those that do little to nothing for the good of communities and the environment?  

It must be NOW and FOREVER that you join the global planet saving community and as Sir David Attenborough coined ‘record your witness statement’.

A great reset is anticipated post Covid-19.  What do you personally need to reset?   What 3 changes must happen NOW to get people to change attitudes and behaviour?

We need to retain the grand alliance we saw in the pandemic – we have proved we can act in global solidarity – we HAVE to continue this trajectory to have any hope, across gov’t, politics, nations, communities – it might just be THE FIRST and ONLY human endeavor that effects and needs us all to work as one – for Mother Earth.

We must spend, spend, spend on messaging – it cannot be left to the annual lovebomb from Sir David – insurers and big business need to recognise the role of advertising in group behavioural change.

Change religion – Mother Earth is the only one – pray for her!

The UK and EU have passed the Carbon Laws. Should governments make Net Zero carbon emissions mandatory before 2030 for individuals and companies? What should the incentives and penalties be?

I think penalties need to be as much about public shaming as money – companies generally fear reputation over fines. Incentives I think should reflect the same – I am unconvinced companies over a certain size should benefit from subsidies – the money needs to go to those smaller companies and poorer households. We need climate heroes – the new superheroes to lead and inspire.

What is your personal favorite place to stay that’s rigorous, accountable and transparent around sustainability with no greenwash allowed?

I need to think on this – one day Fritton Lake but right now – probably almost any small European agro-tourism camp/hotel immediately springs to mind – they are miles ahead.

 What ‘cause’ are you leading or involved in? What drives your passion? And what are your bold actions that are driving change?

WildEast is, I think, ‘Britain’s first regional scale multi sector planet saving alliance’  but also an accreditation scheme and education. We are just over one year old and have a big heart but it is my primary cause. I would like it to be a regional exemplar – returning 20% of the ‘nature need’ to the wild 250,000 ha over 50 years (or much quicker) driven by desperate anxiety and desire to make an impact. I think the WildEast Map of Dreams is our primary bold action – a place where all sectors, peoples – can record their own planet saving story to inspire cross sector alliance.

Who is your greatest influence? What legacy would you like to leave behind from your leadership?

Paul Lister Founder of The European Nature Trust– honest agitator par excellence and indefatigable! Well, perhaps that WildEast lit the way to help create the most regenerative and eco-restored region of UK full of people who have learnt to coexist and compromise (with Mother Nature) and a flagship brand for all of us out here to hold up to the mirror and say we were there – we did this together…that would be cool.

Best advice you have been given?  

Don’t be so broad minded your brain falls out – I really suffer from this! But remembering it helps keep focus.

Your best advice to young generations concerned about their future? 

Stay positive, agitate for change, demand more of your elders but also do more – we have all become too expectant – this one is about everyone – no hiding places.