On 2nd and 3rd June the 24th Sustainability Hackathon Vol. III took place and I was lucky enough to be part of this collaborative network of experts and students. This year’s hackathon was under the motto Regenerate Now and celebrated the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and World Environment Day 2021. The aim of the hackathon was to discuss how the tourism industry can be not only sustainable but go a step further by actively supporting society and nurturing the environment.
Some of the main topics discussed during the presentations of the experts were: regenerative travel; how the travel industry can comply with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and what are their limitations; and how biodiversity and animal welfare interlink with the tourism industry.
Amanda Ho, the co-founder of the online travel platform Regenerative Travel, said: “A regenerative approach thinks of travel and tourism as a healing force and a change agent to revitalize human and natural ecosystems”. If, post-pandemic, the travel industry returns to what it was, it would be degenerative. Furthermore, nowadays we have reached a point that, as the CEO of The Long Run, Dr. Delphine Malleret King, said: “No harm is not enough”. The tourism industry must be not only green and sustainable, but actively regenerative. What I understood from the experts is that the secret behind being a regenerative business lays in the mindset. You cannot be regenerative by thinking short-term and business-as-usual like. The profitability of a business should not be measured only by the economic bottom line but other aspects as well – the environment and society should have at least an equal weight. Regenerative means a cathedral-thinking time scale and a mindset which constantly strives towards improvement in terms of environmental preservation, social responsibility, culture heritage conservation, responsible consumption, etc.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the United Nations aim to contribute towards the prosperity of people and the planet. In the presentation Sustainability and the SDGs: a match made in heaven or hell? Prof. Frans Melissen outlined that even though the SDGs are the best tool currently available, they are still a compromise since their foundation is in the current system. The founder of REGEN, Marina Laurent, also added that the main issues with the SDGs are that they are problem-oriented and focused on simply doing “less harm”. Also, it is very often the case that the achievement of one SDG is based on the sacrifice of another. Here is why the experts are calling for a drastic change in the system.
Throughout the hackathon the experts mentioned numerous examples of businesses and organisations which were truly inspiring. Some examples were connected to regenerative resorts and destinations; how nowadays cacao is mainly being grown as a monoculture that leads to damage of the ecosystem but if agroforestry methods were being used, cacao production could actually contribute to the biodiversity and ecological balance in the jungle; how elephant camps should be following the 5 freedoms of animal welfare and how tiny forests can improve the carbon footprint and residents’ well-being in the cities. More insights from the hackathon can be found in the final report.
It’s highly motivating to be part of the movement towards a regenerative tourism industry. We at Glamping Advisors are also committed to creating a more sustainable future for tourism. Follow us on LinkedIn for updates or stay tuned on our webpage for more information regarding sustainable practices.