On September 27, tourism organizations, businesses, and NGOs will gather for the third annual World Tourism Day Forum in Washington, DC, hosted by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and the Organization of American States. Impact Tourism: Giving Time, Talent, and Treasure, being held at the United States Institute of Peace, will focus on successful travel giving programs for a wide range of business and destination types, sharing best practices and inspiring stories of impact. Recognizing that “doing good” does not always mean “doing right,” the forum will also examine the downsides of inappropriately implemented travel giving and voluntourism programs.
Giving back to the environment will be a key focus at this year’s World Tourism Day Forum, with businesses and organizations like Intrepid Travel, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and others sharing how their travel programs can positively impact our planet’s finite resources. But what about environmental impacts of the event itself? Is it possible to share these important lessons while also mitigating the waste and carbon generated when you bring a global audience of 200 people into one room?
The World Tourism Day Forum’s hosts believe it is critical to reduce the environmental impacts of conferences. “If we’re going to come together to talk about these issues, we have to be ‘walking the walk’ at the event itself,” said Samantha Bray, CREST’s Managing Director.
From housing the forum at a LEED Gold-certified building to using 100% recycled and recyclable programs, every step of this year’s planning process was undertaken with sustainability in mind.
Here are three major sustainability strategies being used at the 2019 World Tourism Day Forum:
- Food waste reduction: WWF’s Food Waste team worked with the hosts to make the forum a reduced waste event, with a focus on landfill diversion (composting), food recovery, and food waste prevention. The event will be catered by Seasons Culinary Services, which works to minimize plastic, reduce waste, and use organic and local products for all events.
- Carbon offsetting: CREST and the OAS worked with sponsor CarbonFund.org to calculate the carbon footprint from event operations and participant travel, making this a carbon-neutral event. The offset will go towards the New Bedford Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project in Massachusetts, supporting the production of clean electricity while also reducing the amount of methane released into our atmosphere.
- Locally-owned businesses: The World Tourism Day Forum features two small, locally-owned beer and wine sponsors. Bethel Height Vineyard was one of the first vineyards in Oregon to be certified “Salmon Safe” and was one of the founders of Oregon’s LIVE Certified Sustainable program. 3 Stars Brewing Company is located in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, DC, and was started by two home brewers who strive to collaborate with friends to source local ingredients. The transport of the beer and wine was also included in the carbon offset calculation.
There are still a few days to register for the September 27 event in Washington, DC. In-person and live-stream tickets are available here through September 23.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.