I recently returned from the World Conservation Congress (hosted by the IUCN) in Jeju, South Korea after making two major presentations on Eco Travel and Sustainable Tourism. These talks were very well received and the Congress at large was successful in putting nature back to center stage as the solution to solving a growing list of economic and social issues. As Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN, stated, the Congress “demonstrated how nature-based solutions, as expressed in the Congress slogan “Nature+”, help us address many of our most pressing challenges.”
People, communities, governments and businesses are underutilizing the potential of nature and the solutions it provides – one of those certainly being eco-tourism. With over 10,000 participants and 5,000 conservation experts from 153 countries, the World Conservation Congress served as a platform for me to show how valuing and conserving nature can achieve a more prosperous and harmonious society. As economic difficulties continue to dominate international debate and the demand for sustainable tourism continues to grow, my presentations focused on best practices to develop eco-travel destinations in fragile areas, creating income opportunities for local people and preserving natural resources and heritage. With the help of a team of very adept interns, I led a group of educators, scientists, ecologically conscious business minds, government envoys, and many others in developing a guideline of necessary steps to ensure the smallest ecological footprint while providing eco-tourists with a comfortable atmosphere to learn about and partake in the local conservation efforts. We are especially pleased to welcome into this discussion the new IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng, who is a devoted advocate for environmental protection and sustainable development.
My participation in the World Conservation Conference was in honor of Maxine McCloskey, environmentalist, whale saver and wife of Michael McCloskey, Sierra Club.
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