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Costa Rica

Our Nature First Plan

What does putting nature first mean?

As a business, we want to ensure that everything we do to create and run our trips not only reduces any negative impacts on natural ecosystems, but proactively seeks to restore nature. Travel still leaves a footprint – through carbon emissions, waste, pollution, and ecosystem exploitation. We seek to remove and reduce these negative impacts and outweigh them with our efforts to restore nature wherever possible. Putting nature first is the philosophy by which we operate our business, rather than a static goal or target.

Why are we taking a nature first approach?

Humans have wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970*, 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction** and 75% of our world’s land-based environment has been significantly altered by human actions**. The climate crisis and biodiversity collapse interlink with each other– climate change accelerates the degradation of natural ecosystems, and in turn, degraded ecosystems weaken our defences against the worst impacts of climate change.

We all have a responsibility not only to reduce our negative impacts on the natural world but also to proactively seek to restore the ecosystems on which we rely for our future survival.

How we developed our nature first approach

Our approach and the actions we take are informed by the five established impact areas set out by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The IPBES framework helps us to identify actions to take. Specifically, activities to:

Avoid:

1. Highly emitting trip types, e.g. big cruise, big tour groups

2. Accommodation with high environmental footprint

3. Damaging wildlife interactions or animal practices · ecosystem exploitation

4. Distribution of any single-use plastics to clients on trips

5. Landfill across offices reduce

Reduce:

1. carbon in our operations (aligned with Science Based Target).

2. Increase plant-based meals and engage with local suppliers to do the same.

3. Reduce food waste in directly provided meals.

4. Engage with accommodation suppliers re. pollution and waste reduction.

5. Reduce nights in over-exploited destinations

Restore, regenerate and transform:

1. Rewild 100 square metres per passenger and expand support for rewilding.

2. Restore and protect marine ecosystems and contribute to the removal and storage of tonnes of carbon.

3. Increase and diversify the way in which our itineraries support local conservation efforts.

It’s a continuous journey

Increasing the positive impact we can have on nature will be a continuous journey; one that we’ve already started by offering trips which support the protection and regeneration of nature, and one which we recognise we’ll be on for years and decades to come. We’re adopting a growth mindset, constantly seeking to improve and make a positive difference in our destinations.

As part of this journey, we have set goals to help focus and accelerate our efforts. More information on our key initiatives and activities can be found below:

References

Our Nature First approach has been informed by a number of bodies and experts developing sector and cross-sector targets, metrics and guidance in this area.

Our definitions of tourism’s negative impact areas are based on IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)’s “drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem change” and the Council for Sustainable Business’s Nature Handbook.

The targets and metrics have been informed by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s proposed indicators, and the principles of our plan (to avoid, reduce and restore) were informed by the SBTN’s initial guidance for business (see the full list of references below).

We have also gratefully benefitted from the input of some expert critical friends, including Justin Francis (Responsible Travel, Council for Sustainable Business) and our partners at Rewilding Europe.

We don’t have all the answers yet and recognise we have a big challenge ahead, but we’re committed to keeping you updated on our progress towards putting Nature First. We also welcome your comments, ideas, and questions: Sustainablity@exodustravels.com

* WWF Living Planet Report 2018

** IPS Special Report – IPBES Compilation for UN Nature Summit 2020