2.5 Understanding Sustainability: Biodiversity Feature

This case study will allow you to understand how biodiversity is negatively impacted by tourism activities and how we can better protect it.

Thinking of Biodiversity to Develop a More Sustainable Destination by Jorge Ventocilla

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand what biodiversity is and the effects that tourism inflicts on it, allowing you to uncover ways in which the industry can collaborate and measure its impact to reduce negative effects on biodiversity and protect it to develop more sustainable destinations.

Thinking of Biodiversity to Develop a More Sustainable Destination by Jorge Ventocilla

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand what biodiversity is and the effects that tourism inflicts on it, allowing you to uncover ways in which the industry can collaborate and measure its impact to reduce negative effects on biodiversity and protect it to develop more sustainable destinations.

Main Takeaways from this Case Study

  • The integrated collaboration and communication between science and policy are essential to advance in sustainability matters.
  • Creating awareness amongst travellers of their impact on the destination's biodiversity through educational information can help reduce negative effects.
  • To achieve a more sustainable future it's necessary to establish appropriate partnerships and indicators, e.g., the EU Ecolabel.

Summary

In this case study, Jorge Ventocilla, biodiversity specialist at the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, help us understand more about biodiversity, its importance, how we can think about it and where it correlates with tourism and our activities as an industry.

At the beginning of the interview, Jorge highlighted the equal importance of science and policy, as well as the imperative need for both disciplines to communicate with each other.  

Nick asked him how, as a scientist, he sees the evolution of considerations around climate change and the impact that it has had on biodiversity over the last 20 years. He also asked him where he thinks we are at today in terms of our ability to tackle that and actually deal with these issues at an industry level.

Jorge explained that something that came out of the Climate COP, is the recognition that the biodiversity and the climate fights cannot be fought separately, but that they need to be fought together as one. He mentioned that from the scientific point of view, it can sometimes be frustrating because the policy takes time to catch up with the scientific discoveries, which calls for knowledge to be brought into policy so that the latter can be more sustainable and suited to the objectives.

The conversation then shifted to how we can understand what biodiversity is and who it impacts, exploring also why it is important to consider it. Jorge emphasised the complexity of the term biodiversity, as it is a niche term. Nonetheless, it has a very specific definition that defines biodiversity at three levels:

  • Species. Pigeons and humans are different species.
  • Ecosystems. Mountains and lakes are different ecosystems, which at the same time are made up of the different species in them.
  • Genetic level. Although humans are the same species, each individual is very different genetically.

Biodiversity is the diversity of life and thus, it links to everything. Jorge noted that biodiversity has different cultural values for different societies and that it has implications for the economy on which we depend but also affects political priorities, quality of life, and the management of the natural environment.

Humans have a considerable negative impact on biodiversity, which relates to fragmentation and the intervention in the ecosystem. Whether intended or unintended, these have negative implications on biodiversity, which we need to be aware of, as these behaviours and their effects are much more complicated to correct than those related, for example, to climate change.

According to Jorge’s opinion, sustainability is considering biodiversity, society and economy in all our actions and decisions. He mentioned though, that the economy is mostly seen in political decisions, but the other two need to receive more attention because when we look at the bigger picture, the economy depends on the environment.

Nick then shifted the discussion towards the connection between biodiversity and tourism, to which Jorge answered with two key points. On the one hand, he mentioned that biodiversity is usually used as a selling point in the industry, thus, Jorge highlighted the importance of informing about the local biodiversity and creating awareness about it. On the other hand, he discussed a recent case in the South of Spain, where they were using data to know how many tourists can go to an area and what the best way to disperse them would be. In biodiversity, this relates to the concept of carrying capacity, which refers to the number of people that can be at a place without establishing pressure on natural resources. Jorge mentioned that in many instances this has a negative environmental impact on touristic areas which the industry could help solve by being more efficient through the use of energy, water and moving away from greenwashing.

The discussion then moved to the tools that the industry can make use of to take more direct action in order to address the issues related to biodiversity. Jorge started off by mentioning the EU Green Label but emphasised that there are a number of different verifications to review implications and standards. He recommended destinations to reduce the number of visitors in some instances, saying that less can turn out to be better for their biodiversity, which is what makes people want to visit other places.

"Established in 1992 and recognised across Europe and worldwide, the EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal. The EU Ecolabel promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and CO2 during the manufacturing process.
The EU Ecolabel criteria provide exigent guidelines for companies looking to lower their environmental impact and guarantee the efficiency of their environmental actions through third party controls." - European Commission.

To wrap up the session, the conclusion focused on how management and policy can help protect biodiversity. Jorge focused on indicators, which he explained we can exploit by coming up with a baseline and then discussing where we want to start and set objectives accordingly. He highlighted the importance of establishing the right partnerships, including specialists and experts, who can help measure the impacts and set the necessary actions.

Thinking of Biodiversity to Develop a More Sustainable Destination by Jorge Ventocilla

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand what biodiversity is and the effects that tourism inflicts on it, allowing you to uncover ways in which the industry can collaborate and measure its impact to reduce negative effects on biodiversity and protect it to develop more sustainable destinations.

Thinking of Biodiversity to Develop a More Sustainable Destination by Jorge Ventocilla

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand what biodiversity is and the effects that tourism inflicts on it, allowing you to uncover ways in which the industry can collaborate and measure its impact to reduce negative effects on biodiversity and protect it to develop more sustainable destinations.

Main Takeaways from this Case Study

  • The integrated collaboration and communication between science and policy are essential to advance in sustainability matters.
  • Creating awareness amongst travellers of their impact on the destination's biodiversity through educational information can help reduce negative effects.
  • To achieve a more sustainable future it's necessary to establish appropriate partnerships and indicators, e.g., the EU Ecolabel.

Summary

In this case study, Jorge Ventocilla, biodiversity specialist at the European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, help us understand more about biodiversity, its importance, how we can think about it and where it correlates with tourism and our activities as an industry.

At the beginning of the interview, Jorge highlighted the equal importance of science and policy, as well as the imperative need for both disciplines to communicate with each other.  

Nick asked him how, as a scientist, he sees the evolution of considerations around climate change and the impact that it has had on biodiversity over the last 20 years. He also asked him where he thinks we are at today in terms of our ability to tackle that and actually deal with these issues at an industry level.

Jorge explained that something that came out of the Climate COP, is the recognition that the biodiversity and the climate fights cannot be fought separately, but that they need to be fought together as one. He mentioned that from the scientific point of view, it can sometimes be frustrating because the policy takes time to catch up with the scientific discoveries, which calls for knowledge to be brought into policy so that the latter can be more sustainable and suited to the objectives.

The conversation then shifted to how we can understand what biodiversity is and who it impacts, exploring also why it is important to consider it. Jorge emphasised the complexity of the term biodiversity, as it is a niche term. Nonetheless, it has a very specific definition that defines biodiversity at three levels:

  • Species. Pigeons and humans are different species.
  • Ecosystems. Mountains and lakes are different ecosystems, which at the same time are made up of the different species in them.
  • Genetic level. Although humans are the same species, each individual is very different genetically.

Biodiversity is the diversity of life and thus, it links to everything. Jorge noted that biodiversity has different cultural values for different societies and that it has implications for the economy on which we depend but also affects political priorities, quality of life, and the management of the natural environment.

Humans have a considerable negative impact on biodiversity, which relates to fragmentation and the intervention in the ecosystem. Whether intended or unintended, these have negative implications on biodiversity, which we need to be aware of, as these behaviours and their effects are much more complicated to correct than those related, for example, to climate change.

According to Jorge’s opinion, sustainability is considering biodiversity, society and economy in all our actions and decisions. He mentioned though, that the economy is mostly seen in political decisions, but the other two need to receive more attention because when we look at the bigger picture, the economy depends on the environment.

Nick then shifted the discussion towards the connection between biodiversity and tourism, to which Jorge answered with two key points. On the one hand, he mentioned that biodiversity is usually used as a selling point in the industry, thus, Jorge highlighted the importance of informing about the local biodiversity and creating awareness about it. On the other hand, he discussed a recent case in the South of Spain, where they were using data to know how many tourists can go to an area and what the best way to disperse them would be. In biodiversity, this relates to the concept of carrying capacity, which refers to the number of people that can be at a place without establishing pressure on natural resources. Jorge mentioned that in many instances this has a negative environmental impact on touristic areas which the industry could help solve by being more efficient through the use of energy, water and moving away from greenwashing.

The discussion then moved to the tools that the industry can make use of to take more direct action in order to address the issues related to biodiversity. Jorge started off by mentioning the EU Green Label but emphasised that there are a number of different verifications to review implications and standards. He recommended destinations to reduce the number of visitors in some instances, saying that less can turn out to be better for their biodiversity, which is what makes people want to visit other places.

"Established in 1992 and recognised across Europe and worldwide, the EU Ecolabel is a label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards throughout their life-cycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution and disposal. The EU Ecolabel promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and CO2 during the manufacturing process.
The EU Ecolabel criteria provide exigent guidelines for companies looking to lower their environmental impact and guarantee the efficiency of their environmental actions through third party controls." - European Commission.

To wrap up the session, the conclusion focused on how management and policy can help protect biodiversity. Jorge focused on indicators, which he explained we can exploit by coming up with a baseline and then discussing where we want to start and set objectives accordingly. He highlighted the importance of establishing the right partnerships, including specialists and experts, who can help measure the impacts and set the necessary actions.