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The link between the United Nations Global Compact and ecotourism
The United Nations Global Compact (Global Compact) is a voluntary, strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and coordinating their strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the four issue areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Since ecotourism addresses each of these four issue areas, some international ecotour operators have aligned their business practices with the Global Compact.
The objectives of the Global Compact are to share best practices on sustainability and development, advance sustainability solutions, and link businesses across the supply chain. By obliging businesses to report annually on their progress toward implementing its goals and strategies, the enforcement of the Global Compact is through public accountability, transparency and disclosure.
The ten universally accepted principles of the Global Compact, which are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption are:
- Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights
- Make sure the company is not complicit in human rights abuses
- Uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
- Uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor
- Uphold the effective abolition of child labor
- Uphold the elimination of discrimination with respect to employment
- Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
- Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
- Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies
- Work against corruption in all its forms including extortion and bribery
For our purposes, an ecotour company Chief Executive Officer must first submit a letter of commitment to the Secretary-General of the United Nations expressing support for the Global Compact and the company’s integration plans of the Global Compact’s ten principles. The letter is followed by an online Organization Registration.
Once approved, the ecotour company must annually submit a corporate Communication on Progress report delineating how the company is changing its business operations, culture and strategies so that they reflect the principles of the Global Compact. In addition, participants are expected to publicly advocate the Global Compact and encouraged to join engagement platforms or action committees that support the four issue areas, which in the case of environment principles include the platforms deliberating on solutions for climate change and water policy /sustainability.
The United Nations offers a Global Compact self-assessment tool, a performance management model, and a blueprint for corporate sustainability leadership criteria so that businesses can determine their performance across the four issues areas, encourage continuous improvement, and assist in the development of a corporate Communication on Progress report.
Click here for a listing of businesses in the travel and leisure industry who have signed the UN Global Compact.