Journeys by Design depends on nature. Without the wildlife, wilderness and cultures of Africa, we would not be in business. This life – and the livelihoods it enables – is under threat. In order to combat this, we have drawn up a three-year plan to both minimise the obvious negative impact of the travel we facilitate and leave our destinations in a better condition than they were before we visited them. This plan commits us wholeheartedly to a range of steps that will ensure that we become a net-positive business.
The plan begins with the launch of our campaign Don’t Buy This Safari*, an idea borrowed from Patagonia, a company we admire tremendously. Shining a light on the negative impact of mass tourism, the campaign aims to actively discourage people from travel that fails to provide a net long-term positive impact on the places visited.
For Journeys by Design, Don’t Buy This Safari draws a line under what is generally understood as a tour operator. It means better analysing our operations, better understanding and measuring impact, and better innovating on new ways to deliver purposeful travel. It means ensuring that everything we do has a long-term positive impact on the local communities for whom the destinations we use are home. It means being absolutely stakeholder-focused in our approach.
Much of the sentiment behind Don’t Buy This Safari has served to drive the organisation’s evolution over the last few years. Journeys by Design is also Wild Philanthropy and it is also Tekula Capital, and it’s through these charitable and social enterprise vehicles that we have been making impact investments in Africa’s at-risk ecosystems since 2016. However, it’s just the beginning, and the campaign marks the next phase in our thinking and doing.
*For an example of how the campaign begins to translate as an itinerary, please see Off The Map.
Over the next three years Journeys by Design aims to become a net-positive business. In the process, we will:
Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. We will be legally required to consider the impacts of our decisions on our workers, clients, supplier, community and environment, before shareholders. This stakeholder-based approach ensures our business is a force for good.
Journeys by Design is a member of 1% For the Planet. This means that 1% of our gross sales will go to approved environmental causes and organisations.
Audit our UK supply chain and ensure we are sourcing locally and ethically. Equally, look at our African supply chain and start developing much clearer sustainable ratings of our supplier properties and companies’ operations. We want to shine a light on these leading initiatives which deliver higher quality by sustainable products. This requires us to consistently review the performance of all product we use.
This is a contentious subject, but we acknowledge that there is an inherent negative impact from travel that needs to be addressed, and in three interrelated ways: firstly, we need to avoid carbon emissions; then, we need to look at minimising; and lastly, we need to develop offsetting mechanisms. We are embarking on a root and branch analysis of our carbon footprint to understand how best we can implement this strategy.
In terms of offsetting, we are selecting a number of forest carbon projects that are designed to protect natural carbon sinks – forests – in the areas we travel. This will allow us to in turn protect the wildlife and wilderness while offsetting the unavoidable carbon emissions travel creates. To this end:
1. In August 2021 we signed an agreement to purchase carbon credits from Carbon Tanzania’s Ntakata Forest REDD+ carbon project.
2. Credits will be used to offset client travel, with the help of the Safari Carbon Calculator, which we developed and released as a free open source tool in June 2021.
We are committing to developing simple accounting practises that let us incorporate natural capital into our accounts. These will be published alongside our statutory accounts and will aim to provide an environmentally and socially adjusted set of accounts demonstrating the value we are creating for society rather than the value we are creating for shareholders.
Continue to work with initiatives such as Business for Nature to demonstrate the business case for nature whilst signing up to similar initiatives that will help us learn and grow.
Along with many others in the world of tourism, we hereby declare a climate emergency. For further details on the commitment this entails, please see Climate Emergency.
We know this will take time, hence the three-year plan. We hope to achieve our aims sooner, but equally do not want to rush the process, lest we fail to fully consider the implications of everything we’re attempting to do. We must do this properly.
In all this, we are pragmatic optimists. Sustainable or regenerative travel has to be a by-product of a healthy planet and we are in the privileged position of driving this agenda through for the majority benefit of our stakeholders. Don’t buy this safari – unless you know why we’re selling it.