The annual meeting of the Sustainable Travel Alliance was held in Beijing to celebrate its third anniversary on April 21. The meeting was part of the Earth Hour series of events, hosted by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (Switzerland) Beijing Representative Office.
More than 60 representatives from government departments, industry associations, academic institutions, tourism firms, and media organizations gathered to discuss how to safeguard endangered animals and their habitats and build a more “sustainable future” through sustainable travel.
As global tourism gradually recovers, it has become crucial to re-examine the relationship between humans and nature. According to Shi Ronghong, a researcher at the Department of Wildlife Conservation, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, “Wildlife plays an important role in the ecosystem and has invaluable cultural and social value. Protecting biodiversity and eliminating the illegal wildlife trade requires joint efforts from legislators, law enforcement, and judicial practices, as well as all sectors of society.”
Yin Feng, chief engineer of the China Wildlife Conservation Association, also mentioned the importance for related industries to fulfill their corporate social responsibility, “We are pleased to see that, with the promotion of organizations like WWF, industries such as the internet, express delivery, traditional Chinese medicine, and the entire tourism industry, are taking action together.”
In the past half century, humans have been excessively consuming natural resources at an unprecedented rate and squeezing the living space of wildlife. Since 1970, the average population of monitored wild animals worldwide has declined by 69 percent. About 17 percent of food is wasted in retail and consumption every year. The problem of plastic pollution has also become prominent. Without global action to reduce plastic production and usage, plastic pollution in the ocean will increase fourfold by 2050.
Since its establishment in September 2020, the Sustainable Travel Alliance has doubled in size and grown to 42 members. Together, the alliance and its members are committed to protecting endangered species and their habitats, curbing the illegal wildlife trade, saving resources, reducing food waste, and minimizing plastic and waste pollution in the travel industry.
For over three years, the alliance has organized more than 30 events targeting outbound tourism, including online courses and offline salons. Additionally, it has participated in major domestic and international conferences to promote sustainable development through WWF’s international platform. For example, during the 19th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), WWF and the alliance members jointly shared Chinese tourism companies’ experience of sustainable tourism practices.
Zhou Fei, deputy director-general of the WWF Beijing Representative Office, said: “I am delighted to see more and more partners joining the Sustainable Travel Alliance to contribute to the conservation of endangered species. At the same time, as young people become the main force of outbound tourism, how to make this group better understand and practice sustainable tourism, is also a question worthy of our joint consideration.”