10 Eco Friendly Travel Destinations
Travel is now the world’s largest industry, with a trillion-dollar annual footprint. This means that travelers have enormous power. Where we choose to put our footprints has economic and political reverberations that reach far beyond our personal experience. Ethical Traveler believes that mindful travel offers many rewards, both personal and global.
Ethical traveler reviews the policies and practices of developing nations around the world to find the ten that are doing the best job of promoting human rights, protecting the environment and supporting social welfare while growing a vibrant, community-based tourism industry. Last year, it began including animal welfare for the first time.
By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices,” says Ethical Traveler.
It found a host of things to praise in these countries’ approach to protecting the environment, reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to reducing climate change.
- Cabo Verde is working to build stronger connections between rural development, poverty alleviation and economic growth, and to build up its agriculture and fishing sectors.
- Chile scored highest in environmental protection, followed closely by Mauritius and Uruguay. Chile approved the first carbon tax in South America, to take effect in 2018. It’s the latest in a series of measures the government has implemented to move toward its goal of getting 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. In October, Chile’s Supreme Court blocked development of a gold and copper mine after the indigenous Diaguita community said it would pollute the local river. And Patagonia’s government rejected the HidroAysén project to construct five hydroelectric dams on the Futaleufú River, which environmentalists said would harm the Patagonia wilderness.
- Dominica has launched a pilot project to reduce energy consumption in business sectors which has spurred an effort to energy climate-proof their shorelines and help build a green economy.
- Lithuania set a goal of 23 percent use of renewable energy by 2020 and is already almost there with 22 percent of its energy generated renewably.
- Mauritius, a nation of great biodiversity, has launched a campaign to plant 200,000 trees by 2014. It has established fishing reserves and marine parks and begun a community-based coral-farming program to combat the loss of reefs.
- Palau is offering subsidies for citizens to incorporate more energy-efficiency features into new homes. It was designated an “Environmental Star” by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for its care of marine and terrestrial areas.
- Samoa has set goals for improving environmental sustainability and disaster resilience and this year it hosted a conference on sustainable development. In September the UN praised Samoa for its work and co-signed a $1 million project for sustaining and improving the island’s biodiversity and managing the threats of climate change and desertification.
- Tonga is aiming to reduce its diesel imports 50 percent by 2020 by promoting solar home energy. It has instituted a National Development Plan to address both the economic and ecological environments. In 2015, Ha’aapai will become Tonga’s first island to institute organic farming.
- Uruguay is a leader in sustainable public transportation in Latin America, with plans to roll out electric buses and taxis on its streets by 2015. it’s working to become carbon neutral, with 80 percent of its energy now coming from renewable sources and a goal of 90 percent by the end of next year.
- Vanuatu, an archipelago of about 80 islands, is very vulnerable to climate change. It’s begun to farm freshwater tilapia as climate change has decimated its coral reefs and its stock of ocean fish.
If none of those appeal to you, Ethical Traveler says to consider Grenada, Malawi, Madagascar, Ghana and newly accessible Cuba, saying “Open-minded travelers can learn much by visiting them. Nothing compares to witnessing firsthand the dynamic processes of social and political change.”
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