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Marine Life & Conservation

Beyond Tourism Challenge win to drive global marine conservation impact

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IDB support to enable Green Fins Global Hub development and launch of Green Fins Costa Rica

The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is thrilled to announce its Green Fins Global Hub proposal has been selected for project design under IDB Lab’s Beyond Tourism Challenge. This funding enables Reef-World to begin full development of the much-anticipated Green Fins Global Hub.

The Green Fins Global Hub is a first-of-its-kind online platform which will empower marine tourism businesses to measurably improve their sustainability efforts. The Hub will house an online support system to raise operator awareness of the potential threats their business practices pose to the environment and offer practical, proven solutions to address these. In this way, the digital global solution will encourage compliance with internationally recognised environmental standards, safeguard biodiversity and stimulate green tourism; ultimately, resulting in better protection of fragile coral reefs globally.

The Beyond Tourism project support enables Reef-World to begin the development of the Hub, which will initially be piloted by marine tourism operators in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. As an already established Green Fins country, the Dominican Republic team will share successes and learnings with Costa Rica, which will launch Green Fins as a result of this project support. By digitising the support it provides to reef-dependent businesses through the Hub, Reef-World will overcome traditional capacity and time constraints, reach previously inaccessible operators and upscale the overall conservation impact of its Green Fins initiative.

Chloe Harvey, Director of The Reef-World Foundation, said: “The Green Fins Global Hub has been generating excitement among dive centres around the world for some time so we’re delighted that IDB Lab has recognised the huge conservation impact it will have and selected it for project design. By the end of the two-year project, we expect to have fully autonomous Green Fins assessor teams in both Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic as well as a global digital platform with the potential to reach 30,000 marine tourism operators across 100 countries and upskill around 48,000 staff. Empowering the industry to collaborate for improved sustainability is essential in influencing the consumer choices of the 171 million travellers visiting reef hotspots annually and will have a significant conservation impact. We can’t wait to get started!”

This project creates a tipping point for sustainable reef tourism globally by helping the industry identify pressing environmental threats and providing proven solutions. By improving sustainability across the marine tourism industry, the Hub will protect coral reefs and related ecosystems from local stressors. Minimising local threats enables these vital ecosystems to become more resilient to global stressors, such as those associated with climate change. It also protects the local communities who rely on these precious natural resources for food stability, coastal protection, livelihoods and tourism returns.

The Beyond Tourism Challenge identified innovations in two categories: development of the tourism workforce for post-COVID recovery; and environmental sustainability. The Challenge attracted 214 applications from public and private sector candidates in 28 countries around the world with proposals ranging from waste management and safety protocols to preservation of natural capital and eco-tourism. Evaluation was conducted by IDB Group specialists – with technical expertise provided by the UNWTO – and criteria included the degree of innovation, the degree of social and environmental impact, its scalability potential, financial sustainability and viability of execution.

Reef-World’s proposal was one of eight selected from Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Haiti, Guyana, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. These selected applicants will become part of IDB Group’s network of global innovators working in the region to reinvent the tourism industry and support its recovery efforts. The selected proposals were:

  • Barbados – “Better Batteries” an energy-as-a-service model to accelerate the hotel industry´s access to renewable energy. Applicant: Aceleron
  • Belize – “Belizing Tourism Innovation Lab” a virtual marketplace to enhance workforce development. Applicant: Lets Go Belizing Ltd.
  • Costa Rica – “INTO Experiential Camps & Lodges” a platform to bring together social ecotourism with land and marine conservation. Applicant: INTO Hospitality S.A.
  • Dominican Republic – “Green Fins Hub – Digital scaling for sustainable marine tourism”. Applicants: The Reef-World Foundation and Reef Check Dominican Republic.
  • Guyana – “Safe Lodges Equal Safe Guests”, a mobile tracing and tracking system and upskilling of tourism operators to allow for a safe reopening of ecotourism in Guyana’s Northern Rupununi region. Applicants: DAI Global LLC, Guyana Tourism Authority and Wilderness Explorers
  • Haiti – “Caribbean Tourism Career Accelerator” a virtual programme to fast-track tourism workforce career development. Applicants: Global Startup Foundation and Cocread
  • Panama – “Digital Transformation of Indigenous-Led Ecotourism and Conservation” a model to foster a safe and sustainable return to eco-tourism operations by local communities. Applicants: Keteka, Global Brigades and Native Future
  • Trinidad and Tobago – “Creating a community-driven, sustainable cluster and brand to transform ecotourism in Nariva Swamp” using citizen science to develop Nariva as an eco-tourism attraction. Applicant: Caribbean Natural Resources Institute

The Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge was run by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its innovation laboratory, IDB Lab, and in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). 

For more information, please visit www.greenfins.net  

Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.

During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Fit filters in washing machines and slow the tide of ocean plastic

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The Marine Conservation Society’s Stop Ocean Threads campaign, which is calling for all new washing machines to be fitted with microfibre filters, by law, by 2024, aims to stop plastic pollution at source by filtering microscopic plastics from washing machine waste water.

To date the charity’s petition has been signed by over 12,000 people. The petition calls on government to introduce legislation which requires all new washing machines to be fitted with microfibre filters by law. Now, the charity is taking direct action and encouraging supporters to tweet washing machine manufacturers, putting pressure on them to fit filters on all new washing machines and slow the tide of microfibres entering the ocean.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society revealed that most (81%) adults surveyed supported legislative change and a quarter (26%) of those said that they would be willing to pay an additional £50 or more for a washing machine fitted with a microfibre filter. Not only is there is clear public support for legislation to Stop Ocean Threads, but consumers are willing to pay extra for their washing machines to have ocean-friendly credentials.

It’s increasingly important to put this issue top of the agenda for washing machine manufacturers who can take action now helping to address the microplastic issue, rather than waiting for legislation to be put in place.

Dr Laura Foster, Marine Conservation Society’s Head of Clean Seas says: “Our research has found that the public is largely supportive of our call for legislation, and consumers are willing to pay a little more to reduce the flow of microplastics into the ocean.

“It’s fantastic to see the support our petition has received so far, but now we need the public to show their support and join our action to engage with manufacturers directly. If we can show manufacturers that the public wants these filters fitted as soon as possible, we hope to speed up the legislative process and get filters fitted in the near future.”

Members of the public are encouraged by the Marine Conservation Society to go direct to washing machine manufacturers, and get involved in the charity’s tweet action.

“Hey @Miele_GB @BekoUK @Hoover_UK @BoschUK @SamsungUK @WhirlpoolCorp  We want washing machine manufacturers to commit to fitting microfibre filters before 2024. Will you do this and help us #StopOceanThreads? Please retweet and share far and wide”

To sign the charity’s Stop Ocean Threads petition, visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website. Find out more on how to get involved in the direct action here.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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