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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

Jeff chats to… Brendon Sing, Director of Shark Guardian (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Brendon Sing, Director of Shark Guardian, a UK Charity working for shark and marine conservation worldwide.

Brendon Sing is from South Africa and has been diving and researching sharks for over 25 years. Whilst achieving the highest qualifications in the scuba diving industry, he has been leading participants on shark diving expeditions from Africa to Asia with a strong focus on conservation, education and research. Together with his wife Liz, Brendon created Shark Guardian as a UK Charity in 2013. His goal is to inspire everyone worldwide to protect sharks – our ocean guardians. Shark Guardian has four main operational arms including (1) Conservation activities and campaigns, (2) educational programs and developing materials, (3) Research through citizen science and (4) shark diving expeditions.

Find out more at www.sharkguardian.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Australia plans to create world’s next two big marine parks

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The Australian Government has announced plans to establish two new marine parks around Australia’s spectacular Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands!

These will be the world’s next big marine parks, providing crucial protection to globally significant marine life in an area twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are uniquely Australian and globally significant – there’s nowhere like them on Earth.

Most famous for its annual red crab migration, Christmas Island is one of David Attenborough’s 10 natural wonders of the world. Its thriving rainforests, deserted beaches and fringing reef provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are Australia’s best-kept secret – our unspoiled tropical island paradise! Sitting at the top of an ancient sea mountain encircling a beautiful tropical lagoon, their azure waters are home to an incredible array of diverse marine life including tropical fish, corals, turtles, manta rays and dolphins.

Located thousands of kilometres north-west from Perth, in the vast Indian Ocean, there are few comparable unspoiled tropical island environments left in the world.

Creating world-class marine parks will provide crucial protection for a wealth of marine life, make a significant global contribution to the health of our oceans, and bring much-needed benefits to the people of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

It’s essential that the government embraces and respects the aspirations of the island communities, working collaboratively with them to co-design these marine parks. Healthy oceans and sustainable fishing are central to the local communities’ way of life, their culture and their livelihoods.

Help Save Our Marine Life Australia grow the movement to support these new marine parks for Christmas and Cocos – Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories – by spreading the word on Facebook.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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