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  • Published on June 9, 2023

Balancing an approach that seeks to address all aspects of sustainability with a focus on keeping things simple for stakeholders is the key to progress, according to the Long Run’s Technical Assistance Advisor, Dr Anne Kathrin Zscheigner.


You can watch the conversation here.

The case study has been provided by The Long Run in support of Climate Action in the Tourism Sector – An overview of methodologies and tools to measure greenhouse gas emissions demonstrating the value of taking action to measure emissions and accelerate climate action.


As an organisation whose members manage millions of acres of the world’s most endangered ecosystems, The Long Run’s goal is to protect and regenerate wildscapes and ensure that tourism is a positive force in achieving this. The Long Run does this by promoting a holistic approach to sustainability which it terms the 4Cs, looking at all operational aspects through the lenses of Conservation, Culture, Community and Commerce.


As a founder signatory of Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and a launch signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, its long-term commitment to climate action ranges from carbon sequestration to biodiversity protection and community engagement The Long Run believes that collaboration and a holistic approach to sustainability are key to achieve positive impact. It works with other organisations, such as the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group), and through partnerships with the UN and others designed to celebrate best practice and share knowledge in pursuit of these goals.


The Long Run  helps members integrate sustainability and the 4Cs into the core of their business, so that sustainability is not just an add on but a fundamental part of operations. This includes looking at everything from resource efficiency to employee engagement or biodiversity monitoring, and focused on minimising negative impacts and maximising the positive ones.


Integrating climate action

Since 2015, The Long Run has worked to help its members better understand their emissions. For many members the focus is still mostly on understanding Scopes 1 and 2, though the organisation seeks to expand this understanding for members to eventually measure Scope 3 as well. Having developed several tools over the years to help its members with these challenges, the organisation has come to the realisation that for any tool to be truly useful, it needs to be simple and practical.


For this reason, it has been working with the consultancy Efisur to develop an online spreadsheet tailored to its members' situations. This enables them to measure and report on an annual basis, with an updated version currently being developed where they can input data monthly, track performance, get instant feedback, and benchmark progress.


“Support needs to be tangible and easy for people to see the benefits of their actions”


In 2022, The Long Run also worked with its host organisation, Preferred by Nature, to support the development of a sustainability management platform called Weeva (in early 2023). The platform is closely aligned with The Long Run’s holistic 4Cs approach, enabling users to measure and track environmental criteria, as well as progress on social and cultural issues. Furthermore, the platform doesn’t only support measurement and data gathering, but provides tailored case studies and training guidance, along with reporting functionality to encourage people to continue their sustainability journey.


In addition to its work on measurement tools, The Long Run organises regular webinars themed around key areas such as energy management, waste reduction, Scope 3 emissions calculation and supplier engagement, as well as other aspects of sustainability. It has also secured funding from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to develop two training courses supporting climate action that are freely and openly accessible online. These courses focus on resource efficiency and strategic sustainability (4C) planning, providing practical and simple tips for reducing environmental impact and linking day-to-day activities to long-term sustainability goals.


Beyond climate
Due to the nature of its members', The Long Run has always had a considerable focus on regeneration and nature-based solutions, climate adaptation, habitat restoration, carbon sequestration. Yet even for an organisation whose members are truly committed, measuring the impact of these efforts is not easy. Some, such as Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in South Africa and Tahi in New Zealand, have already made progress in this area. Grootbos has now demonstrated it is carbon negative comparing its emissions to carbon sequestered in the property. Tahi has developed a biodiversity value index, which take consideration of different potential carbon sequestration trees species in its restoration efforts. This helps show that high diversity helps sequester more carbon than a monoculture. Understanding the biodiversity and carbon sequestration value is a topic The Long Run is working on to create a greater ripple effect of change throughout the travel industry.


Meanwhile, it is working to get a better understanding of the impact of its own members' work, a considerable challenge as they collectively manage 23 million acres of land in hundreds of places scattered across the globe. To do this, The Long Run has partnered with the Map of Life and the EO Wilson Foundation in the US to show how its conservation efforts protect key and endangered species. At the same time, The Long Run team collaborates with Preferred by Nature’s carbon team to explore how their tools can be used in the tourism industry, and investigating the potential of Artificial intelligence (AI) and remote sensing to measure carbon sequestration at scale.


Even with the reach and complexity of its work across the world, the focus for the Long Run remains simplicity. It is essential, says Zschiegner, that organisations don’t try to tackle everything at once, but rather focus on one area at a time to avoid being overwhelmed, and reach out for help, especially when trying to do things for the first time. To start taking action on sustainability, people need to understand that even one step in the right direction is a valuable first step,” she says. “Support needs to be tangible and easy for people to see the benefits of their actions, such as the energy savings from changing a light bulb.” 

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