We have declared a climate emergency. Responsible travel and support for environmental protection have always been an integral part of our mission at CAS Trips. We believe in leading by example and have sought to encourage a mindful approach to travel from the very first trip we planned. Going forward, we want to take this commitment to new heights and participate in reshaping tourism to realize its positive potential.
Despite all the hardship the pandemic has caused, we feel it has also presented an opportunity for the industry in which our company operates to do better. That is why we have chosen to join others working in travel and tourism in declaring a climate emergency.
We recognize the impact that the travel industry can have on the environment. Still, we believe that travel to new destinations can and should offer an array of benefits, both for the visitors and the locals in their host destinations. To ensure this symbiotic relationship has the chance to flourish, it is crucial to acknowledge the seriousness of the environmental situation we are currently facing and to examine the role that tourism plays.
In the words of CAS Trips Founder Simon Armstrong, “The world has been rocked by COVID-19, but the time is now to reimagine, realign and regenerate the tourism industry built upon truly sustainable principles – environmentally, economically, and culturally. CAS Trips are 100% committed to playing our part and pledge to continue and, more importantly, constantly strive to improve our sustainable practice.”
To mobilize our pledge of allegiance, we are:
1. Developing a Climate Action Plan
At CAS Trips, we recognize our role as educators who have a responsibility to lead by example. As such, we built a Sustainability Plan into the initial framework of our company. Inspired by and aligned with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we have created our own 17 Goals to show just how we are putting these statements into action.
We are currently assessing these commitments, ensuring we can continue meeting the goals that have been achieved and finding ways to expedite the realization of others. From striving to become carbon neutral to preserving local cultures and supporting local economies, we take sustainability seriously.
2. Sharing our commitment and progress publicly
We have always sought to provide concrete evidence of our sustainability efforts, in addition to offering suggestions for ways CAS Trips participants can reduce their negative environmental impact while traveling. Over the last year, we have invested increasing resources in providing thoughtful, relevant, and actionable information on our website and across social media.
From highlighting ways schools can participate in the UN Sustainable Development Goals to deconstructing the concept of International Mindedness and ethical Service Learning in the context of a pandemic, we are outspoken about our commitment to a more sustainable future. We will continue to use our blog as a forum to do so.
3. Cutting our carbon emissions
As outlined in our Sustainability Plan, CAS Trips have undertaken a number of measures to cut our carbon emissions. We have already moved 95% of our operation paperless, and we pledge to achieve that extra 10% to go wholly digital and 100% paperless by 2022.
And in doing our part to end irresponsible consumption, we pledge to donate, recycle or upcycle all consumer products and clothing, such as computer equipment, office furniture, uniforms, and anything else we can! Going forward, we aim to reduce our impact and be a positive presence in the communities in which we travel.
4. Working together to declare a climate emergency
Our company’s efforts are based on collaboration. In all the destinations we travel to and engage with, we have committed to cultivating relationships with local partners who are doing the most to tackle the issues of climate change and who follow responsible tourism practices.
In Spring 2020, in an effort to mobilize solidarity even when we were all stuck at home grappling with the reality of the pandemic, we initiated the Waste Reduction Challenge. In partnership with NGOs from our various destinations, we spearheaded a waste reduction campaign on social media to provide individuals and families with weekly waste reduction targets and initiatives. As we build back our educational programs worldwide, we will do so in a collaborative effort that engages and prioritizes the local communities.
5. Advocating for change
Ultimately, our goal has always been to support the next generation of sustainability changemakers and environmentally conscious leaders. In working to educate and inspire, we relaunched our CAS Project Challenge to encourage students to Think Global and Act Local. We will continue to advocate for youth movements in our Virtual CAS Conferences and are planning to address more global environmental issues in our next conference series.
We believe that travel is incredibly enriching when done mindfully, yet we recognize the need for systemic change across the tourism industry and call for urgent regulatory action. Change is only possible when we all work together, and we are proud to be among those speaking out and working to make travel a force of good in the world!