From the very start of CAS Trips, we have made it our business to know about local and international initiatives we can work with to help us do what we do, responsibly and sustainably. From cultivating meaningful community partnerships to joining forces with other travel providers committed to reducing carbon emissions—we know that our actions have more impact when we work together. So, as we once again expand our travel offerings, reflect on our first comprehensive Sustainability Report, and plan for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, we wanted to share our Sustainability Timeline and look back at how far we have come. Starting in 2015, when CAS Trips first launched, through to our plans for the coming year—this is how we have grown into the responsible organization that we are so proud to be today.
2015: Discovering meaningful ways for students to explore sustainability
A refreshing and powerful voice in the conversation around sustainability, young people have always proved able to envision a brighter future for us all and devise innovative strategies to bring it to life. From the beginning, we wanted to offer unique and dynamic activities for the students on our trips that would serve as both an inspiration and a springboard for their own future work in sustainability. Here are some highlights from how we began building the core of our sustainable programming:
Prague: The homeless cooking challenge
In collaboration with Pragulic – a locally-based Social Enterprise which offers homeless people a route back to employment – students take a walking tour led by a recovering homeless guide before being challenged to plan, cook, and deliver a fresh meal to a local shelter. They then have a challenging fundraising opportunity, which has resulted in over €3.000 donated towards health insurance, rehabilitation treatment, and English classes for the local homeless population in Prague.
Colombia: Organic farming project
Through long-term partnerships with local non-profits located in Carmen de Viboral, Colombia, CAS Trips enables students to partake in Service Learning impact projects alongside the local communities. Students learn about the challenges of organic farming by taking part in daily tasks while preparing for a cooking challenge, leaving them with both special memories and new perspectives.
2018: Embracing the UN SDGs
Since 2018, we have aligned all CAS Trips itineraries with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using the 17 UN UN SDGs to inspire and guide the actions we focus on in our programs, we have also been able to offer a lens to challenge students to translate their on-trip experiences into long-term projects back home during our CAS Project Challenge workshop.
Everywhere CAS Trips goes, we aim to ensure that we are creating a more significant global impact through local actions. All of our programming encourages students to identify SDGs that resonate with them, developing long-term initiatives to positively impact their own communities.
2018: Pledging to offset our CO2
For over four years, CAS Trips has been sponsoring Italian NGO Environomica to oversee the reforestation of indigenous tree varieties in Colombia’s Sierra Santa Marta. Meticulously calculating each participant’s carbon footprint via South Pole, we offset trip-generated emissions via Stand For Trees’ VSC-certified projects around the world. Since taking this step, all CAS Trips participants have also received a BPA-plastic free 700ml foldable and reusable water bottle to discourage single-use plastic.
2019: Empowering students to make their sustainability dreams a reality
In 2019, we held our first Changemakers Challenge. Each year since then, CAS Trips has aimed to inspire students worldwide to participate in the Changemakers Challenge to invent or campaign for something that will positively impact their community. The winning team, selected for their originality, actionability, and vision, is sent on an all-expenses-paid trip to present their CAS Project Challenge at one of our Global Student Conferences in Boston, Edinburgh, or Singapore.
2020: CAS Trips goes digital
When the pandemic hit, we knew that we needed to act fast to continue supporting our students and offering meaningful ways to contribute to our communities despite being stuck at home. One of our solutions for ways they could stay at home while making a change was with the CAS Trips Waste Reduction Challenge. A weekly waste reduction initiative during which participants received Waste Reductions tips from our global partners on Youtube, our challenge was open to all students internationally.
2020: Traveling Close to Home
2020 was also the year we offered our first Close to Home trip. Although many of our usual trips had to be canceled, we devised a program so that students could still gain all the benefits and excitement of travel while staying within the reassuring setting of their own country. Intended to strengthen student bonding, team collaboration, leadership, and advocacy while advancing the goals of sustainable travel—our Close to Home trips have been a huge success, and we continue to offer them.
2020: Our Virtual CAS Conferences are born
A further element of our digital transformation in 2020—our Virtual CAS Conferences supplied a much-needed solution for schools and students. Designed as weekend-long events that address Global Issues and inspire collaboration between students worldwide, we worked with international organizations such as Extinction Rebellion and the United Nations. Our conferences provided the material needed to address some of today’s most pressing Global Issues and contribute to a brighter and more sustainable future for all.
2021: CAS Trips declares a climate emergency with Tourism Declares and the Glasgow Declaration
Excited to begin traveling again, we also wanted to further our commitment to responsible travel and environmental protection. Despite all the hardship the pandemic has caused, we felt it has also presented an opportunity for the industry in which our company operates to do better. That is why we chose to join others working in travel and tourism in declaring a climate emergency.
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, we have committed to a range of accountability measures, including a climate plan, publicly sharing our progress, cutting our emissions, and advocating for further reform.
2022 and beyond: Sustainability remains front and center
Going forward, we are excited to add the next milestones on this timeline as we continue to prioritize sustainability with the support of our partners and the IB community. You can learn more about our sustainability policy here or review the details of our 2021 Sustainability report in full. A huge thank you to all of those who have been with us along this journey!