Our General Manager Thomas Holden was flown to Geneva to speak at the United Nations (UN) after Nature Discovery won the Best Responsible Tourism Product Award 2018. His talk was part of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Private Sector Solutions series.

The conference gathered the world’s biggest economic stakeholders to discuss a new way to do business in the global economy, with sustainability at the forefront of every economic decision.

Thomas was invited to speak on stage about Nature Discovery’s experiences in implementing sustainable development goals for our Mount Kilimanjaro tours. His key message focused on the importance of building strong partnerships to diversify the growth of sustainable practices and maintain sustainability. For Nature Discovery this includes working with a wide variety of NGOs and initiatives such as:

Thomas also emphasised Nature Discovery’s role in leading the way to raise awareness for sustainability throughout the entire Tanzanian tourism industry. He summarised by explaining how practicing a broad range of sustainable practices, as outlined by Travelife, has helped increase sustainability and ensure we practice what we preach.

Thomas was honoured to speak at the conference and share the red carpet with delegates who included presidents, foreign ministers and VIPs from around the world.

The conference was an opportunity to not only present our successes, but to also learn from others. Most importantly, Thomas was able to connect with like-minded delegates and find out more about how UNCTAD is shaping the tourism sector in Tanzania and in Africa.

Thomas explained:

“I think the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a central part of every business 10 years from now, and those not paying attention will be left behind.”

The UN’s SDGs were at the centre of every discussion, with talks ranging from broad topics like industry and agriculture to specific SDGs of block-chain economics, anti-bacterial technology and sports development. Women’s entrepreneurship was a major focus based on the fifth goal for Gender Equality, attracting its own high profile awards ceremony.

Thomas was especially interested in the role of sport in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This discussion focused on the challenges of gender issues within sport. In particular, dealing with the social norms for girls and women in sport and creating new opportunities to rebalance the systematic and structured inequality females face in sport, and in most aspects of their lives.

While the barriers to participation in sport for women exist almost everywhere, they’re even higher in developing countries, where poverty and cultural ideas about gender roles hold women back. This is relevant to Nature Discovery because we’re developing the Arusha Bicycle Center (ABC), which recently launched a youth cycling program.

UN delegates who attended Thomas’s talk and are charged with the growth of the SDG’s in African Tourism commented:

“Meeting with Thomas was one of the most authentic and nourishing parts of the conference.”

Thomas has returned to Tanzania with a renewed passion for sustainability.

“The event was inspiring on many levels, and has emboldened me as a leader,” he commented.

“There are always ways we can improve our business and make personal decisions to be more sustainable. Now we’ve won these awards, we have to take our role even more seriously. We have to continue to be innovative in finding better solutions that lead to improved win-win scenarios. True sustainability has positive repercussions for all stakeholders, even the silent ones.”

Thank you to Responsible Tourism Tanzania and the UN for providing Nature Discovery with this invaluable opportunity.