Baseline study analyses how CSR standards for tourism include biodiversity criteria

An analysis of how measures to protect biodiversity are integrated into tourism Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards and awards has been published by adelphi, ECOTRANS e.V. and the Global Nature Fund. The study draws conclusions on how biodiversity protection can be better integrated into standards’ and awards’ criteria.

Bonn, 23rd of October 2014

The tourism industry is one of the most important economic sectors in Germany but is also, in environmental terms, one of the least regulated. Apart from a small number of legal provisions regulating the compliance with social and environmental minimum standards – which are subject to greatly varying degrees of implementation – most of the existing instruments and guidelines are non-binding. Surveys suggest, however, that tourists are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their holidays. In this context, voluntary participation in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) processes play a significant role.

The baseline study focuses on CSR standards and awards influencing the German tourism industry. The study found that standard organisations, awards and tourism operators now take certain aspects of biodiversity into account in their policy documents. The standards which were examined as part of the study were found overall to be transparent, having the potential to be proofed by third parties for their effects on the ground. In terms of the measures included, they tended to largely deal with destruction of ecosystems and overuse of natural resources. 

Despite this, there is enormous potential for improvement in terms of information provision and the uptake of new concepts in CSR processes for standards and awards. Processes tended to concentrate on traditional measures to protect habitats and species. Less attention was paid to issues such as invasive alien species, a challenge that has reached the political agenda more recently. In addition, newer concepts for managing biodiversity such as "No-Net-Loss”, the idea that developments on balance should have no negative impact on biodiversity by for example, carrying out restoration work elsewhere, or the better-known "mitigation hierarchy” were not mentioned. Ecosystem services also received little attention, a surprising omission according to the study authors, given the clear economic importance of biodiversity to the tourism sector and the scrutiny that the concept has received in recent years.

The results of the study from adelphi, ECOTRANS e.V. and the Global Nature Fund are being used to develop recommendations as to how biodiversity can be more strongly integrated into CSR processes. Further steps will include the development of a knowledge pool and an opportunity for existing standards to be proofed by the project team for their coverage of biodiversity. The baseline study is part of the project "Biodiversity in CSR processes in the area of tourism" which is supported by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with the financial support of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.  

The baseline study is available in online knowledge pool of the Buisness and Biodiversity Campaign and on Destinet, a Knowledge Networking Portal for Sustainable & Responsible Tourism.
Tags: Biodiversity Indicators | Biodiversity Management | Biodiversity policy | Tourism


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