It is with immense pleasure to introduce this second Long Run Initiative newsletter, which gives me the opportunity to retrace my personal journey to join the distinguished group of passionate people that have committed themselves to the highest standards in sustainability and protect some of the most precious places on our planet. How did this all start?
While we, the nine founding members, met Jochen Zeitz, the founder of the Zeitz Foundation, for the first time in the "London meeting" in 2008, for me the roots go back to 2003 when I presented Chumbe Island in the World Parks Congress of IUCN in Durban, South Africa.
This congress was special as it included, probably for the first time, a workshop on "private protected areas" (PPA), organised by Wolf Krug and Jeff Langholz who had researched and published about this upcoming trend and the pioneering enterprises. On this and similar events, the much repeated buzzword was "communities". A key section of the participants was pleading with governments, donors and conservation NGOs to pay more attention to the rights and plights of people whose livelihoods depended on natural resources and for whom conservation was more a threat than opportunity.
However, after having built up Chumbe Island for already over a decade, and learning in the process that the biggest challenges did not really come from local communities, I felt uneasy about one common angle of the agenda of the conservation world that seemed to draw a dividing line between governments, donors, NGOs and 'communities' as the good guys on one side, and the private sector as the bad guy on the other, which above all needed to be restricted, controlled, and regulated but still expected to pay much of the bills of conservation.
I found this perception both unrealistic and unfair because, when looking at the incentives at work in nature conservation, I could not really see how the type of governments, donors and some NGOs that I had worked with in my professional life in the aid industry and as an entrepreneur developing Chumbe Island, could be easily convinced to loosen control over protected areas and shift governance towards more community participation. To be blunt, I saw them as part of the problem rather than drivers for a solution.
On the other hand, there were already quite a number of private protected areas around the world that had gone a long way in working with local communities, this of course being a condition for their success, but they found it hard to be acknowledged by both governments and the international conservation community.
Therefore, a few people strongly felt that there was a need for an international association of PPA's, and we started discussing this after the World Parks Congress. However, no progress was made over the years, I guess for lack of leadership, until Jochen entered the scene.
Five years later when, in 2008, out of the blue, came the invitation to the London meeting, which Wolf and Jeff also attended as consultants. I assume it was they who advised Jochen in the selection of those likely to share the same mission. From then on, this mission became more explicit, aiming at excellence and innovation in conservation, community, culture, and commerce, what the Zeitz Foundation calls the 4Cs, to achieve the sustainable future for our globe.
The rest is history! The portfolio of properties, the network, the institution, and the instruments of certification for Long Run Destinations as well as the public visibility grew from strength to strength. More people joined as Long Run Alliance Members and Long Run Supporters, with a wide range of like-minded businesses and initiatives.
The several meetings held since then at some of our outstanding places have become a highlight in our calendars, and a strong partnership and friendship has developed among members of the Long Run Initiative.
I believe that joining hands in the Long Run Initiative will contribute to achieving sustainability, not only for our individual businesses but also as a driving force for change within the wider industry. We are currently transforming the organisational set-up of the Long Run Initiative to become members-driven and increasingly independent of the funding of Jochen’s Zeitz Foundation.
Finally, let me quote Jochen in his introduction to the first Issue of the Long Run Newsletter, "the sustainability challenge is enormous and working together essential to address it effectively. Cooperation therefore lies at the heart of our mission, our unspoken 5thC!"
And I would like to add, this November issue may well introduce yet another "C", the 6thC, Communication!
A warm thanks to all those who have contributed to this newsletter. If you would like to play a part in highlighting issues that touch on the 4Cs of sustainability – Conservation, Community, Culture, Commerce – please send your article to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be published in our next newsletter and on our website.
Click on the link below and enjoy your read. Your feedback and comments are always welcomed!
Long Run Initiative Newsletter November 2013.
Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd.