Sustainable marine tourism is receiving a major boost with the launch of the Green Fins Hub.
Green Fins Hub
• The Green Fins Hub is the first-ever global marine tourism industry platform, helping operators to make simple, cost-efficient changes to their daily practices by utilising tried and tested solutions, keep track of their annual improvements and communicate with their communities and customers.
• The industry-backed digital platform is expected to scale up from about 700 operators across 14 countries today to a potential 30,000 worldwide, thus increasing coral protection and conservation worldwide.
• The tool has been developed by the Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to overcome the biggest sustainability challenges in the marine conservation tourism industry.
• The Green Fins Hub has been co-created with key industry partners from around the world, to ensure it meets the needs of its stakeholders.
What is its significance?
• Coral reefs, home to at least 25 per cent of marine life, are the mecca for marine-related tourism, contributing up to 40 per cent or more of the gross domestic product in some island nations. However, they are a most vulnerable ecosystem, especially to climate change with the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius being existential for reefs. Increasing accessibility of best practice, knowledge and citizen science through this global digital hub can be a game changer in ensuring a future for coral reefs and other fragile marine ecosystems.
• Green Fins is a proven conservation management approach which leads to a measurable reduction in the negative environmental impacts associated with the marine tourism industry.
• The initiative aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines that promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry.
• It provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.
• Green Fins encourages and empowers members of the diving industry to act to reduce the pressures on coral reefs by offering dive and snorkel companies practical, low-cost alternatives to harmful practices — such as anchoring, fish feeding and chemical pollution — as well as providing strategic training, support and resources.
• By reducing the local direct and indirect pressures tourism puts on coral reefs, it helps make corals healthier and more resilient to other stresses such as the effects of climate change. Look for the Green Fins logo when booking your next dive trip.
How does it work?
The Green Fins Hub is intended to catalyse a seismic shift towards sustainability in the marine tourism sector, by hosting two types of Green Fins membership:
i) Digital membership that will be available to dive, snorkel and liveaboard operations globally. Throughout every year of membership, operators will receive environmental scores based on a detailed online self-evaluation and progress made on their action plans.
ii) Green Fins Certified Members will continue to be assessed annually and trained in person at their operation. The assessment process will continue to be based on set criteria using a scoring system (0-330 point system, with a low score implying low impact of a business on coral reefs). As part of the Green Fins Hub, there will now be a minimum threshold (>200 of a maximum environmental impact score) for becoming a Green Fins Certified Member and a ranking of bronze, silver or gold certified members according to performance.
Additional features on the Hub include:
• The Green Fins Community Forum for operators around the world to raise industry needs, discuss environmental issues and share lessons and ideas with like-minded industry leaders, NGOs and governments. For example, dive centres experiencing outbreaks of invasive species like the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar (COTS) at their dive sites can use the forum to gain the resources and expertise to take immediate conservation action.
• The Green Fins Solutions Library gives access to over 100 proven environmental solutions to common daily operational challenges, tried and tested by the Green Fins network for over two decades.
• The Action Plan Tracker: Members will receive an annual sustainability action plan with set goals. An advanced user interface now allows them to track their progress over time.
• Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment, while being closely linked to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of many countries, especially developing countries.
• Maritime or ocean-related tourism, as well as coastal tourism, are for example vital sectors of the economy in small island developing States (SIDS) and coastal least developed countries (LDCs).
• The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities".
• The year 2017 was declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
• In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG target 8.9, aims to “by 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.
• The importance of sustainable tourism is also highlighted in SDG target 12.b. which aims to “develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.
• Tourism is also identified as one of the tools to “by 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries” as comprised in SDG target 14.7.