World Environment Day calls on all of us to be responsible in our conduct in the environment. The onus rests not only on large manufacturing corporations but on small and medium enterprises, communities and most importantly, individuals.
5 June is celebrated as World Environment Day in more than 100 countries across the world, recognising the need to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time, ‘beating plastic pollution’. By making changes in our everyday lives, we can all reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural environment, our wildlife and our own health. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over reliant on single-use or disposable plastic – with severe environmental consequences.
In Namibia, Blue Crane Safaris Namibia, a tour operator, is contributing to the preservation of the environment. Senior tour consultant and owner, Derek Jacobs explains, “We are a tour operator in Namibia running our tours in a responsible way”.
As the Blue Crane Safaris tour guides take their guests around the beautiful Namibian landscape, they ensure that they keep Namibia clean. They also educate their guests and local Namibians on the importance of reducing plastic usage as well as not littering. Whether out on tour or in the bounds of the city, this remains top of mind for the team.
“We have recently replaced the use of plastic bottles with Blue Crane Safari Aluminium water bottles which our clients receive when they go on tour with us. We refill the bottles for our clients from a water tank installed on each car”, says Derek.
One of the many ways to ‘beat plastic pollution’ is by utilising reusable containers such as the ones Blue Crane have introduced. The result – Blue Crane Safaris is removing approximately 50 plastic bottles per person on a given tour. This is a lot of plastic which will not end up in landfills or in the environment.
This is merely a first step for the tour operator who believes that every little bit will make an impact in the long run. Derek continues, “I believe that educating people on the dangers and risks that plastic and other types of litter pose to the environment is imperative at all levels in society, at work, at school, in the home and at church”.
The company is a member of Tosco Trust, a non-profit organisation linking the tourism industry to local people, conservation organisations and research. Blue Crane Safaris contributes a portion of its revenue to the trusts work, including in human conflict in Damaraland, environmental education and Rhino poaching, amongst others. Tosco Trust trains local people in the rural areas about sustainable development and the importance of keeping the country clean.
Being in the tour operating business for close to twenty years, Derek is aware of the important role his company plays in making a positive impact on the environment. With the vast landscapes and diverse wildlife as their daily office, keeping the environment clean has a long-term impact on Namibia.
“We are here to bring and show lots of tourists Namibia. If the country is dirty and littered with plastic and rubbish everywhere, we will not have tourists coming anymore. It does not just affect the landscape but the animals and the entire ecosystem”, Derek explains.
Keeping Namibia clean not only has an environmental impact but also an economic impact. Tourism contributes 13.8% to Namibia’s GDP and is an important sector for employment creation, and by ensuring that the country is clean, tourists will continue coming back. The team at Blue Crane Safaris does everything in their power to educate local Namibians on the importance of keeping Namibia clean for this reason.
From their vantage point, Blue Crane Safaris has front row seats when it comes to experiencing the natural beauty of the Namibian environment, whether in the Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Kaokaland, Etosha, Caprivi or Bushman Land. They also have the privilege of showcasing the country’s best assets every day and are thus zoomed in on preservation of the environment.
When asked what tourists like most about Namibia, Derek asserts that the people and the clean environment top the list. “From my personal experience tourists love the people, the open spaces and our clean country – they always comment on how clean Namibia is”, says Derek.
Blue Crane Safaris is a Namibian owned and managed tour operator, with 18 Namibians employed. The company have been operating since 2007 and touring around the country. From his experience, Derek says his biggest concern is the lack of care demonstrated by local Namibians when it comes to the environment. Derek explains, “The local Namibians sometimes do not care about the environment, and that concerns me. As a nation we cannot just think about today and not about tomorrow. We really need to stand together and stop littering”.
For the small team at Blue Crane Safaris, it is up to everyone in Namibia to take action and be part of the movement to preserve our natural environment and keep the picturesque landscapes litter free. “It is the responsibility of all companies and organisations, big or small in Namibia to educate their staff about the importance of keeping the environment clean, and that, bolstered with action, will make a positive impact for the generations to come”, Derek concludes.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states our resolve, “to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources”. In particular, Goals 14 and 15 focus on protecting under water and on land ecosystems as well as on sustainably using marine and terrestrial resources.
This World Environment Day, UN Environment is asking you, companies and civil society groups, to take a concrete action to Beat Plastic Pollution. Let’s all help to clean up our environment. You can register your #BeatPlasticPollution activity and join the movement!