Positive Impact Pioneers: Delphine Malleret King, The Long Run
The Long Run brings together some of the world’s most committed and inspiring nature-based travel businesses, who aspire to the highest standards in sustainability in order to create a positive impact through travel. Its 40 members across 22 countries collectively help conserve over 20-million acres of biodiversity and improve the lives of more than half a million people through tourism.
Here at Jacada, we've signed The Long Run Charter — a document that advocates for a 4Cs approach to sustainability. By addressing our impacts across Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce, we hope that our trips will have a more positive impact world over. We also partner with a number of Long Run properties that not only have the highest standards of sustainability, but also provide travellers with the best possible experiences.
We caught up with The Long Run's Executive Director, Delphine Malleret King, to find out more about The Long Run's story.
What inspired the birth of The Long Run?
The Long Run began back in 2009. The foundations were laid in 2005 though, when Jochen Zeitz bought a ranch in Laikipia (Segera) and was looking for a model to conserve the wilderness he was passionate about. Understanding the need for a holistic and sustainable approach to reach his objectives, Jochen looked for like-minded properties. He brought nine destinations together based on their individual commitment and unique approaches to conservation. They became the founding members of Long Run Initiative, then part of the Zeitz Foundation. The network then evolved to become an independent organisation and charity in 2017.
The innovative practices of members formed The Long Run’s approach and strategy, around Conservation Community Culture and Commerce, coined as the 4Cs by Zeitz Foundation. Today, The Long Run has evolved into one of the world’s largest sustainable development initiatives led by nature-based businesses.
How do you think The Long Run has changed members' approaches to their sustainability practices?
I think a lot of the work The Long Run does is around getting our members to think strategically, especially when it comes to the 4Cs. For example, we worked closely with Grootbos to help them identify what their specific culture was. As a result, they identified the Cape Floral Kingdom as an integral part of their local culture, which completely transformed the way they were initially operating.
Also, at Cottar’s 1920s Camp, we helped the team think strategically about how their property related to local Maasai culture. On a more general scale, we encourage all Long Runners to seek partnerships. It’s about facilitating and getting our members to think in ways that they might not have before.
Can you tell me a bit more about The Long Run's 4Cs approach to sustainability?
The 4Cs framework is a unique approach that allows businesses to internalise their sustainability efforts across four key areas: Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce.
Conservation points to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosytems. It addresses issues such as management of energy, water and waste, land planning and carbon reduction. It also focuses on the restoration and preservation of habitats, ecosystem functions and the conservation of species. Community puts people at the heart of conservation efforts. We encourage our members to support activities that empower and enhance local communities well-being, as well as stimulate the development of inclusive local economies. Culture centres on members’ commitment to strengthening intercultural relationships, safeguarding cultural heritage and raising awareness of cultural diversity. Last but not least, commerce recognises the intrinsic link between profit, natural and social assets and encourages business to be done in a holistic and sustainable way that supports The Long Run’s efforts.
Across these four key themes, members are encouraged to and supported to continuously expand their positive impacts on the health of the planet and well-being of people.
What do you think makes The Long Run stand out as a sustainability leader?
I think that what really makes The Long Run special is the commitment of our membership. We have Fellow Members and Global Ecosphere Retreats (GER)®, which Fellows strive to become. All our destinations provide inspiring examples and GER®s represent the realms of what’s possible. There are no limits to what each member is trying to achieve. I also think it’s important that The Long Run represents a wide diversity of businesses, contexts, and ecosystems – with a common commitment to drive positive change for perpetuity.
Why do you think it's important for the travel industry as a whole to work towards being more sustainable?
I don’t think it’s just the travel industry, I think everyone across the globe should be striving to become more sustainable and work towards nurturing the health of the planet. It’s a pivotal moment and we’re at a crossroads. There have been some shocking statistics revealed recently: we have lost 50% of wildlife in the last 40 years, we are losing species at 1000 times their natural rate, 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air, we’re losing ice at a faster rate than ever before and the list goes on. It’s become clear that governments and NGOs cannot tackle the issues alone, so I think it’s really now down to businesses to get the work.
The Long Run’s members operate in some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, and their work is more critical than ever. Not just for the sake of some of the world’s most vulnerable species, but to mitigate climate change and empower communities to engage in sustainable economies.
The tourism industry has an incredible opportunity, due to its position as a significant global economic player, the number of people it reaches (employees and consumers), and due to the fact that a lot of our work inherently centres around thriving communities and biodiversity. I believe tourism has the potential to have a an exponential effect by transforming people’s attitude through travel.
What advice can you give to businesses that are looking to be more sustainable but aren't sure where to start?
My first piece of advice would be to simply start. Start by thinking about where it is you want to go with your business – the 4Cs framework can be very useful for this. Then, take stock of where you’re currently at and identify key areas where you can easily improve. No one is perfect so don’t expect to have all the others, simply start and start working towards a long-term plan across how your business is going to benefit each of the 4Cs, as well as getting your staff on board. It’s best to make it easy for yourself at the beginning, and seek out partnerships to learn from what’s already been done. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
What are The Long Run's plans for the future?
We’re looking at strengthening our partnerships on a geographical and regional basis, as well as looking into helping businesses who are at the very beginning of their sustainability journeys. At the moment, members of The Long Run already start out as conservationists in some way, so we’d love to work with other businesses to get a more diverse group of people on board. We also plan on continuing to encourage people to take on best practice when it comes to sustainability, and we want to be the best and biggest private nature conservationist alliance out there. Ultimately, our vision is to go beyond tourism and disseminate the 4Cs approach across different sectors.
Head to The Long Run’s website here to find out more about the incredible work Delphine and the team are doing across the globe.
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