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.
Stay at one of our Long Run properties...
Grootbos Private Reserve$$$$$Perfectly poised on the headland between two bays and at the heart of what is considered the ‘whale watching Mecca’ of the world, the 2,500-hectare Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is well-positioned to enjoy the area’s thrilling to its more relaxing of activities. Part of what makes Grootbos extra special is the property’s commitment to making a positive impact through various projects. From diving with great white sharks, horse riding on wild Atlantic beaches, spotting whales and pods of dolphin cavorting in Walker Bay to tasting regional wines, discovering the unique heritage of towns such as De Kelders and Hermanus, and trekking through the intriguing fynbos flora and fauna of its reserves and valleys – you won’t be short of things to do here on the Whale Coast and at Grootbos. For budding botanists, the reserve encompasses a vast swathe of the beautiful Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of earth’s six recognised floral kingdoms. There are two fabulous places to stay here – the homely Garden Lodge and contemporary Forest Lodge – as well as two fabulous Private Villas, all of which admire incredible vistas to the sea and mountains.
Misool Eco Resort$$$$$This private island resort, hidden deep within a pristine archipelago of jungle-covered, uninhabited islands, is 20km by boat from the nearest village. Given its remote location and delicate natural surroundings, this tropical hideaway, home to white sandy beaches and 300,000 acres of coral reefs, created the Misool Private Marine Reserve to protect its precious marine life in 2005. The eco-mindset carries on into the luxurious accommodation, constructed entirely out of reclaimed tropical hardwoods. Eight overwater cottages are built on stilts over the north lagoon, just steps away from the dive centre and restaurant. In the same area, there’re four slightly larger villas. On the powder-white beach on the other side of the island, you’ll find seven villas, overlooking a blue swimming hole. All the rooms feature Balinese-style open-air bathrooms, air-conditioning and handcrafted furniture. A maximum of 40 guests can stay at Misool Eco Resort at any one time, and with three staff to every guest, you can be assured of exclusivity and excellent service. A stay here not only directly supports numerous conservation initiatives but also provides sustainable employment opportunities to the local people. Diving and snorkelling on the reef are perhaps the most rewarding activities here, and the dive centre is truly world-class. You can also swim with stingless jellyfish in a marine lake, discover the island’s flora and fauna, spend the afternoon on your very own beach, visit a local fishing village, see 5000-year-old petroglyphs on Misool Island, take a traditional Indonesian cooking class or explore the archipelago on stand-up paddleboards.
Pacuare Lodge$$$$$It could be the remote and unrivalled seclusion of Pacuare Lodge’s setting in 740 acres of primary rainforest or its luxury cabins emerging from the thick milieu of foliage that makes this a great place to stay: but the combination is what transforms it into a truly unique one. There is no road access to the Lodge so guests have the chance to arrive in style by raft or helicopter. The Pacuare Reserve is home to toucans, howler monkeys, and a large variety of birds meaning your stay here is an intimate one with nature and located on the banks of the Pacuare River the hotel has the advantage of offering a wealth of activities, such as expert wildlife and jungle expeditions all right from your canopy threshold. Simply but sumptuously furnished with polished wood floors, local art and open-plan living, the 20 bungalows and suites are constructed with local wood timber frames and palm thatch roofs expertly embrace this tropical habitat and jungle lifestyle. The choice of rooms and suites range from luxury garden bungalows and riverside suites to tree-top honeymoon and Linda Vista suites that look out onto unparalleled views of the river and jungle. Some have their own private infinity plunge pools. At night the lodge is lit by candlelight, creating a magical honeycomb-like effect, and delicious food is served at the main restaurant along with wines from its own cellar. There is also a beautiful new swimming pool, heated by special radiating tiles.