Industry leaders, delegates, buyers and visitors to WTM Africa, taking place in Cape Town from 11 – 13 April, will have the opportunity to reduce their trip’s carbon emissions by supporting Greenpop – a non-profit organisation focussed on forest restoration, urban greening, food gardening, and environmental awareness projects across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Sustainability is top of mind at this year’s event, and more and more delegates want to make a difference,” observes Megan Oberholzer of RX Africa, the force behind WTM Africa.
The partnership with Greenpop has made it simple to ‘make a difference’. By buying a tree for just R120 on the Greenpop website attendees can address their carbon footprint and make a meaningful contribution to ecosystem restoration.
“Greenpop is looking forward to the upcoming WTM Africa conference and being able to engage with innovative tourism operators and organisations. With their help, we hope to plant thousands of trees to restore forests in Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Carla Wessels, Partnership and Communications Manager Greenpop.
This is an important initiative because as Oberholzer explains, conferences traditionally have a heavy environmental footprint.
“Several factors contribute to this. For a start, most delegates need to travel to the venue, and even if air travel is not required, they still make use of shuttles, buses and taxis to travel to and from meetings and post-conference social events,” says Oberholzer. “Added to this, the materials used by delegates amplify the impact; often, food is sourced from various locations in order to prepare delegate meals, and there is frequently a large amount of food waste. Name badges, pens, pamphlets, writing pads and paper all carry their own carbon footprint; plus, there’s the question of increased energy usage as well as waste disposal for the duration of the event. All of this adds up. To look at one example, the 2015 Paris Climate Talks generated over 300 000 tons of carbon dioxide.”
But things are changing. Oberholzer notes that role players in the events industry are exploring different ways to offset their emissions and reduce their footprint.
“What is exciting about this partnership with Greenpop, is that attendees to WTM Africa will be contributing to ecosystem restoration projects, which focus on rejuvenating ecosystems that play a critical role in, for example, food production, and have a positive impact on communities in Africa.”
According to Oberholzer, Greenpop’s approach resonates with RX Africa for a number of reasons.
“The organisation has done outstanding work, planting over 150 000 trees worldwide. They are leaders in forest restoration and community greening projects,” says Oberholzer.
“Delegates at WTM Africa can take heart from the knowledge that the trees they purchase from Greenpop not only help to mitigate climate change; they also boost biodiversity, prevent erosion and recharge groundwater, while providing habitats for animals. This initiative has so many benefits – we’re proud of the fact that one simple action can have such significant and far-reaching impacts,” says Oberholzer.
“Africa’s natural resources is one of the continent’s hugest assets, and one of the features that will, of course, come under the spotlight at an event dedicated to promoting and facilitating tourism in the region,” Oberholzer continues. “This makes our collaboration with Greenpop even more meaningful.
“As event organisers, we at RX Africa recognize that we have an opportunity to address our industry’s shortcomings when it comes to environmental issues, and we look forward to doing this,” she concludes.
Click HERE for more info on WTMA’s responsible tourism programme, which includes topics on environmental sustainability and greening…