National Geographic World Legacy Awards - Judging

Riverwind Foundation/Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming, USA

"Our destination has the honor of being home to Yellowstone, the world's first national park. Only through a unified commitment to sustainability by businesses, governments, nonprofits, and citizens can we preserve and protect this iconic landscape while welcoming millions of visitors."

- Tim O'Donoghue, Executive Director, Riverwind Foundation

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

It is an honor to have Jackson Hole's hard work as a strong environmental steward and socially responsible destination recognized by National Geographic, one of the world's most prominent organizations and advocates for sustainable tourism. We also see this as a moment to clarify the challenges and opportunities that remain; express gratitude and encouragement to the many stakeholders that have contributed to our sustainable tourism initiatives; and catalyze our community to take efforts to the next level of education, engagement, and unification.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Riverwind Foundation/Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce?

With more than four million visitors annually, Jackson Hole's economy is based on travel and tourism. Yet as our number of visitors grows each year, so does their impact on this treasured natural environment. The integrity of resources, environmental health, and community character that travelers come here to experience depends on our ability to evolve as a sustainable tourism economy. To prevent, mitigate, and adapt to the impact of visitors and preserve quality of life for all species, we must clearly identify sustainability goals, increase education on global destination sustainability standards, and implement plans that promote sustainable tourism. A unified, comprehensive, action-driven program will not only benefit our own future, but also allow us to serve as a model of sustainable tourism for other destinations.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

The accomplishment that we are proudest of, and continue to build upon, is the quantity, quality, and diversity of stakeholders engaged in our destination. Since our program launched in 2014, more than 200 community stakeholders have participated in Riverwind Foundation and Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program projects. These stakeholders represent federal and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Private citizens and visitors have also become engaged in, and benefited from, our activities. The tangible results and impact of this ever-increasing engagement can be seen in strong participation in sustainability inventory surveys, group training and technical assistance sessions, development of information resources and tools for sustainability planning and implementation, visitor sustainability awareness and education, and the creation and enhancement of "green collar" jobs.

Segera Retreat, Kenya

"Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm, it's about doing more good. Segera is an incubator for innovative change."

- Jochen Zeitz, Owner of Segera, Founder of Zeitz Foundation & Long Run Initiative

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

Being selected as a Finalist for The World Legacy Awards is a huge honor for Segera. Our high-end retreat inspires and excites people about sustainability by proving that you can have the amenities of a five-star resort while reducing impact on the environment. We hope that this World Legacy Awards recognition will help us share that message with the world and inspire others.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Segera Retreat?

Setting a new standard for sustainable tourism and being a driving force in promoting sustainable thinking and practice is at the very core of Segera. Over the last decade, what started as an overgrazed farm with no wildlife and degraded land has been brought to life. Now a destination for adventure, spiritual reflection, and serenity, Segera allows guests to re-connect with nature and immerse themselves in 50,000 acres of pristine wilderness. By pioneering a balance of conservation, community, culture and commerce, Segera is not only one of the world's most luxurious retreats, but also helps secure the future of this vital wildlife habitat, the surrounding Ewaso ecosystem, and inspires visitors to live more sustainable lifestyles.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

Segera's ecologically sound practices create comfort for guests while existing in total harmony with our surroundings. Our vast solar installations provide all of the retreat's energy - heating outdoor baths and our steam tower. Recycled and captured rain water feeds our gardens, where fresh organic vegetables are grown for guest meals. Keeping vital migration routes open to surrounding environments allows abundant wildlife to wander the land in safety and provides a permanent refuge to many endangered species. We also have a powerful effect on the lives and livelihood of the communities alongside our retreat. Six nearby schools built by the Zeitz Foundation have won recognition for innovative eco-practices and rainwater harvesting, allowing children to grow their own vegetables and take drinking water home to their families. Each day, we seek new ways to make Segera a catalyst for inspiration and change.

Slovenian Tourist Board, Slovenia

"Slovenians have green hearts. Sharing our unspoiled nature and sustainable vision through tourism can help us make our country, and the world, a better place."

- Maja Pak, Director, Slovenian Tourist Board

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

Applying for the World Legacy Awards was an important opportunity for us to evaluate our own green tourism vision, experiences, challenges, accomplishments, and effectiveness. With 60 percent of our land covered in trees, Slovenia is one of Europe's most biodiverse countries, home to more than 22,000 plant and animal species. We believe that by choosing sustainable tourism, we are choosing to keep our nation and our planet safe, clean, and green. Being selected as a Finalist is proof that our sustainable initiatives are succeeding, an honor that encourages and motivates us to do even more.

Why is sustainable tourism important to the Slovenian Tourist Board?

Our commitment to sustainable tourism reflects Slovenia's overall national goal to be one of the world's most sustainable countries. Our green focus is also key to our competitiveness, a true point of difference that makes Slovenia stand out from other tourist destinations. Above all else, we treasure and take pride in our natural environment. Today hundreds of designated conservation sites comprise 37 percent of our landscape, protecting homes for animal, plant, and bird species. Slovenians love to share these green corners with travelers and believe we must do everything we can to conserve our wealth of unspoiled places and cultural heritage.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

The Slovenian Tourist Board unifies all efforts for sustainable development through the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism. This structured, national certification program has proved a concrete and successful way to bring together hundreds of tourist associations, set guidelines, encourage tourism service providers and destinations to adopt sustainable practices, and measure results. Already dozens of destinations and providers bear the Slovenia Green label. In fact, in 2016, the Global Green Destinations Conference declared Slovenia the world's most sustainable country destination, with 96 percent compliance to the Green Destination Standard. Guided by a singular vision, clear benchmarks, and a culture of continual improvement, we are moving tourism toward our ultimate national goal: a 100 percent green Slovenia.

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