I’m skeptical about big business and the lightly veneered “sustainability” PR spin that we so often see. And then there are the CEOs of cash-flush companies that defend a complete lack of investment into people and the planet, with statements like “we can’t do sustainability if there is no financial return”. Huh?
And so I sit up and take notice when one of the world’s business leaders actually walks the talk, with genuine intent, and when the beneficiaries include Africa’s people and natural splendor.
If you know the international luxury, sport and lifestyle retail industries then you will have heard of Jochen Zeitz – think Puma, Gucci and Saint Laurent Paris (formerly YSL). And if you scratch deeper you will find that he is very serious about true sustainability, where it’s about the ‘long run’.
I think back of the enormous role played by visionary leaders in highly effective entities like WWF (Prince Bernhard), Peace Parks (Dr Anton Rupert) and African Parks (Paul van Vlissengen) and I get the feeling that this relatively young leader is going down the same path. There seems to be a steely determination to succeed, and a solid strategy. I am liking what I see.
So what does this mean for Africa’s people and biodiversity? Well, lots.
In essence the Zeitz Foundation’s goal is to foster sustainable ecosystem management, by:
• Establishing a network of destinations that are in it for the ‘long run’;
• Implementing a certification system Global Ecosphere Retreats ® (GER) for these destinations;
• Investing into initiatives that improve the integrity of ecosystems;
• Following the ‘Long run’ philosophy, which broadly means acting today for a better tomorrow.
The focus is on the ‘4Cs’, namely conservation, community, culture and commerce.
Ambassadors that have signed up include Usain Bolt and Vivienne Westwood.
African establishments that have already passed the GER certification include Segera Retreat (Kenya), Chumbe Island Choral Park (Tanzania) and Wolwedans (Namibia). These establishments are early pioneers that deserve a standing ovation.
Long Run alliance members from Africa include Saruni Samburu (Kenya), Campi ya Kanzi (Kenya), Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (South Africa), Mombo Camp (Botswana), Nkwichi Lodge (Mozambique), Cottars 1920’s Camp (Kenya), Lemarti’s Camp (Kenya), Nirox Foundation (South Africa), Dumatau Camp (Botswana) and Toka Leya Camp (Zambia).
Africa Geographic is a proud Long Run supporter.
Watch this space.