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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’.

Jochen Zeitz
Jochen Zeitz

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.

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt
Jochen Zeitz, Colin Jackson and Usain Bolt at a news conference in Munich.
Alasdhair Willis, Jochen Zeitz, Stella McCartney and Usain Bolt at the launch of the Zeitz Foundation.

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.

Shenton Safaris
Simon Espley

I am a proud African, of the digital tribe, and honoured to be CEO of Africa Geographic. My travels in Africa are in search of wilderness, real people with interesting stories and elusive birds. I live in Hoedspruit, next to the Kruger National Park, with my wife Lizz and 2 Jack Russells. When not travelling or working I am usually on my mountain bike somewhere out there. I qualified as a chartered account, but found my calling sharing Africa's incredibleness with you. My motto is "Live for now, have fun, be good, tread lightly and respect others. And embrace change". Connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter.