Founded by the Zeitz Foundation in 2009, The Long Run Initiative (LRI) is a growing community of destinations and organizations committed to human wellbeing through responsible enterprise on a healthy planet premised on a holistic balance in Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce (4C). The focus is on tourism industry. It is built around two key components of Global Ecosphere Retreats® (GER) Standard and membership: (a) Long Run Destinations - LRD; (b) Long Run Alliance Members – LRAM, and (c) Long Run Supporters – LRD. LRD and LRAM are commercially viable sustainable destinations making the core of The Long. LRS represent the broader LRI constituency.
The GER® is an exceptional sustainability assurance standard in that it is:
- most comprehensive in its coverage of all the 4C;
- takes destinations on a journey of continuous improvement;
- more about positive contributions to the wellbeing of the planet and the people;
- premised the GER® recognition to be earned than granted;
- based on owning, directly managing or significantly influencing areas of high conservation value
- essential for the GER® destinations to strive for commercially profitability to demonstrate conserving as an economic imperative
- therefore, open only to the best of best in destinations;
Protected areas management is often regarded as a management issue plagued by inadequate governance and regulatory frameworks. Recently, the ‘governance’ basket is being unpacked where it is no longer equated with government and where voluntary and market mechanisms are evolving as effective and, at times, preferable mechanisms for protected areas governance. This is reflected in the growth of private protected areas and associated tourism certification systems. The challenges of public and community protected areas are admittedly more complex and bigger but the successful evolution of the private protected areas offers lessons that can be usefully employed across all protected areas. The challenge is that not all tourism certifications are geared to securing the future of protected areas. They are uneven in their contributions and impact. Some, despite all good intents, may even have negative impacts on protected areas by inadvertently stimulating mass tourism. There is a compelling need to develop systems that are particularly designed to conserve pristine areas of high conservation value (protected areas). Whether private, community or publicly owned, these areas must deliver their economic promise, through profitable but responsible enterprise, to strengthen the business case for their conservation over the long term.
- Coalition of like-minded businesses committed to responsible enterprise that also helps the plant and the people;
- A sustainability standard system (GER®) that goes beyond compliance assessment to help businesses and communities on the journey of continuous improvement on the path of excellence in sustainability; • An adequate impact monitoring system to strengthen and communicate the business case for scaling up and across the sectors;
- Biodiversity can’t be conserved on ethical arguments alone; it must deliver its economic promise and potential to compete with other land-uses;
- Islands of successes do not make for a global movement; conscious efforts for scaling up are essential;
- The business community is positively engaging;
- All businesses are not converted but visionary business leaders are leading the effort, in increasing numbers and through pre-competition collaborative efforts;
- Performance standards must not only set the bar high enough but also allow consumers make informed comparison to reward environmentally responsible investment and business behaviours;
In less than 5 years, at the end of 2013, the LRI community reached 78 members conserving more than 12 million acres of biodiversity, across all sorts of private, community and public protected areas, sustaining livelihoods and supporting economies around the world. Together the Nine accredited Long Run Destinations alone invested more than USD 2 million in their 4C efforts during 2013.