The 4 Pillar Approach To Sustainable Tourism

Finding Balance in Tourism

Building a business for the most part is pretty simple. You have an idea, create a plan & execute. At the end of the year you hope you hit your targets and are able to cover all your costs and generate enough revenue to make it worth your while.

However in the Tourism Industry(and we would hope with all business models) sometimes it helps to consider a deeper possibility. A possibility where the positive impacts can be felt across 4 areas. This approach ensures an even playing field for all and challenges us to become the best versions of ourselves. While we as a business are far from achieving this balance, we are committed to do what we can to meet these guidelines.

The four pillars include: Environmental Responsibility, Social Equity, Economic Health, and Cultural Vitality. While it is useful to organize sustainability in terms of these four pillars, it is the integration between them that will drive sustainability, highlight opportunities for innovation and reduce duplication of efforts.

Enviromental Pillar: Enviromental Responsibility

The essential spirit is described by the American naturalist and preservationist John Muir: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

This quote has particular relevance for the environmental pillar, as all human activities have an impact on the environment. Conversely, the relative health of the environment will determine and will contribute to the nature and scale of activities in the other pillar areas of this plan: economic, cultural and social. While all of the pillars have the same standing in Sustainability the environment does have a first principle position in that without a life‐sustaining environment, the other three pillars cease to exist.

Earlier in this plan, we noted some of the major global environmental challenges: climate change, dwindling nonrenewable resources, shrinking natural habitats, diminishing biodiversity, ocean acidification; and increasing human population pressures. Clearly, all of these issues have economic, social and cultural elements.

By acknowledging the prominence of the environmental pillar, we do not mean that the other pillars are less important. To the contrary, this prominence reinforces the need for an integrated approach to all of the themes. The foundational challenges and origins of sustainability may be environmental, but it will take a holistic approach engaging all pillars to deal with these challenges.

Our contribution with our tree planting initiatives in local indigenous communities and having sponsored Omar Tello founder of Jardin Botanico las Orquideas, Puyo, has seen more than 1,000 trees planted to support the environmental pillar.

Social Pillar: Social Equity

The Social Equity Pillar will help social agencies and residents to raise awareness about social needs and to engage both citizens and community partners to plan and act in response to these needs. The end result will be to improve the well-being of the whole community. Together, we will build social capital in the community between individuals and groups in order to enable collaborative action on projects of common interest.

Though Social Equity is often hard to quantify, measures which evaluate income, employment, literacy, access to housing and health care among many others, are both available and useful. With this, stress the importance of personal and group well-being and security, including full access to effective health care, housing, food, and education services – these being the essential prerequisites for full participation in cultural, environmental, and economic activities.

As part of CarpeDM Adventures, we don’t have any formal documentation to support this pillar. However, through the years, we have sponsored 2 children through the foundation of REMAR to continue their education.

Economic Pillar: Economic Health

Developing an economy depends on building many relationships and partnerships with businesses, industry leaders, educational institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and the community at large. Our economy relies upon, and is built upon, a strong cultural, social, and environmental foundation.

We must continue to enhance quality of place and quality of life, to continue to attract and retain talented people and quality businesses. Our social values – as expressed by our educational opportunities, crime rate, levels of poverty, access to housing, doctors and daycare .

The Economic Pillar is focused on the attraction of new businesses and people to Ecuador. Existing businesses and the jobs they create, are critical components of a strong, sustainable economy.

Together we can achieve and be the difference that makes the difference. As CarpeDM, we support local community initiatives. Tschalias is one program where 100% of the money goes directly to the family. With a share in Caiman Eco-lodge and Tucan Eco-lodge, our commitment to local community development is paramount to providing opportunities that empower growth & sustainability for all parties involved.

Cultural Pillar: Cultural Vitality

The fundamental objective of any sustainable community is the promotion of human well‐being through enhancing both quality of life and quality of place. This is the focus of the Cultural Pillar.

To this end, the basic role of art, culture, and heritage has long been to bring beauty into our daily lives. But these also nurture individual and community identity, promote social cohesion, and contribute to the creation of “social capital.” Where social capital is strong, communities exhibit high rates of volunteerism and citizen involvement as well as greater inclusion of all sectors of society in the social and cultural fabric. Also, a community that is rich in social capital provides a wealth of intelligence, sensitivity, and wisdom that will underpin and support appropriate ecological, economic, and social sustainability strategies.

Further, such creative, vibrant, and resilient places are attractive to investors in industry, business, and tourism and thus create employment opportunities, expand the tax‐base, and generally add real wealth of the community. Thus, the Cultural Pillar demonstrates the core of the Four Pillars approach to sustainability: each pillar must not stand alone; all pillars must benefit from the strength of the others; and to do this, they must be bound together by a shared vision of what it is they are supporting.

At CarpeDM Adventures, we have 3 great examples of the Cultural Pillar. Working closely with the Tschallias of Santo Domingo, Schuar of Puyo and Waorani from Daimontaro, we offer volunteer and eco-tourism programs to highlight and provide a cultural exchange, where all proceeds go directly to the community. These are really a once in a lifetime experiences and goes a long way to ensure that these community programs continue to flourish & provide the necessary economic support for all families involved. With more than 10 years working with these communities, we would be delighted to share with you more information on how you can be a part of this experience.