By Sebastian Aristizabal (Communication Volunteer)
Sunday the 5th of June saw the annual celebration of World Environment Day. The World Environment Day is primarily to raise awareness about environmental issues and encouraging positive environmental action. With celebrations of the day beginning on 1972, the day has grown to become one of the main mediums for which the UN promotes environmental causes and encourages political action as well as inviting others to join in. This was important day for us to reflect on the environmental issues we face every day and what it is we do to help. At Voluntario Global, this is a topic which we are very involved with, having projects which are directly involved with helping the environment and being a member of the Red de Turismo Responsable (Responsible Tourism Network).
Voluntario Global employs volunteers from all over the world, bringing them to live in Argentina for various amounts of time, and allowing them an experience completely different to tourists coming to Argentina for a holiday. Nonetheless, the volunteers still come to see the sights, travel around the country, and enjoy what Argentina has to offer, effectively making them tourists. This is why the organisation sees the need to be part of the Red de Tourismo Responsible. This organisation is made up of public, private and civil society sectors such as tourism agencies, hotels and hostels and organizations. These institutes all aim to promote the development and consumption of responsible tourism.
Responsible tourism is tourism which takes responsibility for its actions whilst visiting a place. Whilst traveling, you should consider the outcome of your actions just as much as you do at home, and although some of the services in countries you visit are less environmentally friendly, you should still make it your responsibility to be as eco-friendly as you are back home.
As well as working in communications for Voluntario Global, I also volunteer at the Red de Turismo Responsable. We are just in the final stages of finishing a video campaign. The video campaign aims to get people thinking about their actions when they visit by asking them to upload a 10 second clip on YouTube saying what it is they do for the environment while they are traveling, on holiday or on business. These small things which we do are what makes a difference and is what makes you a responsible tourist. From making sure you turn off the air-conditioner in your hotel room to using public transport instead of getting taxis, if we ensure to follow the same rules we do at home, we ensure that the negative impact we have on the environment we visit is as low as possible.
The week following World Environment Day sees events continue. As volunteers in a foreign country we should take this week to consider our actions and make sure we are doing as much as we can to help the environment during our time in Argentina and while traveling. Keep an eye out for the launch of the video campaign and be sure to tell us how you help the environment while travelling!