UNEP launches new worldwide digital platform to encourage sustainable marine tourism

Green Fins Hub will help diving and snorkelling operators worldwide to make simple, cost-efficient changes to their daily practices by utilising tried and tested solutions

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 15 September 2022
Photo: iStock__

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), along with UK-based charity Reef-World Foundation, recently launched the Green Fins Hub, a global digital platform they said would give sustainable marine tourism a ‘major boost’.

The platform will help diving and snorkelling operators worldwide to make simple, cost-efficient changes to their daily practices by utilising tried and tested solutions, a statement by UNEP said.

It would also help them keep track of their annual improvements and communicate with their communities and customers.

Green Fins Hub will host two types of membership. One would be digital membership available for diving, snorkelling and liveaboard operations globally.

“Throughout every year of membership, operators will receive environmental scores based on a detailed online self-evaluation and progress made on their action plans,” the statement said.

Green Fins Certified Members will continue to be assessed annually and trained in person at their operation. The assessment process will continue to be based on set criteria using a scoring system (0-330 point system, with a low score implying low impact of a business on coral reefs).

There will be a minimum threshold (>200 of a maximum environmental impact score) for becoming a Green Fins Certified Member and a ranking of bronze, silver or gold certified members according to performance.

The platform will have other features too. The Green Fins Community Forum will be for operators around the world to raise industry needs, discuss environmental issues and share lessons and ideas with like-minded industry leaders, non-profits and governments.

For example, dive centres experiencing outbreaks of invasive species like the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar at their dive sites can use the forum to gain the resources and expertise to take immediate conservation action.

The Green Fins Solutions Library will give access to over 100 proven environmental solutions to common daily operational challenges. 

The Action Plan Tracker will enable members to receive an annual sustainability action plan with set goals. An advanced user interface will allow them to track their progress over time.

Green Fins Hub is expected to scale up reach to a potential 30,000 operators worldwide from about 700 operators across 14 countries today

The Reef-World Foundation had recently surveyed over 2,400 dive tourists and professionals, of whom 83 per cent said they were looking for further sustainability education on their holiday.

Some 75 per cent said they would pay more for it, but 85 per cent said they found it difficult to see if an operator was sustainable.

“Coral reefs, home to at least 25 per cent of marine life, are the mecca for marine-related tourism, contributing up to 40 per cent or more of the gross domestic product in some island nations.

“However, they are a most vulnerable ecosystem, especially to climate change with the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius being existential for reefs,” Leticia Carvalho, principal coordinator, Marine and Freshwater at UNEP, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Increasing accessibility of best practice, knowledge and citizen science through the Green Fins Hub could be a game changer in ensuring a future for coral reefs and other fragile marine ecosystems, she added.

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