Conservation crusader, renowned primatologist, and Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus Dr. Jane Goodall talks about her hope for the future and the double-edged sword of tourism.
Think Small, Act Locally:
People say think globally, act locally. Well, if you think globally, it is overwhelming and you do not have enough energy left to act locally. Just act locally and see what a difference you can make. We are constantly told to buy more, buy, buy, buy! But do we really need it? It starts with trying to live a more sustainable life in the small decisions we make every day.
The Perks of Being a Tourist:
Many wildlife species such as chimps and gorillas would not survive without tourism. I know how people have been utterly changed by looking into the eyes of a wild chimpanzee. They are never the same again. The message is not to stop tourism, but to make sure we get it right. In essence, tourism is good, provided the benefits accrue to the local people so they become partners in saving nature.
The Next Generation:
Everywhere I go in the world there are young people with brightness in their eyes eager to tell me what they are doing to make this a better world for animals, people, and the environment. They are having a huge impact in their communities. They tell me that protecting nature is now part of who they are. Once they start thinking like that, they will take it into their adult lives and pass it on to their own children.
The Path Forward:
Turning 80 [in 2014] only strengthened my resolve to do as much as I can in whatever time I have remaining to protect animals and inspire a new generation of conservation activists. I started Roots and Shoots in Tanzania in 1991. Today we have 150,000 youth groups in 138 countries supporting wildlife sanctuaries and community development. But my work is not yet finished.
Nat Geo World Legacy Awards honor sustainable tourism in action.
Costas Christ is on the sustainable travel beat at National Geographic. Follow him on Twitter @CostasChrist.