A Closer Look at Tourism: What Does Mass tourism Truly Cost?

A Closer Look at Tourism: What Does Mass tourism Truly Cost?

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! This first article will give you some contextual numbers on the way tourism is consumed around the world and will introduce you to some disastrous consequences of mass tourism. Next time, we’ll try to answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the latter can be dealt with. In the third piece, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

 

A few numbers to start

More and more people are travelling each year. In 2019, 1.5 billion tourists were counted. Before the pandemic, prevision stated that in 2030, they would be around 1.8 billion.

 

The development of aviation and low-cost fares has made travelling more affordable for a great number of  people. Still, let’s keep in mind that, in 2017, only 1 human out of 5 had taken a flight in their life. 80% of the world’s population was still with a record free of flying. Of course, these statistics are constantly evolving, with  more newbies travelling  by plane each year – when there is no pandemic. But still, take the time to think of how many times you had the privilege to sit on a plane by 2017. Closer to home, another striking statistic is that, in Britain, 1% of the population took 20% of the overseas flights.

 

According to statistics, the vast majority of people want to go to the same places. 95% of travelers explore only 5% of the planet. This phenomenon is highly encouraged by social media. We all want that perfect picture to post on Instagram, that the whole world will then copy. It is known that, in France, 59% of the population aged between 25 and 35 pick their travel destination in relation to its “Instagram potential”.

 

Europeans remain the biggest travelers, with 622 million of us taking vacations abroad every year. The Chinese population tends to travel more and more as well, due to their growing economy, with 150 million travelers in 2018. The projection for 2020, pre-Covid, was about 200 million, whereas they were about 10 million in 2000.

 

Two examples of mass tourism consequences

Elephants in Thailand

The fascination surrounding wildlife has become a large business. In Thailand, Surin Elephant Round-Up is a big attraction for tourists. This cultural festival, held every year in November, offers the possibility to “ride” an elephant for 8 minutes for 3€. However, studies have shown that climbing on top of an elephant breaks its back. Several NGOs campaigned on social media to raise awareness and prevent tourists from riding elephants. Yet, 40% of tourists that visit Thailand want to “take a ride”. When asked about the situation, tourists getting off elephants’ backs often hide behind the fact that they are on vacation to have fun and relax and that the elephants don’t seem unhappy. 

 

During the evening, tourists are entertained with great varieties of shows where the animals are “asked” – understand, forced – to walk on two legs, to play football, to dance, etc. None of these activities are instinctive or natural for an elephant. They had to be taught to do so. The Thai technique to discipline an elephant is called “Phajaan”. Considered to be a tradition, this technique implies training by obliteration. Some trainers explain that it’s been done this way for generations, and anyone who tried another way has failed. To learn, the elephants have to be in pain, they have to bleed. When performing, trainers tend to be as discreet as possible to stab the elephant with hooks or other tools, due to the blame-shaming situation. And some tourists are completely oblivious. During their time-off, elephants have to stay still, restrained by chains or ropes, without the option of sitting down. At no point are they treated with respect.  

 

I could write many more lines to illustrate what I found out about the way elephants and other wild animals are treated to “please” the tourists. But instead, I’d rather let you know that alternatives exist. If you go to Thailand, your voice matters as much as any other to set a good example. Some sanctuaries for elephants are opened to the public, where the public are in a cage to look at the animals, not the other way around. You won’t climb on elephants, they won’t do tricks for you, they’ll be healing from that previous life. If you want to see an elephant, there are ethical ways to do so. As explained by the biggest activist on the matter, Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, “tourists have their responsibilities too. Only they can truly make things change.”

 

On a note of hope, some countries, such as Cambodia, already prohibited elephant slavery. Moreover, travel agencies, including Tripadvisor, refuse to take part in those exploitations and won’t promote or sell tickets for such activities. On Instagram, if you post a picture or a selfie with a wildlife-threat hashtag (e.g. #TigerSelfie), you’ll automatically receive a prevention message like this one 

 

Protect Wildlife on Instagram

Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”

 

Angkor Temples in Cambodia 

If you follow numerous travel accounts on Instagram too – especially when going to the grocery store is your most adventurous  moment of the week – then you must have seen some pictures of Angkor Temples. While those photos make you dream and inspire you to contemplate a peaceful and majestic scenery, the behind the scenes are far from peaceful. Loads of tourists flock to get the perfect picture of the sun rising behind the main Temple, using all kinds of tricks to pretend they were alone.

 

This wonder from Cambodia was closed for many years, under the Khmer regime, before being brought back to the collective memory by UNESCO, listing the monument as a “World Heritage in danger” site. Over the last  25 years, Angkor has seen the numbers of tourists explode: from 40,000 visits a year in 1994, to 4.5 million in 2019. And of course, the site has suffered from such an increase. But the number of visitors is not the only reason for the deterioration of the monument. In fact, the main reason is the behaviour of those visitors on the site. “The temple was a very serene place and became profaned by tourists’ selfish desires. We have to educate them”, explains a guide in Angkor, showing tags on temples walls where some people engraved their names. Therefore, the Government decided to act to educate visitors; shooting countless videos about how to enjoy the monument in a sustainable way, and humorous videos imagining the meeting between uncivilized tourists and the builders of the Temple.

 

But the problem isn’t contained in the cultural site. Tourism impacts a whole region. Next to Angkor lies Siem Reap, a “dormitory city” where the majority of  tourists stay the night. This city keeps growing with the demand. But its hidden face is the ocean of waste left behind tourists. Siem Reap is home to one of the biggest landfill sites in Cambodia. On average, 250 tons of waste per day is stocked there, and it is estimated that 70% originates  from the tourism industry. The rubbish tip is now almost at the extent of its capacity. Everyone was surprised by the speed of Siem Reap’s development. Neither the authorities, nor the locals, had anticipated this, and they had no time to figure out the organisation that should come along with it. Poor families from the area come and collect trash that is recyclable (bottles of plastic, cans, etc.), and therefore sellable, to afford school costs. After their passage, the waste is buried into the ground. If you’re an ecologist activist, don’t forget to breathe while processing this. You read correctly. All the waste left behind, including shreds of plastic, are “hidden” in the soil. 

 

This is just a glimpse of tourism’s dark side that we don’t always (want to) see. In the next piece, I’ll address a few questions raised by mass tourism. Stay tuned!

 

 

Photo from Jezz Timms

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Closer Look at Tourism: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

Five Stages to Freedom and the New Zealand Confusion

On Friday May 1st Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five stage plan for reopening Ireland after the coronavirus lockdown. This plan will go into effect on May 18th and will continuingly unlock restrictions at three week intervals if Covid-19 numbers continue to be stagnant or lessen. If Covid-19 numbers increase then Ireland may go back into lockdown as a result. The biggest take away from this is that most people are not going to have a bit of craic until stage 4 or 5.

Corporations, Human Rights and Accountability

In March of 2019, Trócaire launched their campaign for a binding treaty that aims to hold corporations accountable for breaches of human rights. I spoke with Siobhan Curran, Trócaire’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor – Human Rights and Democratic Space to find out what it’s all about and why it’s important.

‘I Want My Life Back’ – The Growing Anti-Lockdown Movements

At the beginning of April, German lawyer Beate Bahner was apprehended in her home in Heidelberg by police and brought directly to the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic. A strange story, perhaps made stranger (and indeed fodder for conspiratorial types) given her recent opposition to the stringent lockdown measures introduced by the German federal government. Is this a tale of political silencing? And why is there a growing movement to end lockdown restrictions?

Why We Need Feminist Leadership in a Pandemic (And Beyond)

Why We Need Feminist Leadership in a Pandemic (And Beyond)

Let’s begin with some stark statistics. 49.55% of the global population is female. Yet, the global participation rate of women in national parliaments is 24%. Fewer than 10% of countries are led by women. 

 

The good news? Many of these women leaders are fast becoming household names (for the right reasons) due to their calm and creative handling of politics, including during the coronavirus crisis. 

 

A recent Forbes article discussed the common denominator in countries with the best coronavirus response: women leaders. It highlighted how the approaches of Angela Merkel in Germany, Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, Katrín Jakobsdóttir in Iceland, Sanna Marin (the world’s youngest Head of State) in Finland, Mette Frederiksen in Denmark, and Erna Solberg in Norway are “gifting us an attractive alternative way of wielding power”

 

Ardern in particular has been praised for her leadership style as well as for her proactive action in moving swiftly to lockdown her country (when there were only six cases) and making all those entering the country observe a strict quarantine regime. As a result of this decisive ‘elimination strategy’, New Zealand has had an extremely low number of deaths. Ardern’s proactive strategy is very different from  the more reactive decision-making strategies many other countries are following. 

 

While time will ultimately decide which countries emerge on top of the coronavirus league tables, the signs are positive that countries with women at the helm will have some of the best outcomes. 

 

Women are often said to bring different leadership qualities to the table, and the Forbes article highlights the leadership lessons these women have been teaching us: truth, decisiveness, positive use of technology and social media, care, compassion – even ‘love’, demonstrating how these characteristics have been revealed through their words and actions. 

 

These approaches can be contrasted with those displayed by some male leaders who have been stealing the Covid-spotlight recently: Donald Trump in the U.S., Boris Johnson in the U.K., Jair Bolsanaro in Brazil, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Vladamir Putin in Russia. These leaders have been using the Covid-19 crisis as a power grab opportunity, and have gambled with the health of their citizens in the process. 

 

Times of crisis can act as a focus for what is truly important, on a political as well as an individual level. Covid-19 has exposed the deep-rooted structural issues underpinning our social, political and economic systems. It has helped shine a light on many ‘silent pandemics’ which have been lurking below the surface: the public health emergency, the domestic violence epidemic, and poverty crises even in seemingly ‘rich’ countries. It has shown how we are emphatically not ‘all in this together’, with inequities of gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality (among others) greatly contributing to vulnerability to, and experiences of, the outbreak.

 

Many different types of leadership are  being modelled for us right now. This is a globally significant time to take stock and (re)evaluate – what kind of politics do we want to have post-this? 

 

Leila Billing’s recent article, ‘What does Feminist Leadership look like in a Pandemic’, explores what feminist leadership can offer us: an intersectional focus (a recognition that ‘we’re only as safe – or empowered – as the most vulnerable among us’), which also aims to make the invisible (the silent pandemics, the power asymmetries, the inequities) visible. Billing emphasises the need to imagine alternative visions for our society, and to create cultures based upon mutual care. 

 

Many countries have already begun implementing feminist foreign and domestic policies – this is something that deserves renewed attention as we rebuild post-Covid-19. The National Women’s Council of Ireland, for instance, has just published a Feminist Future Programme For Government document, calling on the next government to significantly invest in public services (including comprehensive public childcare) and infrastructure – an effort which deserves our support. This is not to say that all existing ‘feminist’ policies are perfect – far from it (many display inconsistencies) – however, they are a crucial starting point in imagining a more inclusive future for all. 

 

The unique experience of women at this time can help to inform gender-proof Covid-19 solutions, and inspire a vision for a post-coronavirus society. It is essential that we celebrate the achievements of female leaders in their handling of this crisis, ensuring that care, compassion and creativity become the cornerstone of politics in the future. 

 

 

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

Why We Need Feminist Leadership in a Pandemic (And Beyond)

49.55% of the global population is female. Yet, fewer than 10% of countries are led by women. The good news? Many of these women leaders are fast becoming household names (for the right reasons) due to their calm and creative handling of politics, including during the coronavirus crisis.

The Danger of Quarantine: Women in Ireland Suffering From Domestic Violence

One of the side effects of the Covid-19 lockdown is the impact on victims of domestic violence. Both here in Ireland and abroad, spikes in domestic violence incidents have been reported. This article examines the situation in Ireland and forms part of a two-part series where we cover how this issue has presented itself around the globe, as well as at home.

The Danger of Quarantine: Women Around the World Suffering From Domestic Violence

In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, countries across the globe have tried to control the spread of the virus by enforcing measures to restrict people’s movements, commonly referred to as ‘lockdown’. Those who suffer doubly due to these restrictions include those who are not safe even in their own home.

Why Gender Equality Matters – Reflections on the Citizens’ Assembly

On February 15th and 16th, the Citizens Assembly on Gender Equality gathered for their first meeting. As the event is on a temporary pause due to the outbreak of Covid-19, we thought it would be the perfect time to recap on its work so far.

Let’s Talk About Coronavirus And Women

Like most things in life, coronavirus has a gendered impact. Previous experience with viruses like Ebola and Zika has shown how these crises tend to have particularly harmful effects on women and girls and reinforce gender inequality. Now we can see similar patterns emerging regarding the coronavirus – including within Ireland.

New Emojis to Highlight Diversity

Emojis play an important role in digital communication, allowing us to express our emotions and convey meaning through cute little symbols. However, our ability to communicate is limited by the pictures and symbols on offer, and so emojis can make a big difference!

Is Vladimir Putin Extending his Russian Authoritarian Regime?

Is Vladimir Putin Extending his Russian Authoritarian Regime?

Vladimir Putin’s term as president of Russia is due to end in 2024, marking 24 years in power. However, the prospects of Putin ending his rule as scheduled had always been considered low, and recent events have confirmed that he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

 

Putin first came into the public eye in Russia in 1999 when he was appointed as Prime Minister by President Boris Yeltsin, and on December 31st 1999 he became acting president when Yeltsin resigned. Putin then ran in the presidential elections in March 2000 and officially became the president of Russia. Unlike in Ireland, the president is the most powerful figure in Russian politics, in charge of directing domestic and foreign policy.

 

Putin served as president until 2008, after being reelected in 2004. In 2008 he could not run again as the Russian constitution prevents presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms. He therefore became prime minister under president Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian prime minister is appointed by the president to be the chair of the government, which is similar to the cabinet in Ireland, consisting of deputy prime ministers, and ministers of the government departments. While this typically means that the prime minister is subordinate to the president, Putin is considered to have remained in control of the country throughout the Medvedev presidency, and Medvedev proposed Putin to run for the presidency again in 2012. Medvedev also enacted changes to the constitution, extending the presidential term from four years to six. As a consequence, Putin ran for a six-year term in 2012 and has remained president since, recently reelected in 2018. However, he is barred from running  for a third consecutive term in 2024. This has led commentators to wonder whether he will appoint a successor or if he will remain in power himself, either by becoming prime minister again or by changing the constitution, for example by getting rid of the rule banning more than two consecutive terms. 

 

That question was answered in January, when Putin announced proposed changes to the constitution. These amendments change the role of the presidency, limiting future presidents to a maximum of two terms in office (as opposed to the current restriction of two consecutive terms), and giving the parliament more power in choosing the prime minister and government. They also give the president more power to dismiss judges, and the president will be able to ask the constitutional court to check the constitutionality of laws proposed by parliament.  Furthermore, they  change the status and role of the State Council, a body which advises the president, probably increasing its power. Other notable changes include a more nationalistic tone, making the constitution superior to international law, preventing anyone who has held foreign citizenship from running for president, and preventing anyone currently holding foreign citizenship from holding important roles such as minister or judge.

 

While the changes were being debated in parliament, the bill was amended to include a re-setting of Putin’s term count back to zero. The constitutional court of Russia approved this change as being legal, meaning Putin is free to run again for two more terms if the amendments are adopted.  He could therefore be president until 2036. The full list of constitutional changes was scheduled to be voted on in a referendum in April, but this has had to be postponed due to coronavirus. Reactions to the proposals have been mixed. No votes were cast against the amendments in the final confirmation in the lower chamber of parliament. However, opposition groups are against the changes, criticising them for opening the door to Putin’s continued power. The opposition have arranged protests against the constitutional amendments, but these have also had to be postponed or cancelled due to coronavirus. Petitions against the legal changes have also circulated.

 

Despite the opposition’s protests, Putin seems to be hoping that the referendum will pass due to his popularity among many Russians, and his inclusion of some socio-economic protections in the constitutional changes. These are that the minimum wage will be prevented from being lower than subsistence level, and that pensions will be indexed (essentially meaning that pension amounts will increase with inflation). However, these are apparently already guaranteed under Russian law, just not in the constitution, so it is not certain whether this will change much for Russians. It is also not clear cut how Russians will vote in the referendum, as Putin’s approval ratings remain high, but Russians seem to be split about 50/50 on whether they want him to stay in power past 2024. However, Putin did not need to put these changes to a referendum, and it is unlikely he would’ve done so if he thought it would fail. Nevertheless  it is possible that Putin’s handling of the coronavirus could affect his ratings and the postponed referendum in ways he may not have anticipated, but this remains to be seen. But with little independent media existing in Russia, the opposition to the constitutional changes is likely to be low.

 

It is not yet clear what Putin will do in 2024 if the constitution is changed, or if he has even decided yet. He could choose to remain on as president, or lead a more empowered State Council and control another president (like he did as prime minister to Medvedev), or something else entirely. It is likely that he won’t reveal his plans until much closer to the end of his current term, and his ultimate decision is likely to be whatever he thinks will be the least risk to himself. Stepping down can be a dangerous move for autocrats who have made enemies during their time in power, and it is unlikely that Putin will expose himself to that risk unless he is convinced he can protect himself.

 

 

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Closer Look at Tourism: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

Five Stages to Freedom and the New Zealand Confusion

On Friday May 1st Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five stage plan for reopening Ireland after the coronavirus lockdown. This plan will go into effect on May 18th and will continuingly unlock restrictions at three week intervals if Covid-19 numbers continue to be stagnant or lessen. If Covid-19 numbers increase then Ireland may go back into lockdown as a result. The biggest take away from this is that most people are not going to have a bit of craic until stage 4 or 5.

Corporations, Human Rights and Accountability

In March of 2019, Trócaire launched their campaign for a binding treaty that aims to hold corporations accountable for breaches of human rights. I spoke with Siobhan Curran, Trócaire’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor – Human Rights and Democratic Space to find out what it’s all about and why it’s important.

‘I Want My Life Back’ – The Growing Anti-Lockdown Movements

At the beginning of April, German lawyer Beate Bahner was apprehended in her home in Heidelberg by police and brought directly to the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic. A strange story, perhaps made stranger (and indeed fodder for conspiratorial types) given her recent opposition to the stringent lockdown measures introduced by the German federal government. Is this a tale of political silencing? And why is there a growing movement to end lockdown restrictions?

What Does Bernie Sander’s Exit Mean For An Imperative Green New Deal?

What Does Bernie Sander’s Exit Mean For An Imperative Green New Deal?

“Let us go forward together. The struggle continues.” This memorable tweet has since garnered close to one million likes and 122,000 retweets since Bernie Sanders typed the words on April 8, 2020; ending his campaign but not the movement. 

 

The disappointment felt around the world at the news of the Vermont Senator’s exit from the US Presidential race was bigger than him. It was even bigger than the movement which had overcome barrier after barrier, just to fall at the unfair final hurdle. It was grief for the planet and those in the Global South who will suffer from the repercussions of the second term of Trump, and arguably the first term of Biden. 

 

With the coronavirus pandemic shaking the world, we cannot go back to normal, and Bernie’s push for universal basic income and healthcare for all is now more than ever far from “radical”. The threat that countries are using the pandemic to roll back environmental protections is also causing unease. For example, Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia recently banned anti-fossil fuel protests, which was barely noticed in the US media as a result of Trump’s gross mishandling of the virus response – which is still leading to mass death. We are heading towards the worst recession since the Great Depression, but recovery programmes cannot return to high emissions.

 

One of the reasons why Sanders and his message resonated with young people was his climate policies – not just empty lip service like that of Biden, who has been close to fossil fuel lobby groups and major corporate interests for his entire career. The candidate, who is set to go head-to-head with the current President, once told the Sunrise Movement to “vote for someone else” after they asked him to ban fracking. 

 

Sanders has been a leader of climate policy, unveiling a Green New Deal plan in August of 2019 that supporters referred to as a “game-changer.” Co-sponsored by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who has been supporting Sanders since his heart attack last year – the bill was ground-breaking in its promise of millions of green jobs, justice for those who have been exploited and clean energy, paid for by the culprits of the earth’s deplorable carbon emissions. 

 

The democratic socialist earned the endorsement of major climate justice groups, including Greenpeace and the Sunrise Movement, which expressed its heartbreak at Sanders’ loss: “We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Our hearts are heavy,” Aracely Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said in a statement

 

“The ball’s now in Joe Biden’s court. To avoid a repeat of 2016, he needs to show young people that he’s going to stand up for them by embracing policies like an ambitious Green New Deal that led young voters to Bernie.” Jimenez added that gathering the young generation to defeat Trump would be significantly harder unless Biden takes on progressive policies. Obama’s own Biden endorsement video encouraged a pivot leftwards, with the former President even stating that he would run on a more progressive platform if he were seeking the nomination in 2020.

 

Biden has called the Green New Deal “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face,” yet, there is an undeniable air of mistrust surrounding him, especially with those under 35. While socialist policies are now in the public conversation since Covid-19 hit, Biden remains sceptical of adding a national Medicare-for-all system into the climate package. Sanders was the hero of “healthcare is a human right”. What is Biden a hero of? He has yet to make a convincing case that he genuinely believes in any significant policy at all.

 

“Sanders was certainly more ambitious in many of his public discussions on climate policy than Biden I would say. But, perhaps only marginally so,” said Dr Constantine Boussalis, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin.

 

Biden is certainly promising to bring the US back to, and actually beyond, the Obama-era policy positions. He has set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, which is consistent with emission pathways that limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5C above the pre-industrial era.  

 

“He has promised to push for a large investment in clean energy and has said that the US will rejoin the Paris Agreement in force,” Dr Boussalis added. “For sure, there is room for improvement with his climate plan, but in the context of the election, the main point is that Biden is miles beyond Trump on environmental policy.”

 

Is the fact that Biden is “beyond Trump” good enough for the planet’s survival? The Sunrise Movement, 350.org and Greenpeace all gave mediocre grades to Biden’s climate plan, which foresees a slower transition from fossil fuels. Biden has said he would approve no new fracking permits on federal land or waters, but existing permits should be evaluated on a case by case basis. This directly contrasts with Sanders’ pledge to “keep fossil fuels in the ground”. 

 

Following coronavirus, the Cop26 talks on climate will be a chance to completely transform the global economy into a sustainable one. Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris accord takes legal effect on November 4, but if a Democrat wins the Presidential election, it could change the course of the world’s most powerful economy and second biggest emitter. The US could establish vital climate leadership if the political will is there – which it currently isn’t. Moderate politicians like Biden often enact moderate results, but Sanders and the progressive movement may shift Biden’s agenda leftwards enough for the climate to have a glimpse at hope.

 

 

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

Why the UK’s Contact-Tracing App is not the Solution

Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

A Closer Look at Tourism: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

Five Stages to Freedom and the New Zealand Confusion

On Friday May 1st Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five stage plan for reopening Ireland after the coronavirus lockdown. This plan will go into effect on May 18th and will continuingly unlock restrictions at three week intervals if Covid-19 numbers continue to be stagnant or lessen. If Covid-19 numbers increase then Ireland may go back into lockdown as a result. The biggest take away from this is that most people are not going to have a bit of craic until stage 4 or 5.

Corporations, Human Rights and Accountability

In March of 2019, Trócaire launched their campaign for a binding treaty that aims to hold corporations accountable for breaches of human rights. I spoke with Siobhan Curran, Trócaire’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor – Human Rights and Democratic Space to find out what it’s all about and why it’s important.

‘I Want My Life Back’ – The Growing Anti-Lockdown Movements

At the beginning of April, German lawyer Beate Bahner was apprehended in her home in Heidelberg by police and brought directly to the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic. A strange story, perhaps made stranger (and indeed fodder for conspiratorial types) given her recent opposition to the stringent lockdown measures introduced by the German federal government. Is this a tale of political silencing? And why is there a growing movement to end lockdown restrictions?

What Does “Cruelty-free” Mean?

What Does “Cruelty-free” Mean?

“Cruelty-free” is a label given to products or activities that do not harm or kill animals and it’s an essential part of the animal rights movement. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free since the tests are often painful or harmful to the animals and cause suffering and death to thousands of them each year. Lady Dowding was one of the first people to use the term cruelty-free to persuade manufacturers who produce fake furs to use the label “Beauty Without Cruelty” which later became a charity in 1959. Marcia Pearson, who founded a group called “Fashion with Compassion” popularized the term cruelty-free in the US during the 1970s.

 

In 1957, the concept of the three R’s was published in the book, “The Principle of Humane Experimental Technique” which was written by Charles Hume and W.M.S. Russell. These concepts were: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement, all hoping to reduce the number of animals used for testing and making those tests less painful. In 1991, the European Center for Validation of Alternative Methods was established to reduce, refine or replace the use of testing animals. If it so happens that testing is unavoidable, the committee of ECVAM must approve the test and place the testing under the animal protection act which does not approve of animal testing if alternatives exist. The European Union has made it illegal to test on animals in most European countries, however, some countries like China still continue to test their products on animals by law which means that most cosmetics that are made in China are not cruelty-free. The label which represents cruelty-free products is the Leaping Bunny which applies only to products which do not use animal testing anywhere in the world and do not test on animals anywhere in the production stages.

 

 

Animal testing is currently being replaced with quicker, cheaper and more accurate methods of testing. Most labs now use humane alternatives, like a  reconstructed human epidermis which involves the use of human skin donated by cosmetic surgeons to replace the rabbit Draize skin test. The test involved applying 0.5g of the test substance on a restricted animal’s eyes or skin. The Draize skin test was one most relevant to human reactions but other methods replacing the Draize eye test is by using Vitro human tissue. These tests are more accurate in protecting people from toxic substances as well as eliminating or reducing animal testing.

 

There are thousands of companies worldwide which now offer cruelty-free products like cosmetics, personal-care products, clothing, candles, and cleaning products. The leaping bunny has been the only international third-party cruelty-free certification program since the 1990s.

 

There are many ways to research cruelty-free activist groups, one of them being Cruelty-Free International which is a website that helps you find cruelty-free brands and products as well as giving you a chance to donate towards stopping animal testing worldwide! On their website you will find a list of celebrities which support the cruelty-free movement, some of those celebrities are: 

 

 

“I am supporting cruelty-free international with its campaign to seek global ban to ensure that animals do not suffer for the sake of beauty anywhere in the world.” Paul McCartney 

 

“I am so pleased to support cruelty-free international and be a part of the global campaign to end cosmetics tests on animals.” Peter Dinklage

 

“join me in supporting cruelty-free international call to congress to bring an end to animal testing for cosmetics in the U.S.” Norman Reedus

 

“It doesn’t take a genius to know that using animals for cruel and unnecessary cosmetics tests is unjustifiable.” Mayim Bialik 

You can also find articles and studies based on animal cruelty with real statistics and real facts on their website. Cruelty-Free International states that “We believe there is no rational moral justification for using animals in experiments”, and according to their statistics, at least 115 million animals are used as test subjects each year! Another interesting fact is that the US, Japan, China, Australia, France, Canada, the UK, Germany and Brazil are the top 9 animal testing countries in the world. Unfortunately, there has not been a huge decline in animal testing since the 1990s and some countries continue to test on animals with record figures.

 

If we wish to make a difference and stop animal cruelty, we must stop buying products that are not labelled with the leaping bunny. To help you with that we have found numerous companies which are certified as cruelty-free as of 2020, and have not tested on animals during any stage of production: Elf, NYX, LUSH, TheBalm, Tarte, WetnWild, Anastasia Beverly Hills and TooFaced.

 

Brands that are not cruelty-free include Nars, Mac, Benefit, Dior, Covergirl, Max Factor, L’oreal, Bourjois, Chanel, Armani and Maybelline.

 

If you want to look into more brands that are cruelty-free you can visit: https://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/list-of-cruelty-free-brands/
And If you want more information on Animal testing and wish to donate towards the cause, visit: https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/what-we-do

 

 

 

Photo from freepik

 

 

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Will the Postponement of the Tokyo Olympics Plunge Japan Into Severe Recession?

Will the Postponement of the Tokyo Olympics Plunge Japan Into Severe Recession?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) took the unprecedented decision of postponing the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games due to the outbreak of coronavirus and in the face of ever-growing pressure from athletes and national Olympic committees. Athletes and fans are disappointed but this was a necessary step to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease. With the exception of the two world wars, the Olympic games had never been cancelled or postponed since they began in their modern guise in 1896.

 

It was expected that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games would have a positive economic impact on Japan. The revenue would have been approximately 20 trillion Japanese yen in the Tokyo Prefecture alone and about 32 trillion yen nationwide. These unforeseen circumstances due to the crisis following the world-engulfing COVID-19 pandemic came as a nasty blow to Japan. The Japanese government had expected everlasting social, economic and cultural benefits from measures taken towards the success of the Tokyo 2020 games.

 

Fitch Solutions said in a report that the postponement or cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics Games could deal “a huge blow to Japan’s economy and prestige. Although the Japanese government would not necessarily be viewed negatively for postponing or cancelling the games, it would rob Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of a potential major national celebration in 2020 as he prepares to step down in September 2021,” the analysts said in a note dated March 17th, 2020. Conversely, if the Olympic games had not been postponed, it could have upset a significant part of the population who feared a second wave of infection, as Japan would have had to welcome athletes, staff and tourists from all around the world.

 

The government also projected about a 12 trillion yen long-term demand through projects which would be carried out before and after the opening of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These include the use of permanent facilities and the Olympic village, urban development of the city, expansion of the sports and culture industry, as well as the stimulation of the tourism industry. The direct increase in demand was estimated at around two trillion yen, generated by investment and expenditure directly connected to the Olympic and Paralympic games. This investment included constructing permanent venues, developing energy infrastructure, establishing security precautions and managing public relations. Furthermore, an increase in new employment of about 1.94 million people in the country was also anticipated. According to the Financial Times, the economic growth in developed countries that have hosted the Olympics since 1992 show the strongest growth in the years ahead of the Games as money is spent on infrastructure and investment. The actual year of the Games by itself delivers only a limited boost mostly due to the influx of tourists from around the world.

 

Therefore, postponement of the games is unlikely to cause serious economic harm. However, the economic recovery for the rest of the year definitely depends on the course of the coronavirus containment measures. It is predicted that Japan would expect a  5% dip in GDP if Tokyo moves to a full lockdown as claimed by Waqas Adenwala, Asia analyst at EIU. Japanese authorities, like their global counterparts, have introduced measures to soften the economic hit from the outbreak. These measures will be welcomed during a time of great uncertainty that the nation is facing.

 

 

 

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

 

From post-apocalyptic scenery to post-Covid era: How will we travel tomorrow?

In this last contribution of the series “A closer look at tourism”, we’ll observe the world as we pressed pause during the lockdown, and will try to offer alternatives for a better future of tourism.

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Many are concerned that, upon emerging from the current crisis, a tool will have been created that enables widespread data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of the population, for surveillance. Concerns are further fed by security threats recently discovered with the UK’s beta app.

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Welcome to STAND’s new series: “A closer look at tourism”! We answer frequently asked questions related to unethical tourism and how the this can be dealt with.

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On Friday May 1st Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a five stage plan for reopening Ireland after the coronavirus lockdown. This plan will go into effect on May 18th and will continuingly unlock restrictions at three week intervals if Covid-19 numbers continue to be stagnant or lessen. If Covid-19 numbers increase then Ireland may go back into lockdown as a result. The biggest take away from this is that most people are not going to have a bit of craic until stage 4 or 5.

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In March of 2019, Trócaire launched their campaign for a binding treaty that aims to hold corporations accountable for breaches of human rights. I spoke with Siobhan Curran, Trócaire’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor – Human Rights and Democratic Space to find out what it’s all about and why it’s important.

‘I Want My Life Back’ – The Growing Anti-Lockdown Movements

At the beginning of April, German lawyer Beate Bahner was apprehended in her home in Heidelberg by police and brought directly to the Heidelberg psychiatric clinic. A strange story, perhaps made stranger (and indeed fodder for conspiratorial types) given her recent opposition to the stringent lockdown measures introduced by the German federal government. Is this a tale of political silencing? And why is there a growing movement to end lockdown restrictions?