A partnership to help protect our oceans

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Checking in after one year of the five-year partnership between Royal Caribbean and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there’s much to report on the ambitious and measurable goals set to reduce RCL’s impact on the seas it sails; support WWF’s oceans conservation work; and raise awareness among Royal Caribbean’s more than 5 million passengers worldwide about the importance of ocean conservation.

An “annual report” compiled to measure the progress of the pact notes that the “long-term health of our oceans won’t be secured overnight, so timelines and milestones matter. Some challenges can be met with quick, simple solutions; others require efforts that take time to yield results.”

Of the former, RCL is engaged in educational efforts aimed at its more than 5 million passengers globally, and the 64,000 crew members on its ships. Among them:

  • WWF conservation-themed content that plays on TVs in guest staterooms.
  • Distributing an onboard special edition of the WWF magazine.
  • Ocean-conservation themed children’s programming.
  • Ocean-themed activities such as walks to raise awareness and funds conservation.

In addition, following up on President Obama’s first-ever executive order to combat wildlife trafficking in 2013, RCL joined other major U.S. companies in April 2016 to discuss more than a dozen corporate commitments toward that end.

“WWF and Royal Caribbean understand that travelers purchase and bring home souvenirs while visiting distant ports,” the annual report says. “Inadvertently, these travelers may purchase trinkets made of ivory or turtle shell, purses made of pangolin or caiman leather, or other souvenirs that fuel this deadly and illegal trade.

“One of the most powerful tools for addressing illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade is persuading consumers to make informed choices. Royal Caribbean is leading the travel and tourism industry with this commitment.”

The partnership has also focused on the Coral Triangle, home to more than three-fourths of the world’s coral species. It includes Donsol in the Philippines, an increasingly popular tourist destination for watching whale sharks, the world’s largest fish. RCL investments in the region are helping “empower local communities like Donsol to engage in more sustainable tourism through protection of natural assets – an investment that is making a difference in the long-term health of our oceans and the people and wildlife who rely on them.”

Sustainable tourism is one of the areas of focus for the partnership, and RCL is making progress toward its goal for 2018 when it will begin preferential purchasing of tours – where all else is equal – from operators either certified to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard or progressing towards certification.

The other goals:

  • Reducing the intensity of RCL’s greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent from its 2005 baseline.
  • Developing strategies by 2020 to improve sustainable sourcing for key food commodity categories with the highest environmental impact.
  • In a cruise industry first, RCL announced its commitment to significantly increase sourcing of sustainable seafood from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), and earn MSC and ASC chain-of-custody certification.

“As we embark on another year of collaboration,” the report says, “WWF and Royal Caribbean remain committed to producing meaningful change and modeling leadership and action for others in the travel and hospitality industry.”