These are just a few of the winners of Travel + Leisure’s third annual Global Vision Awards, representing the vanguard of people and organizations working to maintain the world’s vibrancy and variety. T+L editors and writers scoured the globe for projects that are transforming the way we approach culture, community, and the natural world. We assembled the nominations, and our accomplished judges weighed in. Read on for this year’s visionaries—and why they caught our attention.
President of the World Monuments Fund, devoted to the preservation of architectural and cultural sites around the world.
Founder of Lisa Lindblad Travel Design, a custom travel planner; former board member of Aid to Artisans, the nonprofit organization that won T+L's 2006 Global Vision Award for economic development.
Environmental author and activist, whose book, The End of Nature, helped jump-start public discourse on the greenhouse effect in 1987; The Bill McKibben Reader, a collection of essays, will be published in the spring.
Spanish historian, archaeologist, and general manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, where he helps to implement cultural programs in Muslim communities as catalysts for socioeconomic change.
Founder of the investment committee Environmental Quality International; his Adrère Amellal Oasis, a lodge in Siwa, Egypt, won a Global Vision Award in 2006.
Founder of the Slow Food movement, with 80,000 members in over 100 countries working to promote gastronomy’s connection to natural resources and cultural heritage; his latest book, Slow Food Nation, was published in May 2007.
M. A. Sanjayan
Lead scientist with the Nature Conservancy, which promotes sustainability through natural-resource management; he is also a faculty appointee at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Executive director of community and environmental responsibility at Aspen Skiing Company, a business whose green policies and sustainable practices are leading the travel industry.
Dr. Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel Prize–winning economist, former adviser to the Clinton Administration, and former chief economist of the World Bank; now a professor at Columbia University, where he chairs the Committee for Global Thought.
Plus: Honorable Mentions
Plus: Global Vision Awards 2006
Conservation Corporation (CC) Africa, South Africa ccafrica.com —Although wildlife conservation has been fundamental to CC Africa’s mission since it began creating a portfolio of luxury camps and lodges more than 35 years ago, the company is deeply committed to strengthening the local communities that surround its properties. The company’s nonprofit arm, the Africa Foundation, operates in 30 communities in six countries, helping in education, health care, and business development with the understanding that supporting people is as essential as supporting biodiversity.
Room to Read, San Francisco roomtoread.org—Dedicated to creating libraries in developing world communities that are simply too poor to be able to buy books, San Francisco-based Room to Read has built more than 3,600 libraries (stocked with more than 2 million books) in Asia. It brought its program to Africa and will soon begin constructing libraries in Latin America. But libraries are only part of what the organization does to foster literacy and education. It also funds scholarships, builds schools, builds computer and language centers, and publishes books in a pioneering native-language program.
ACCOR, France accor.com—Since 1994, Accor, a global lodging company based in France with almost 3,800 hotels in 90 countries, has been an industry trailblazer in its focus on environmental issues. The group was among the first to take action on the environment, and remains one of the most globally influential, thanks to the size and scope of its worldwide operations.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Greenwood Village Colorado xanterra.com—A hospitality company founded in the 19th century in the American West, Xanterra Parks & Resorts manages hotels and lodges, as well as national and state park campsites. Because of its close relationship with U.S. parks, Xanterra has long been a champion of sustainable tourism and environmentally-conscious business development, from its hotels to its retail shops and transportation systems. The company’s most recent objective: a 10-year program, which began in 2004, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent and waste by 50 percent. Xanterra is already well on its way to meeting those goals.
Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Central Asia akdn.org—Recognizing the vital role music has played in the cultures of Central Eurasia and the Middle East, and fearing its increasing fragility in the face of rapid modernization throughout the region, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture established the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia in 2000. By setting up music schools throughout the region and supporting a worldwide touring program, the trust aims to preserve Central Asia’s musical heritage by ensuring its transmission to a new generation of artists and audiences—both inside the region and beyond its borders.
Jaipur Virasat Foundation, India jaipurfestival.org —Alarmed by India’s breakneck economic development, this foundation strives to connect the country’s traditions with its fast-emerging modern culture by promoting Jaipur as a center for arts, crafts, and folk music. Central to the organization’s efforts is its 10-day Jaipur Heritage International Festival (held annually in January), now in its fifth year and bigger and more respected than ever.
Ecotrust, Oregon ecotrust.org/foodfarms/ —The local food movement has found some powerful advocates in recent years. One of the most interesting of them is this Portland-based conservation organization, which has become a champion of local farms and food producers, and of children in need of a healthy diet by lobbying for a comprehensive farm-to-schools lunch program for the state’s nearly 600,000 public school students.
Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada raincoast.org—
Hugging 250 miles of Canada’s coastline, from north of Vancouver Island to Alaska, Great Bear Rainforest is the largest remaining tract of coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Yet until a broad and farsighted accord was reached last year between environmentalists, the government, industry, and the First Nation tribes, all of the forest valleys were open to being clear-cut—a particularly devastating form of logging. The formation of Great Bear Rainforest is proof that diverse groups can work together to save natural areas, finding ways to balance commercial activities with a commitment to preservation.
Ten Thousand Villages, Akron, Pennsylvania tenthousandvillages.com —One of the world’s oldest and largest fair-trade nonprofits, Ten Thousand Villages offers training and assistance to more than 50,000 artisans from 32 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The organization, which sells these artisans’ work in 180 outlet stores and online is more than just a nonexploitive middleman between craftsmen in developing countries and consumer markets in the West. In addition to using market principles to lessen poverty, it helps communities reinvest their earnings in human capital, including education and health care.
The Emancipation Network, East Sandwich, Massachusetts madebysurvivors.com —There are more slaves in the world today than ever before—as many as 27 million people are currently in bondage, according to credible estimates. Despite more than 300 conventions and international treaties banning slavery and the slave trade, human bondage persists on every continent, in every country in the world. The Emancipation Network, a "for benefit" start-up, contains both a business that sells products made by slavery survivors, and a charitable arm. The latter takes the profits from the sales of the products and reinvests them in groups that keep the survivors free and prevent others from becoming slaves.
Green Hotel Initiative
Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Southwest Dominica junglebaydominica.com —Long dependent on the banana trade, which suffered terribly in the 1990s, the Caribbean island of Dominica has seen its level of poverty approach 40 percent in recent years and unemployment hover above 20 percent. The pioneering Jungle Bay—a collection of sustainably-built cottages set on lushly forested land—has been at the forefront in exploring new opportunities in tourism for the island’s residents, and in fostering a brand of tourism in Dominica that exploits neither natural surroundings nor local communities.
Terra Resort Group, Jackson Hole, Wyoming hotelterrajacksonhole.com—The Terra Resort Group, a new hotel company with its first property opening soon , has a vision: to make sustainability invisible. The six-story Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole aims to achieve the highest levels of design and service established by its boutique-hotel competitors, but to do so while adopting sustainable practices. This will be a mainstream "green" hotel, one of very few in the country to achieve the coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and certainly the most luxurious hotel to meet these green-building benchmarks. Most ambitiously, Hotel Terra is planned as the flagship of the 12 to 15 sustainable luxury hotels the Terra Resort Group hopes to open by 2015.
Turquoise Mountain Foundation, Murad Khane, Kabul, Afganistan turquoisemountain.org—Murad Khane, once a vibrant commercial and trading center in the heart of Kabul, has suffered deeply over the last century. Its mud-and- timber buildings are some of the finest remaining examples of Afghan vernacular architecture, but many are on the verge of collapse, and the community lacks the resources and services to preserve and regenerate the area. Last year, Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai, and Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, launched a multimillion-dollar project, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, to restore the ancient neighborhood from the most recent round of warfare. The organization’s mission: to provide basic services, improve infrastructure, save historic buildings, and construct a new bazaar and galleries for traditional craft businesses.
World Monuments Fund wmf.org—Almost two years after Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf Coast, New Orleans residents are still struggling to rebuild homes and neighborhoods and to restore a semblance of their previous lives. In January 2006, the World Monuments Fund-in partnership with the Preservation Trades Network (a nonprofit organization that works on projects related to traditional trades) and the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning-launched a program to help resurrect historic districts torn apart by the storm and flooding. By restoring the region’s historic architecture, they aim to reconnect and empower residents and re-establish a sense of identity and community.
Natural Capital Project, California, Hawaii, Tanzania, and Upper Yangtze, China naturalcapitalproject.org—A joint project of Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund, this group of scientists and ecologists has developed a powerful computer application and modeling system that evaluates the economic benefits of different land-use scenarios. In other words, they’ve got the tools to prove that natural sites, if left alone, may be more valuable than if developed—and it gives them a persuasive way to argue to government and private industry that a healthy ecosystem is a good investment.
One Laptop per Child, Boston, Massachusetts laptop.org —Nicholas Negroponte’s mission is as audacious as it is appealing: the former MIT professor wants to put a durable, energy-efficient laptop in the hands of every child. To that end, the nonprofit Negroponte founded two years ago, One Laptop Per Child, is putting the finishing touches on a cutting-edge yet child-friendly machine, the lunchbox-size XO, which costs a mere $175 to produce and is being offered to ministries of education throughout the developing world.