Ethical Traveler Announces Top 10 Ethical Destinations for 2014

Looking to make tracks in a new land in the most responsible way possible? It all starts with choosing the right place to visit. Ethical Traveler, a nonprofit project of the Earth Island Institute, has announced the 10 most ethical destinations in the developing world for 2014, based on their contribution to human rights, environmental preservation and social welfare. The goal is to incentivize ethical practices abroad by rewarding those destinations with increased tourism dollars.

What makes each location deserving and desirable? Read on:

Swimming pigs in the Bahamas. Photo: Flickr/cdorobek

Swimming pigs in the Bahamas. Photo: Flickr/cdorobek

The Bahamas
A paragon of the sandy beach getaway, The Bahamas is back on the list after previously missing the cut. An increased focus on the development of protected areas in Andros West Side National Park and a notable administrative effort to reduce human trafficking has won the attention of Ethical Traveler (although the group is concerned about unethical wildlife destinations such as the pending dolphin park at Blackbeard’s Cay). The Bahamas received a perfect score from Freedom House in both political rights and civil liberties categories.

Barbados
If you’ve got an itch for a cool rum cocktail and a tropical island sunset, Barbados is a breathtaking and ethically informed option. The Caribbean country was commended for its environmentally conscious development agenda, which has protected the coastline while still promoting tourism. Ranking especially high in social welfare and human rights, Barbados leads by example in nearly every category explored by Ethical Traveler.

Cape Verde
Charles Darwin must have forgotten his wetsuit back in 1832 when he referred to the island of Cape Verde as “dull” and “uninteresting.” Water sports enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to get their feet wet at this famous windsurfing and kiteboarding destination. Cape Verde is the No. 1 ranked African country on Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2013 survey and has declared an ambitious plan to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Chile
Home to the astounding Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, which won a World Responsible Tourism Award in November 2013 for its contribution to sustainable environment and species programs, Chile has also made strides in the realm of social welfare. With the highest Gini index equality ranking of this year’s ethical destinations and the highest possible score in political rights and civil liberties as determined by Freedom House, this South American nation is proving its devotion to the protection of its people and the preservation of its wonderful natural landmarks.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica. Photo: Flickr/luna76

Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica. Photo: Flickr/luna76

Dominica
“Isle of beauty, isle of splendor,” boasts the Dominican national anthem. The “Nature Island” has set a goal to become energy independent and carbon negative by 2020, and has expanded solar power around the island. The Caribbean country is also working to preserve rare species of mountain chickens, frogs and iguanas. Phenomenal scenic hikes and mountain bike routes show off the idyllic natural landscape, while Champagne Reef’s uniquely warm waters are home to some of the world’s premier diving and snorkeling.

Latvia
There’s lots to love in Latvia, which was recognized as one of 10 countries in the world ranking at the top of 10 policy categories in both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. The Daugava River splits the beautiful capital city of Riga, which has shed its postwar bleakness in favor of a bustling market atmosphere with a vibrant nightlife scene. Latvia received the highest ranking of this year’s countries in gender equality.

Lithuania
Raw, unmanicured wilderness is preserved by a Lithuanian devotion to protecting the natural environment. Visitors can explore any of the five national and 30 regional parks free of charge. The Northern European nation has made major strides in social welfare, having dropped its under-5 mortality rate by 52 percent since 2000. Lithuania was also recognized with a high score in human rights and the newly added animal welfare category.

Mauritius
It’s no surprise the now-extinct Dodo bird never chose to leave the island of Mauritius. The city of Grand Bay is a true paradise, now catering to tourists in search of white-sand beaches, great food and glass-bottom boat tours. Safari Jeep tours will take explorers through Yemen natural reserve park in search of zebras, ostriches, monkeys, and antelope. Mauritius was commended for its devotion to expanding tourism while protecting the environment. Additionally, the Indian Ocean island nation made great improvements in both social welfare and human rights categories, demonstrating a notable commitment to long-term development.

Kayaking in Palau. Photo: Flickr/LuxTonnerre

Kayaking in Palau. Photo: Flickr/LuxTonnerre

Palau
World-class scuba diving and snorkeling highlight the islands of Palau, where tourists may encounter hidden caves, wartime wreckage, and massive drop-offs during the many guided tours offered. More than 28 percent of Palau’s marine and terrestrial area is protected, the highest percentage of any destination on this year’s list. Palau also received the highest possible rating in political rights and civil liberties.

Uruguay
Uruguay’s ambitious move toward sustainable energy has impressed Ethical Traveler, which lauded the South American country’s goal of 90 percent renewable energy by 2015. Uruguay has established itself as the model for socially progressive government, legalizing marriage equality, marijuana, and first-trimester abortion this year. Youth hostels provide an affordable option for peso-pinchers looking to cavort about the famous sand dunes and discotheques of Punta del Este.

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Heroes of Sustainability: Howard Zinn

ImageLike many people who’ve served in the military during wartime, historian, playwright, and activist Howard Zinn was irrevocably changed by his experiences in the armed forces.

The Brooklyn native flew bomber missions during World War II, during which he bombed targets in Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, and Hungary. Partly because of his experiences, he became vehemently anti-war and passionately interested in history. He later attended New York University courtesy of the GI Bill, and then went on to get a master’s and a PhD in history from Columbia University.

Civilly Disobedient
Upon graduating, he began teaching at Spelman College, a historically black college for women in Atlanta. There — where he said he learned more from his students than they from him — he became active in the civil rights movement. When he supported student protesters (like Alice Walker, who went on to write The Color Purple, and Marian Wright Edelman, who would later found the Children’s Defense Fund), he was fired and moved on to Boston University, where he taught political science until he retired in 1988.

In his book Failure to Quit, Zinn wrote: “Civil disobedience … is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

Taking a Different Perspective
While Zinn — who died in 2010 at the age of 87 — wrote more than 20 books, lectured at countless universities, and was influential in the civil rights movement and anti-war efforts, he is perhaps best known for his textbook A People’s History of the United States. Instead of espousing the traditional view from the people in power throughout history, this book tackles a range of perspectives, from the Native Americans who struggled as men from other continents came and took over their land to unionists standing up against their employers to women and African-Americans fighting for equal rights. The textbook was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1981 and is still widely used in high schools and colleges to provide an alternative point of view compared with so many other history textbooks.

Novelist Howard Fast called A People’s History of the United States “one of the most important books I have ever read in a long life of reading. … It’s a wonderful, splendid book — a book that should be read by every American, student or otherwise, who wants to understand his country, its true history, and its hope for the future.”

For more on Zinn, visit www.howardzinn.org.

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Heroes of Sustainability: Amy Goodman

While the United States typically prides itself on being a country where free speech reigns and journalists are able to chase down stories without government interference, Amy Goodman doesn’t see it that way.

“In the old Soviet Union, people knew that they had to read between the lines of state-sponsored news to get to the truth,” Goodman said at an event in Philadelphia. “But in this country there is the illusion that…”

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Amy-Goodman.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Occupy Wall Street Protesters


Occupy Wall Street burst on the scene in mid-September, making front-page news and becoming common water-cooler conversation across the country. The movement set up shop in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, in the heart of the Wall Street financial district, with the goal of making it known that issues like high unemployment, inequality, greed…

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-OWS-Protesters.html

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Straight Talk with Tom

Is the US Chamber serious? Or, is this just their attempt at wanting to be perceived as being green?  

As I read ”3 Takeaways from the US Chamber’s Sustainability Conference“ published by GreenBiz, it made me feel like the US Chamber, an organization that is continually trying to appease its biggest polluting members, speaking out and lobbying against any attempts to regulate environmental degradation of Planet Earth, is now trying to gain goodwill and positive PR by appearing to align with the vast community of sustainability proponents, who DO believe we humans, our processes and consumption, ARE having dramatically-negative effects on our planet’s climate and its sustainability. Kinda looks to me like the US Chamber and its corporate citizenship affiliate the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) are speaking two distinctly different conversations! So, which is the truth here?


To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Straight-Talk-with-Tom-Is-the-US-Chamber-serious.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Denis Hayes


Now the world’s most widely observed secular holiday, Earth Day started back in 1970 as the brainchild of then-Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who was moved to action by a huge oil spill in California in 1969. Hoping to model the environmental movement after the student anti-war movement, Nelson chose the young Denis Hayes, in his mid-20s at the time, to spearhead the Earth Day campaign.

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Denis-Hayes.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: James Balog

James Balog

With adventure comes danger, and James Balog been exposed to plenty of that over the years. He knows that one accidental dip in iceberg-filled water, one slip of the hand on a mountain, one mechanical malfunction of a helicopter high above the land would end the exploration. And yet, he presses on.

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-James-Balog.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Wangari Maathai

If anyone knows the challenges that come with being a trailblazer, it’s Wangari Maathai. Her continual struggles for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation haven’t always been met with support on her native continent of Africa, where she’s faced…

 

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Wangari-Maathai.html

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Tim DeChristopher Convicted on Two Felony Charges for Protecting Our Planet

As an environmental activist, I was shocked to learn about the prison sentence facing Tim DeChristopher, a university student who falsely outbid energy producers to block their access to precious Utah Canyonlands. As the President and CEO of Dolphin Blue, a company that strives to preserve our planets most precious resources, I cannot help but ask myself the following question: Should DeChristopher serve prison time for protecting our planet against the hopeless polluters who have little or no regard for it?

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Tim-DeChristopher-Sentenced-to-Prison-for-Protecting-Our-Planet.html

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Leaked Emails Suggest Firmer Oversight Needed by Board of US Chamber of Commerce

There is growing evidence that many American businesses are attempting to become more environmentally responsible. Some of those businesses are represented on the board of directors of the US Chamber of Commerce. This suggests that the Chamber should eventually move toward supporting…

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