Voyageurs du Monde Group is the first tour-operator worldwide to have become carbon neutral, since January 1st 2018. The Group, a specialist in tailor-made and adventure travels, includes brands like Terres d’Aventures, Comptoir des voyages, Allibert Trelling and Nomade Aventure. It employs 1,220 staff and is developing its presence abroad with branches in England, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. As of now, Voyageurs du Monde offsets all of its customers’ and employees’ CO2 emissions. Lionel Habasque, Chairman and CEO of Terres d’Aventure, CEO of Voyageurs du Monde and President of the corporate foundation ‘Insolite Bâtisseur Philippe Romero’ explains why.
Voyageurs du Monde Group in a nutshell:
- 40 years of experience in travel
- 1,220 employees
- Leading French tour-operator in tailor-made and adventure travels
- 100% carbon neutral trips for customers and staff since January 2018
Livelihoods Venture: What is the path that led voyageurs du monde Group towards carbon neutrality?
Lionel Habasque: The Kyoto protocol provided that airlines would offset 10% of their carbon emissions. But this matter was set aside by lack of an agreement worldwide. Despite that and though this obligation was not foreseen to apply to tour-operators, we decided in 2010 to offset between 15 and 20% of our customers’ emissions.
This commitment arose from a merely philosophical choice made by the Group’s partners: each at our own level, we have to contribute to the preservation of our natural resources, so that our customers can keep on traveling. By stating this ambition, we also wanted to open the path for our peers.
Today, with the climate emergency, our travels’ carbon neutrality does no longer call for any doubt and that is the reason why renewed our investment in the Livelihoods Carbon Fund #2. All the brands of our Group share this commitment.
L.V: Intrisincally, traveling generates emissions. Isn’t carbon offsetting a way to clear one’s conscience?
L.H: The fact is that 90% of our emissions come from plane trips. But travels have other advantages. They are the best barriers against the misunderstanding between the nations and one of the best ways to learn tolerance. Customers come to us to find meaningful travels. When we offset 20% of our travels’ emissions, our customers were little sensitive. Today, thanks to carbon neutral trips, the message is clear, and our customers are more receptive.
Voyageurs du Monde Group will invest around 7% of its net income each year in the Livelihoods Carbon Fund. Our carbon neutrality is all but cosmetics! Imagine the impact on climate if all firms in our sector did the same!
The actual risk in our job is mass tourism. For example, the classification of some sites by the UNESCO, intended for their protection, sometimes causes the opposite effect: huge tourist flows. We organise tailor-made travels for couples, families, friends’ groups or adventure travels for groups of 5 to 15 people. We are able to make as many people travel while distributing their visits in order to preserve the sites.
Our carbon neutrality thus takes place within a wider corporate vision: to minimise our operations’ impact on the planet.
L.V: Why did Voyageurs du Monde Group choose to invest in the Livelihoods carbon fund?
L.H: The Livelihoods Carbon Fund will provide us with most of the carbon credits we need to render our operations carbon neutral. Voyageurs du Monde was Danone’s very first partner in this venture. In 2010, we indeed co-financed the project with which 80 million mangrove trees were replanted in Senegal.
The Livelihoods Funds allow us to mutualize financial risks with companies that share our values, to diversify our projects and geographies portfolio. Above all, they allow us to invest in projects having very strong social and economic impact. We pay much attention to the concept of ‘additionality’ within projects, namely that a project’s benefits would not have existed without our support. The projects’ certification by independent bodies is therefore seminal when objectively assessing their impact. Likewise, the fact that the Livelihoods Carbon Fund demands its investors’ long-term commitment, because the projects are monitored for 20 years so as to ensure lasting benefits to the communities, corresponds to our corporate vision. Finally, we know we can rely on the experience and the rigour of the team advising the Livelihoods Funds in selecting, deploying and monitoring impactful projects.