Our friends over at EthicalTraveler.org have selected ten developing countries to make up its annual list of The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Travel Destinations.
Over the last half century, as developments in commercial aircraft and information technology have been taken advantage of and used more widely, the world has become increasingly interconnected. This fact has brought opportunities for global adventurers to travel like never before. However, the typical traveler’s limited resources don’t allow him or her to travel to every destination in the world: We must choose, and for the sake of the planet we must choose responsibly. To do so, we must understand and maximize our power as consumers, using our dollars and sense to financially support the most ethical destinations.
But what qualities do the folks at Ethical Traveler look for when measuring the world’s most ethical travel destinations? The primary factors they take into consideration include Environmental Protection, Social Welfare and Human Rights. After weighing the scores of hundreds of destinations around the world, the countries to be congratulated this year (in alphabetical order) are:
The folks at Ethical Traveler have an incredibly in-depth ranking procedure that compares data from sources such as Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the World Bank, and many other environmental indicators such as the Socioeconomic Data & Applications Center and the Environmental Performance Index, just to name a few. The data is also examined over time, to determine the growth of these destinations in these critical areas.
Many countries that did not make their 2012 list ranked very high on one or two of the aforementioned criteria, such as Environmental Protection or Social Welfare, but failed to meet the standards on the others, such as Human Rights. The countries selected for the Best Ethical Destinations list really have to have the whole package: The highest rank went to The Bahamas, followed by Chile.
In Environmental Protection, Costa Rica had the highest marks– the only developing country in the world to score in the “100-85” category in the Environmental Protection Index (EPI). Chile scored particularly high in environmental protection as well. Namibia has been thought of by many environmentalists as one of the most environmentally progressive countries in Africa, but they have not been included on Ethical Traveler’s list because of their horrific fur seal slaughter rates. Hopefully they will end the annual wildlife massacre soon, and be included on next year’s list.
Social Welfare included indicators such as child mortality rates (Serbia and Latvia scored particularly well), access to safe drinking water, malnutrition, vaccinations, as well as sustainable water and agricultural management.
Perhaps the most interesting criteria, though, was Human Rights. The Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Palau and Uruguay received the highest possible scores in Political Rights and Civil Liberties. Rights for homosexuals also proved to be critical in consideration for the rankings. Argentina’s senate passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage (the only Latin American country to do so). Nations such as Ghana, Belize and Guyana have incredibly impressive records in environmental standards and boast a lot of travel appeal, but their anti-gay statutes are stringently enforced and for that reason alone they were removed from consideration.
While all of the country on the EthicalTraveler.org list would be excellent destinations to visit, the indirect aim of their ranking system is to urge travelers to become more mindful of how powerful their travel choices can be, and what those choices say about their personal priorities. We here at Green Global Travel hope that you’ll take these factors into consideration in your future travel plans, and perhaps you’ll prioritize visiting one of the great destinations on this list. –Raffi Simel
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