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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.


The 10 Most Ethical Travel Spots

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, travel, eco-tourism, ethical travel, developing world, human rights, social welfare, Earth Island Journal, Keith Goetzman,

Llamas in Chile

If you want to travel in the developing world yet leave a light footprint, consider pointing yourself to Poland, Suriname, or Chile. These countries are among the surprising selections on “The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations” of 2010 named by Ethical Traveler, reports Earth Island Journal. Here’s the full list:

• Argentina

• Belize

• Chile

• Ghana

• Lithuania

• Namibia

• Poland

• Seychelles

• South Africa

• Suriname

“The ten destinations … offer not only scenic beauty and memorable experiences, but also set a positive example in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights,” writes Earth Island Journal.

The full ethical destinations report at the Ethical Traveler website contains a detailed description of methodology and some interesting notes about the countries that won—and those that didn’t:

• Lithuania and Chile are green champions, having scored particularly well in environmental protection.

• The “developing world” part of the criteria means that some countries that were on last year’s list, such as Estonia and Croatia, have basically prospered their way out of eligibility.

• “Notably, not a single Asian country made it to the Top 10. Irresponsible development, human rights abuses, and a lack of strong environmental policy kept them all off the list again this year. Perhaps surprisingly, though, four African countries—three on the mainland, and one island republic—made the final list. We believe this bodes well for the future of these nations and, hopefully, for the African continent.”

• Nicaragua was bounced from the list because of its poorly run 2008 municipal elections and a worsening record on human rights and freedoms of speech and the press. “We remove Nicaragua with regret, as the country has created many initiatives to help local communities benefit from tourism, and is taking strong steps to protect and restore its tropical forests.”

• Bhutan may be the only country in the world to measure success by a Gross National Happiness Index, but still it doesn’t make the cut: “Despite its sublime natural beauty and extraordinary commitment to preserving the environment,” writes Ethical Traveler, “the highly nationalistic kingdom is still plagued by human rights issues.”

Sources: Earth Island Journal, Ethical Traveler

Image by doug88888, licensed under Creative Commons.

annie ory
3/12/2010 9:28:45 AM

Hmmm. I live in Argentina, and I can't believe it made this list. No emissions controls on vehicles, no enforcement of speed limits (which control emissions), no recycling - recycling is done in all developing countries when things ARE reused by necessity including cars which stay on the roads forever & also pollute a lot). ALL the fresh fruits, vegetables & meats grown in Patagonia to the city, what isn't bought by exporters or the stores in the city is SHIPPED BACK to Patagonia by truck! Subsidized electricity & fuel means no financial motivation to conserve. No controls for industry means it's only "green" in the sense that there are relatively untouched places here. It is the dirtiest place I've ever lived, polluted, garbage thrown wherever, the people basically don't know or care about the environment. They are learning, are being taught, but mostly by outside orgs. In hotels towels & sheets are washed & changed every day. Heating/cooling units, appliances for the home are not up to standards of conservation. When the people demonstrate against the government they pile up tons of garbage, tires, all sorts of things & set it on fire. I've never seen a place where food is so package heavy. A quart of ice cream comes in a styrofoam container inside a thick paper wrapping inside a thick plastic bag with plastic utensils even if you say you're taking it home. What were the criteria for the list?