Tell us a bit about your background - how did you end up in this job?
I completed a Master of International Development and was looking for a role that combined my passion for global sustainability and love for travel - for me, the two go hand in hand as experiencing and connecting to a place firsthand increases your care and desire to protect it.
I wanted to work in an area where I could have the greatest impact, and AE Expeditions' (part of Aurora Expeditions) purpose, values and willingness to progress in its sustainability journey drew me to this industry and role.
What is your role at AE Expeditions?
I work closely with every department to ensure that sustainability is embedded across all areas of the business. We have a fantastic team that all have a shared focus in bettering our social and environmental impact.
Within that, I support the development of the organisation's sustainability initiatives, which include projects such as managing our greenhouse gas (GHG) and climate strategy, our Climate Neutral certification, impact reporting, social and environmental performance of our supply chain and food sourcing and have also been part of the efforts towards obtaining B Corp certification.
What are your proudest achievements so far?
One of the achievements I've been proudest of was producing our first Impact Report, which we released in July 2023. It was a pivotal moment in our sustainability journey and the start of comprehensively reviewing and reporting on all the incredible initiatives we have already implemented and continue, as well as outlining some of our future goals.
The portfolio of sustainability programs, actions and measures outlined in this report have the overarching goal of reducing negative impacts on the environment and communities, contributing to building a more sustainable world for future generations. We have also acknowledged that our journey and emissions reduction is ongoing and that we are committed to accountability, transparency and being part of the movement towards making the expedition cruise industry more sustainable.
I'm so proud of this first report and I'm already thinking about how we can enhance each project to continue our progress for our next report in 2025.
We see the company champions 'Sustainability in Action'. Tell us more about the pillars of your programme.
There are two pillars to our program: Planet and People. Under these pillars we have values and initiatives which fall under them:
Care for climate - emissions reduction strategies, GHG reporting, 100% climate neutral certification
Leave a lighter footprint - Reduction of plastics, water conservation, waste management and environmental systems.
Educate and Enrich - Citizen Science projects, education on board via our expert teams, honouring female conservationists as part of our Women in Conservation program.
Collaborate for Change - building and strengthening partnerships with organisations and individuals who share our purpose, vision and ambition.
We understand you are aiming for B Corp certification - very exciting! Tell us more about the developments and changes you need to make to achieve that.
Yes, this was a natural next step for the company and we are so close now and very excited to complete this final stage in the certification process.
It is quite a lengthy and detailed process, and understandably so. When people think of sustainability they naturally think of the environmental impacts and policies first, but B Corp certification is this and much more. Its impact assessment covers five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers.
As a result, it has been a great exercise to review and enhance our impact across every area of our business, including amending our company constitution and formalising many policies; much of this was work that we were already doing, but now we are meeting a higher level of accountability and have made a legal commitment to being purpose driven, balancing people, environment and profit, and to consider the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders. It is a powerful step for businesses to make.
In what way does your company differ from its competitors in the environmental arena?
Our new purpose-built ships are state-of-the-art, with advanced systems that support our efforts to reduce our GHG emissions, such as shore-power connectivity, Selective Catalytic Reduction systems, and the Ulstein X-bow.
We are 100% climate neutral, a certification we achieve by measuring and offseting our GHG emissions annually, using best practice methodology and implement an emissions reduction plan that is in line with Science Based Targets, supporting efforts to ensure we are contributing to the protection of the incredible and fragile environments that we visit. While we recognise that this is an interim step to reaching net zero emissions, it is an important immediate way to act on climate while we continue to decarbonise our operations in accordance with the latest technology advancements to help get us there.
AE Expeditions also passionate about climate change education and raising awareness of the urgency with which we must all work together to protect our shared planet. We want to not only participate in environmental initiatives, but lead them. Examples include our Women in Conservation program, which dedicates our second ship, the Sylvia Earle, to seven pioneering female conservationists, including Dr Earle herself. Additionally, the Antarctic Climate Expedition in partnership with Dr. Sylvia Earle and Ocean Geographic, took place in February 2023. The overarching mission of this expedition was to raise government and public awareness, highlighting that change is needed now to reverse the loss of ice to the region and the ongoing dangers of our warming climate. This groundbreaking project showcased how the travel industry can make a positive impact and lead climate change initiatives.
How do you offset your greenhouse and carbon emissions?
We complete our GHG accounting annually - the GHG Protocol categorises emissions into scope 1, 2 and 3. The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by our business and supply chain is calculated in terms of Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (tCO2e). We then procure an equal number of Carbon Credits, which compensate for our annual carbon footprint by saving emissions elsewhere around the world.
Each unit reduces an equal number of GHG emissions, so 1 tCO2e = 1 carbon credit. It is an immediate step we take to compensate for our emissions, while we work on / invest in longer-term solutions to decarbonise our operations, which is arguably the most important step in a business' climate action.
What is your personal favourite holiday experience?
Anything adventurous, educational, and fun. I enjoy meeting new people, hearing about their lives and experiences. I learn so much by connecting with people. I also love getting out into nature, hiking, and having the opportunity to see wildlife; I feel so much by visiting wild and untouched places around the world.
What's the best AE Expeditions voyage you have ever done, and why?
I have been on two voyages, one in Antarctica and one in the Arctic. Both were completely different, but magical in their own unique way. The beauty of expedition travel is that you wake up every day excited for what the environment and nature might bring. In the Arctic, while we were in Svalbard, we had one of the most memorable moments of my life watching a polar bear and her cub interacting in a way that resembled human mother and child relationships.
The cub was so playful, energetic and explorative, playing with seaweed in the water and jumping all over mum. In Antarctica, I was constantly in awe of the wildlife, particularly the thousands of penguins just going about their business. The whole landscape was overwhelming, in the most fantastic way.