Dans la petite ville du littoral uruguayen de La Paloma, nous avons rencontré Rodrigo et Delfina, les deux biologistes qui ont créé l’OCC (la Organización para la Conservación de Cetáceos).
Le but de cette organisation est de diffuser des bonnes pratiques au sein des divers acteurs du tourisme uruguayen, principalement ceux dont l’activité impacte directement le littoral.
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Extrait de l’article en anglais
The Uruguayan coast: a treasure
Uruguay is a three million people country which seems even smaller when looking at the two behemoths, Argentina and Brazil, that circle it. Its coastal areas are said to be gorgeous and the fauna and landscapes of wild places such as Cabo Polonio, Jose Ignacio or la Paloma tend to appeal to always more tourists from its two neighbors. Each year around November in la Paloma, whales are to be spotted and local companies organize boat trips to “meet” them.
Needless to say that the fast development of tourism can damage the ecosystem in these areas. Rodrigo Garcia studied Biology and has led scientific studies on the environment in Uruguay for more than ten years. He is then aware of the fact that the human footprint jeopardizes the beauty and the sustainability of a coast he is truly attached to.
Creating the OCC
After leading some scientific studies on the whales habitat, Rodrigo created the OCC in 2000 as a not-for-profit organiza-tion. Since then, in addition to the re-search activity, its top priorities are to
raise environmental awareness among the population and share good practices for the touristic companies. For instance, the OCC fosters the construction of whale watching towers replacing tour boats to mitigate the effects of tourism on whale migration.
Sharing the practices
The strategy of the OCC is to define good practices in various areas such as waste management, energy consumption, preservation of marine life (…), to help the companies to implement this practices and to finally lead some social audits to see whether the companies respect their commitments or not.
Rodrigo tells us that the idea is really to educate all the stakeholders in an inclusive manner rather than become a “green policeman”. Indeed, the label of the OCC is sometimes given to some companies which do not respect all the criteria. The idea is to make them take the necessary steps to fulfill the missing commitments.
Yet, trusting the companies does not mean that they don’t need controlling. Some random controls are then led to check that the companies truly respect the rules defined by the label.
So far, the financing of the OCC has mostly relied on the donations of various founda-tions. They have little links with the gov-ernment, “fortunately” says Rodrigo…
On the long run, the strategy is to move towards a more sustainable model. To do so, Rodrigo and Delfina would like to earn an annual fee from the labeled com-panies. The latter would pay it a certain time after getting the label in order not to give the impression that they bought it. Also, the fee must symbolic, at least at the beginning, because many players deem the label as restrictive and would then be reluctant to pay a lot for it.
Assessing the impact
Our discussion with Rodrigo and Delfina led us to think that the audits they carry out turn out to be a preliminary step to a social impact evaluation. Indeed, once the practices are respected, the challenge is to measure whether respecting them has an impact or not. Both the OCC and the companies are then interested in social impact assessment as it would reveal the usefulness of the practices they implement. Also, the evaluation of the eco-nomic impact on the companies is crucial for the companies willing to pay the above-mentioned fee.
Planète d’Entrepreneurs would like to warmly thank Rodrigo and Delfina for and we hope we will be able to work with them soon.
If you want to learn more about the OCC, click here and enjoy their website!
Also available in: Anglais