50 people and places making the world a better place right now

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As we focus on how to make more conscious travel decisions, we look to some of our favourite globetrotters to shine a light on the businesses big and small working hard to improve the planet. Part of our Under One Sky initiative, this is our list of the people, places and organisations making the world a better place in 2020.

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Fogo Island Inn, Canada

    Chosen by Juliet Kinsman, our sustainability editor and founder of eco-hotel website Bouteco

    ‘My dearest hero is Zita Cobb of Fogo Island Inn, Canada. Once the third-highest-paid female executive in North America, the eighth-generation Fogo islander made her millions in the tech industry. Determined to revitalise the community that raised her, she returned home to rebuild the economy of the fishing-dependent isle of only 2,000 residents. In doing so, she has created a vibrant creative hub. Zita established the Shorefast Foundation in 2003 with her two brothers, and all profits from Fogo Island Inn, the charity’s seminal venture, are funnelled directly into the local community. In 2016, Zita’s commitment to rural development and social entrepreneurship was recognised and she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Dash Harris

    Chosen by Cherae Robinson, mastermind behind Tastemakers Africa – rethinking our approach to the continent and connecting travellers with locally owned experiences

    ‘I’m really moved by the work Dash Harris is doing with Afro-Latinx communities. From her documentary Negro to her company AfroLatino Travel, she’s tackling issues of identity erasure and cultural preservation through storytelling and travel. As a person who lived in Mexico City for three years and has explored Central and South America, the plight of African descendants across this region of the world is often unknown, misunderstood and misrepresented. Dash’s work is giving a voice to people while using tourism as a bridge in understanding and an income generator for communities whose cultures are used for branding their countries while being shut out of the economic benefit. I really commend her efforts.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Greta Thunberg

    Chosen by Andrew Stembridge, heads up Iconic Luxury Hotels, which includes Cliveden and Chewton Glen

    ‘It has to be Greta Thunberg. Probably the bravest and most influential 17-year-old on the planet.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Vana, India

    Chosen by Frances Geoghegan, the dynamo behind wellness-focused Healing Holidays and an authority on transformative trips

    ‘Veer Singh – what he has created at Vana in India is very special. It’s an incredible space for rebalancing. There is an assembly of Ayurvedic doctors, yoga teachers, Tibetan healers, fitness experts, a brilliant acupuncturist and an inspiring Ayurvedic chef. It really is a place that gives everything for the people who come here.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Obamas

    Chosen by Francis Ford Coppola, wine maker, hotelier, force of nature, director of ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’

    ‘Barack and Michelle Obama were such an eloquent influential president and first lady, still young and capable of bringing to life the most beautiful few lines about our country: “…and crown thy good with brotherhood. From sea to shining sea.” Melinda and Bill Gates are also an inspiration, dedicated to health and education. I had the memorable experience of being seated next to Melinda at dinner one evening, and my estimation of Bill tripled by virtue of him choosing such a great woman. And Michael Bloomberg, although I’ve never met him. I felt and saw with my own eyes his priorities those many years that he was mayor of New York City, and was impressed that his focus was on making people’s lives better wherever he could.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Landmark Trust

    Chosen by Alexa Chung, the designer who has defined tomboy Brit style forever

    ‘The Landmark Trust restores buildings of historic interest or architectural merit to their former glory as holiday rentals. It removes all TVs and techy things, which is hugely appealing to me. There is no Wi-Fi and even the interior walls are painted to the exact colour they once were. It’s like stepping back in time. It does a wonderful job at preserving spaces so future generations can enjoy them.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Debbie Banks of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

    Chosen by Aldo Kane, ex-marines sniper turned Atlantic-rowing, erupting-volcano-abseiling daredevil adventurer

    ‘Debbie Banks of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). She has been campaigning for more than 20 years to end tiger farming in South-east Asia and raise awareness of the illegal poaching and trafficking. The work she and the EIA are doing is second to none and needs everyone’s support.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Chef Doug McMaster

    Chosen by Ryan Chetiyawardana, the cocktail whizz known as Mr Lyan has an empire spanning from DC to London, where he opened the world’s first low-waste bar

    ‘Pioneering chef Doug McMaster, who’s bringing about change through sustainable food systems; Dilmah Tea and Rockland Distilleries in Sri Lanka; and Copenhagen-based MAD, a cooking community with a social conscience.’

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  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Green School in Ubud, Bali

    Chosen by Carole Bamford, holistic-living entrepreneur who turned Daylesford and Bamford into organic super-brands

    ‘The Green School in Ubud, Bali. It does amazing work in education, instructing the next generation about sustainability in ways that gives them purpose and independence. They have big goals and want to think about the world as a community where we each play a role in helping to shape the future – they’re teaching children to be change-makers.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Prince of Wales

    Chosen by Martina Mondadori, Italian publisher of maximalist interiors magazine ‘Cabana’ with an eye for the quirky

    ‘I think the Prince of Wales is really pretty cool in what he does for craftsmanship in Britain and around the world. I’m looking forward to visiting the cottages he restored in Romania.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Savory Institute, Zimbabwe

    Chosen by Beks Ndlovu, top Zimbabwean guide turned African Bush Camps innovator who’s transforming the safari model

    ‘The Savory Institute in Zimbabwe, founded by Allan Savory. It teaches communities how to restore land back to its natural state and promotes biodiversity.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Livia Firth

    Chosen by Marie-Louise Scio, fashion-favourite daughter leading her family’s Dolce Vita Pellicano Hotels for the next generation

    ‘Livia Firth of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Community investment and environmental projects

    Chosen by Thomasina Miers, tequila-shooting, spice-loving food writer who launched Mexican small-plates hit Wahaca

    ‘I think anyone who is making their businesses work while investing in their community, in environmental projects, in helping to protect biodiversity and putting local, seasonal food on their menus has my vote. I would like to see a green tax on all travel from here on in so that we can continue to explore, but will have to invest in eco projects or carbon sinking for the privilege.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Nicholas Locke at REGUA, Brazil

    Chosen by Paul Irvine, co-founder of South America specialist Dehouche

    ‘Nicholas Locke at REGUA in Cachoeiras de Macacu, Rio de Janeiro. He is an Anglo-Brazilian who decided to convert his family ranch to a conservation project 24 years ago and has since reforested around 350 hectares of the Atlantic Rainforest – one of the most successful schemes of its type, focusing on one of the most endangered and biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Recently REGUA has even overseen the successful reintroduction of tapirs into the reserve.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    The Conservation Collective

    Chosen by Rossella Beaugie, one half of The Thinking Traveller, key holder to the smartest villas in Sicily and beyond

    ‘The Conservation Collective, headed up by Ben Goldsmith and Jade Brudenell, is doing wonderful things in the field of sustainability and ecology. It has launched a series of projects around the world aimed at limiting the effects of tourism, preserving the natural wonders of destinations and promoting green practices. The local population always plays a lead role, and the funding raised is used carefully to support deserving initiatives. It also heightens awareness about ecological challenges and encourages visitors to practise responsible travel. Following the success of projects in the Balearics and the Caribbean, the collective set up the Aeolian Islands Preservation Fund a few years ago, and, in 2019, the Ionian Environment Foundation.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Positive-impact wildlife tourism

    Chosen by Jaisal Singh, tiger-tracking conservationist whose Suján camps have recast the Indian safari experience

    ‘There are many I look up to and respect who are doing amazing things. In Africa, the Varty family who run Londolozi Private Game Reserve; the Jouberts of Great Plains Conservation; Luke Bailes of Singita; and the Oppenheimers of the Tswalu reserve, all of whom are leaders in positive-impact wildlife tourism. In South America, the Klabins of Caiman Ecological Refuge with their Jaguar conservation programme and Matías de Cristóbal whose Awasi has a puma foundation. But there are so many more unsung heroes – the question deserves a book.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Africa Nature Investors (ANI)

    Chosen by Noo Saro-Wiwa, the writer who chronicled her travels to Nigeria in ‘Looking for Transwonderland’

    ‘Africa Nature Investors (ANI) is a non-profit organisation that aims to establish conservation in Nigeria with support from African business investors. So many conservationists in Africa are from outside the continent, so this is a real novelty. ANI has taken on Gashaka-Gumti National Park, one of Nigeria’s most remote (and therefore best-preserved) natural reserves. It contains the largest population of chimpanzees in west Africa, and one of the oldest, most biodiverse montane rainforests in the world. The company plans to establish high-end ecotourism there and is training rangers to guard against poaching of pangolins, bushmeat and rosewood trees.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Maryam Montague

    Chosen by Violette, Estee Lauder’s make-up queen has a cult following and puts together her own travel guides

    ‘Maryam Montague. She’s the owner of a wonderful secret hotel, Peacock Pavilions, in Morocco, and has launched non-profit Project Soar and Agent GirlPower, a brand that gives Arabic women and teenage girls access to education.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Letting Grow in West London

    Chosen by Giorgio Locatelli, the charismatic chef elevated Italian food in London with long-time Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli

    ‘There are so many contenders. Where does one start? Hannah Niskanen, who I originally met through my son Jack, started up a charity project called Letting Grow in West London in 2018 to act as a platform to promote a greener planet by teaching schoolchildren to grow vegetables in public spaces. She is so full of hope and is doing wonderful things for the greater good.’

  • 50 people and places making the world a better place right now

    Daylesford Farm, Gloucestershire

    Chosen by Laurie Lynn Stark, her LA rocker jewellery brand Chrome Hearts is worn by Bella Hadid and Aerosmith

    ‘Alice Bamford’s One Gun Ranch in Malibu, and also her family’s Daylesford Farm in Gloucestershire.’

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