SmartVoyager – ecological certification
In 2000, Ecoventura became one of the first recipients of SmartVoyager, a voluntary environmental program developed by Corporacion y Desarollo from Ecuador and The Rainforest Alliance from New York. In order to comply with SmartVoyager, tour boats have to meet a strict set of conservation and social standards that were designed by scientists, conservation experts and tour operators based on principals to conserve natural ecosystems, reduction of negative impacts on the environment, risk of introduction and extraction of species and conservation of Native/ Endemic species, just and fair treatment of workers, community relations and local welfare, control of the supply and storage of supplies, integrated waste management and emissions control, security, quality control, planning and monitoring.
Through an initiative of President and Owner Santiago Dunn, Ecoventura has invested upwards of $500,000 to refurbish its fleet of four expedition yachts in order to meet these stringent ecology-minded standards.
See SmartVoyager certification program requirements here:
In order to comply, all our yachts produce their own fresh water through reverse osmosis desalinization units, and use only four stroke outboard engines on the Zodiacs. Four stroke engines are 70% quieter, emit virtually no fumes and consume 50% less fuel than two-stroke engines. Tour boats must use only lead-free or TBT-free paint. No varnish is applied to the exterior walkways. Only yellow exterior lights can be used so they do not attract insects. The cooling elements used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems are free of R-12 gas that could potentially escape and add to the green-house effect.
Wastewater is contained in holding tanks while a yacht is in port or close to shore. After a stringent treatment process of black and gray wastewater done through purified ozone, the water is discharged when the yachts are 12 miles from the coast in accordance with MARPOL. Only biodegradable soaps and detergents are used for cleaning on board the yachts. The standards also require an improved quality of life including sanitary living conditions, medical insurance and advanced training for all crew members. There is a waste management system and garbage-recycling program onboard all Ecoventura yachts with garbage receptacles placed on all decks with separate containers for plastics, paper, glass and organic waste. Passengers are encouraged to reduce, recycle and conserve energy during their cruise. Signs are posted in each cabin to remind our guests to recycle. Passengers refill water bottles from a container of purified drinking water.
Crew training plays a vital role in reducing and recycling waste. Organic waste is compacted and discharged and inorganic sold waste is classified into paper, glass and plastic and turned into the local municipal waste service and recycling center. Our policy is to change towels daily. However, in order to conserve energy, we only change towels that are placed on the floor.
In 2005, The Rainforest Alliance presented Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura, with the prestigious Individual Sustainable Standard-Setter for making a significant contribution to environmental conservation and sustainability. Santiago Dunn says his goal was to inspire others as well as to be part of the solution for the issues facing tourism in Galapagos. It was a big commitment to participate initially in the SmartVoyager program because it added considerable costs to the operation as well as an initial investment. However, our involvement only motivated us to continue striving to reduce the impact of our operation on the environment.
In 2011, Ecoventura met requirements to earn the Rainforest Alliance verification standard for tourism services in recognition of its commitment to conserving the environment and supporting local communities. The verification has been recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the gold standard for sustainable tourism. It provides an assurance that a hotel or tour operator has met comprehensive social, environmental and economic standards that conserve natural resources, protect wildlife and help local communities thrive.
In 2014, Ecoventura was recognized as the first tour operator to score 100% of the critical criteria; including 1) Establishing a formal and reliable system that ensures the physical integrity of the persons involved in the business’ management and services. 2) Defined and implemented concrete actions to guarantee the labor rights and emotional and physical well-being of the customs, cultures and other socio-cultural manifestations of its community. 3) Demonstrated a solid commitment to the rational use of water, biodiversity conservation and the prevention of natural resource pollution.
“Displaying the Rainforest Alliance VerifiedTM mark in Ecoventura messaging will help bring the urgency of sustainability issues to the consumer,” said Santiago Dunn, Ecoventura president. Dunn said his company is a natural fit because of its long-standing, mission-driven leadership in protecting the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. “The Rainforest Alliance was one of our original mentors when we started our journey to green the operation in the late 1990’s, being part of this new initiative makes us proud to continue the tradition and further our commitment to sustainability.”
If you would like to join or contribute to The Rainforest Alliance, visit www.rainforest-alliance.org.