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Press release, September 2014: eco-volunteering, civic engagement and ethical mode of travel

The eco-volunteering can resemble a participatory tourism where ecovolunteers join a local team of professionals in the protection of biodiversity and help in the field.

In France this mode of travel is still too little known, but the number of fans is growing. A little less than a dozen agencies, non-profit mostly offer of eco-volunteering missions in French public. Among these is Cybelle Planète since 2005 for citizen participation in the actions of nature protection.

Increasing success

Since its inception, Cybelle Planète is requested by more and more eco-volunteers and projects. 5 recent years, the association has observed an increasing of 149% + of + ecovolunteers and 92% of the number of protection programs for biodiversity partners.

This success is due in part to a better understanding of eco-volunteering by the general public, but also certainly to scientific attention and ethics given by its founder, Céline Arnal, both in projects and returns to give ecovolunteers .

Anxious to give the eco-volunteering strong ethical and transparent, Cybelle Planète created in 2013 the Collective of Francophone eco-volunteering. This approach aims to create a virtuous and ethical practice network for both the organizers and the eco-volunteers.

A practice of eco-volunteering to clarify

After leading in 2013 a study on eco-volunteering the finding was disturbing, transparency is more than organizing structures left behind! For example, only 14% of eco-volunteering organizations showed clearly or is the money paid by ecovolunteers, 10% only explained their criteria for selecting their partners and only 12% of its agencies regularly reassessed missions where are sent ecovolunteers. Moreover, despite a large number of offers of eco-volunteer missions, some of them offer real transparency on the conservation project, the partners, the results ...

These findings are perhaps not only the result of a lack of ethics of the organizers but also a lack of resources given to the need to be accountable to the ecovolunteers who, do not forget, give their time and their money. Whatever the cause, it seemed to us necessary to try to improve things.

participatory debate: Citizen construction of the first ethical charter of eco-volunteering

To clarify the offer and the practice of eco-volunteering both for the organizers and for the travelers, the Collective launched in October 2013 democratic debate, in the form of online questionnaire open to all citizens. The objective is to:

  • Find a common and unified definition of eco-volunteering
  • Create an ethical charter of eco-volunteering to which signatories must respond, point by point, in greater transparency.

This project was conducted in 3 steps. The first two were to take annotations and comments and so to complete the definition and the charter. The third stage, which is taking place until November 15, submit the final versions to internet vote. The points that have received a majority of YES will be definitively validated.

So far 220 participants gave their views, among them, the main structures of eco-volunteering 8 and ecovolunteers and tourism professionals. The Collective has managed to bring together key French players in the eco-volunteering that have all responded positively from the start.

ecovolunteer aware of and motivated

The eco-volunteering is still a recent activity, and the popularity of eco-volunteers is adapted to the offer. Hitherto few of them were aware of the value of their contribution and did not think to have or even ask for complete information on the project in which they participate and / or the results obtained thanks to them.

The eco-volunteer's charter will allow structures to have better visibility and ecovolunteers to choose among the many offers according to specific criteria.

Moreover, ensuring from the outset that the eco-volunteering follow an ethical line, one can envisage a sustainable development of the activity.

For more information

Cybelle Planet: www.cybelle-planete.org

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Website French collective of eco-volunteering