Ethical Traveler is a project of the non-profit Earth Island Institute that is dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be a potent form of diplomacy, and giving travellers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community. Every year, it releases a list of the 10 most ethical travel destinations in the developing world. These 10 selected countries were found to be doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment and supporting social welfare, all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. According to the Ethical Traveler, by visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices. By visiting these countries, we show appreciation for ethical behavior. We promote ethical culture.
As alphabetically listed, the 10 recommended most ethical places to visit in 2016 are:
Cabo Verde, which is located off the northwest coast of Africa, is aiming to source 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. It is also leading the way on marine protection and has established important programs to protect endangered loggerhead turtles from hunting and beach pollution. A leader on gender equality, it has many women holding leadership positions in both the private sector and in government. It just might also elect it’s first female prime minister in 2016. It has also openly recognized LGBT rights.
Dominica has a strong and free healthcare system that helped it earn a place on the list. In 2015, the country was certified free of measles, mumps and rubella. It has also made strides in geothermal energy development, leading the Caribbean islands when it comes to renewables. It has achieved 94 percent literacy, well above the global average of 84 percent and has increased efforts to protect whales, creating a mandatory primary school curriculum about respect for marine mammals and other ocean life.
Grenada was included in the list partly because of its work to regenerate coral reefs through the establishment of a coral nursery program. It is also active in the movement for global action on climate change. In terms of human rights, it has begun discussing LGBT rights within the context of constitutional reform.
Federated States of Micronesia, which is made up of over 600 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, protected 78 acres of forested wetland in the Yela Valley on Kosrae, the country’s main island. Eventually, it also plans to protect the entire 1,400-acre valley and is pushing to attain 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. It has plans to increase Internet access and received a perfect score in Freedom House’s yearly report on civil and political rights.
Mongolia, which has helped 70 percent of its nomadic communities to have access to solar power. In addition, it has protected nearly 15 percent of its land. Among the nations that made the 2016 list, it has one of the lowest unemployment rates, at just 5 percent and has also developed an impressive end-of-life care program, including subsidies for families caring for terminally ill members and improved access to pain medication. Additionally, it has begun widespread reforms of its legal system, including providing strengthened protections against hate crimes, bigotry and discrimination. It is working to abolish the death penalty.
Panama, which received the second highest environmental protection score on this list, in part because it has doubled-down on reforestation efforts. It also received high marks on measures of social justice, reporting less than 5 percent unemployment and the highest life expectancy at birth of any of the countries on the list. It is ranked seventh in the world on the “Happy Planet Index” which measures “perceived well-being, life expectancy and ecological footprint.” It also stands out for having ratified the six big international conventions on child labor. In terms of animal welfare, it has banned dog-fighting, greyhound racing and hare coursing. It also prohibits bullfighting and has placed restrictions on animal performances in circuses.
Samoa, which has been actively involved in the climate change movement, has plans to generate 100 percent of its electricity from sustainable sources by 2017 and has recently opened new solar plants to help reach this goal. In 2015, it received a perfect score from Freedom House in the nonprofit’s yearly report on civil and political rights. It recently released a “State of Human Rights” report aimed at increasing protections for women, as well as for prisoners and people with disabilities.
Tonga, whichreceived the highest score on environmental protection, in part due to the creation of new national marine reserves. It is also pushing hard when it comes to renewables, having already built nine solar arrays on outer islands as part of its plan to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2020. It is also leading the way on LGBT rights. Last year, it hosted its first Pacific Human Rights on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Conference. Moreover, 99 percent of Tongans are now literate.
Tuvalu, which has also been actively pushing for international action to address climate change, is a member of “The Vulnerable 20,” a group of nations that shares innovative approaches to climate finance. Like Micronesia, it is also working hard to increase Internet access, which will, among other things, be a boost to education. The South Pacific island nation is also making an effort to address women’s rights and gender-based violence issues.
Uruguay, which now meets 90 percent of its energy needs with renewable sources, is striving for a 100 percent electric public transportation sector. It is also honing in on education, working to lower high-school dropout rates, increase college scholarships and distribute laptops to both teachers and students. In terms of human rights, Uruguay was an early signatory to the new Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons. It has also established itself as a champion of animal welfare. It has already issued a legal decree entitling all animals to be free from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, suffering and disease and fear and distress and free to express normal behavior. Animal performances in circuses are banned and working animals have been given protections against overwork and abuse.
If you want to see these places, make sure to plan ahead so you’ll enjoy your trip even more. Consider obtaining a decent travel insurance policyto travel worry-free. Good luck on your next adventure!