Gaia guide2011 for eco travellers


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The Gaia Guide 2011 is published by Gaia Discovery, focusing on responsible tourism and travel in Asia.

The Gaia Guide covers things like what to do and how to travel to ensure you cause least environmental impact; what to look for in an ethical tourist operator; how to help local indigenous communities; eco-diving advice; sound eco-lodge design, expert opinion on responsible tourism – and a list of upcoming eco-tourism events, activities and festivals in Asia.

The printed guide is distributed free at travel fairs, eco-travel events, environmental seminars, social enterprise retail stores, ethical restaurants and cafes in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hongkong. The soft copy of the guide is available for free download on Gaia Discovery and associate websites, making responsible tourism content available to the world.

Scheduled for production once a year, the guide builds on Gaia Discovery website’s reputation for clear, unbiased reporting for people that care about environmental and eco-tourism issues.

The Gaia Guide 2012 will be published in October 2012.

Contact Ms Naguran for editorial and advertising inquiries at

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Gaia guide2011 for eco travellers

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  2. 2. our corridor With more than 124,000 square kilometers of mostly rainforest, Sarawak is naturally blessed with numerous waterfalls, many of which have yet to be explored. Surrender yourself to the cold, fresh, sparkling mountain water and let your worries swiftly wash away. Come live the adventure.Step onto the longest tree-based walkway in the world and get up-and-close to the pulse of the rainforest. At 25 metresabove ground and 480 metres in length, the Mulu Canopy Walk will provide you an experience unlike any other. Fromdense vegetation to colourful owers, swinging monkeys to swooping birds, you’ll discover something new with every step.Come live the adventure. 3w w w. s a r a w a k t o u r i s m . c o m
  3. 3. Tourism is a vital industry FOREWORD especially in underdeveloped and developing economies. Excessive and irresponsible Jose Ramos-Horta tourism development and President, Republic of Timor-Leste and practices, however, can lead to Nobel Prize Laureate significant stresses on society, natural landscapes and wildlife. The environment really needs our care. With natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts, floods and more, we see further challenge to our environments. Ecotourism offers one part of a solution that can help bring balance. It can serve the interests of tourists while at the same time stimulate prosperity and sustainability. Ecotourism is set to grow. In 2004, according to the United Nations are on the move, try walking or cycling instead ofWorld Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), hiring a car – you’ll see and smell more that way.ecotourism and nature tourism were growing Trust me, I walk all the time!three times faster than general tourism. There are a number of ethical eco-resorts and The UNWTO forecasted at the beginning of eco-lodges in the region that provide comfortablethis year that international tourist arrivals are even luxurious accommodation while ensuringprojected to increase by some 4-5% in 2011 in minimal negative impact on the environment.spite of economic challenges, political upheavals They are usually designed to maximise alternativeand natural disasters. energy use, promote water conservation, use So tourism is set to grow. And you can help sensible waste management and employ localthe environment at the same time - instead of communities with fair wages.being an ordinary tourist, why not be an eco- Staying with these kind of ethical resorts ortourist? As an eco-tourist or eco-traveller you booking up with eco-tour operators will help tohave the power to make a change. For one, you support their businesses while ensuring aand your family can bask in a local cultural sustainable future for all. I would also like toexperience at a charming but new territory, congratulate the Gaia Discovery editorial team forexplore the pristine countryside, meet genuinely producing the inaugural Gaia Guide, which is aendearing local people, explore the attractions step in the right direction for preserving Asianand sample local delicacies. beauty, heritage, culture, natural environments Agro-tourism is another expanding and communities.opportunity. Farmers generate additional incomeby hosting visitors around their family-owned Jose Ramos-Horta, President, Republic of Timor-croplands, educating how vegetables and fruit Leste; Nobel Prize Laureate and Honorary Advisor, Gaiagrow, and promoting farm products. When you Discovery. 3
  4. 4. CONTENTS The only handy guide to responsible tourism, culture and heritage in Asia. 8 TAKE ACTION 12 ETHICAL 16 ADVENTURE SIKKIM STUDIES takes a DAVE WILLIAMS left behind TIMOR LESTE is one of the trip to the foothills of the corporate climbing to take truly unspoiled places to go Himalayas with some up a life’s dream of in SE Asia. But take some Singapore Scouts. kayaking in Thailand. soap and mossie repellent! 4
  5. 5. CONTENTS20 WHAT’S ON GAIA DISCOVERY’s guide to the most interesting, challenging and eco- friendly events and happenings across the region. Check them out. 28 SCUBA DIVING BALI and PUERTO GALERA both offer some of the coolest places to take the plunge. Not just stunning in terms of variety, they offer an astonishing number of undersea flora and fauna22 DO’S AND DONT’S varieties. TRAVELLING somewhere special? Then treat it thatway - and do the right thingfor yourself, the planet, and the people. 24 DESTINATION SARAWAK The KELABIT HIGHLANDS in Sarawak offer somestunning and totally original 32 CULTURE places to stay. Get right back to nature with a long KADAYAWAN in the weekend stay in a Philippines holds a regular longhouse. festival of indigenous people that will make your eyes pop and ears ring with joy. Then there’s the food... 38 RESORT THE FARM and KRI ECO 34 EXPERT RESORT both promise you will come away feeling HITESH MEHTA designs, refreshed, revitalized and builds and photographs ready to do your bit for the some of the finest eco- environment. The Farm lodges on the planet. Find shows how vegan living out how he started, and can be a delectable choice. what drives him. 5
  6. 6. PUBLISHER MUSES Ecotourism dawned in the environment and improves thelate 1970s; by early 1990s it was well-being of localthe fastest growing sector of the people." (TIES, 1990)tourism industry, expanding Ecotourism goes beyondglobally between 20% to 34 % nature-based tourism inper year. The prospects for benefiting local folks andecotourism are huge. Travellers, destinations environmentally,especially from Europe, are socially, culturally andseeking to reduce their carbon economically.footprint while submersing A well-respected eco-themselves into local activities, architect, Hitesh Mehtahence adding – not subtracting (featured here with me) has– value to communities visited. spelt out this framework In thinking green, tourism clearly in the International The Gaia Guide is published byand hospitality operators such Ecolodge Guidelines. To help Gaia Discovery in Singapore for travellers travel agents, transportation portray the concept ofcompanies, hotels, resorts, ecolodges better, he has It is printed three times a year,community-based homestays, authored, photographed and distributed for free at high trafficcamps and convention centers illustrated the amazing environmental seminars, tourismare starting to embrace social Authentic Ecolodges “chai” events, travel operators, hotels,and economic responsibility. table book. Read about resorts, dive centers, sports centers, In putting together The Gaia Mehta, who also sits on our restaurants and more in Asian cities.Guide, we strive to feature such panel of advisers, on page 32. The Gaia Guide is also posted on theresponsible operators from Asia. The Gaia Guide points web! Find it on Gaia Discovery asThe criteria used in selecting travellers towards responsible well as partnering websites, for freethese are the same used by The tourism. We hope you’ll enjoy access and download.International Ecotourism the launch issue and look THE TEAMSociety. It defines ecotourism forward to your feedback! Jeremy Torr, Editoras: "Responsible travel to Mallika Naguran, Publishernatural areas that conserves the Mallika Contributors: Gunver Bennekou, Kayti Denham, Henrylito D.Tacio, Anusha K, James SUBSCRIBE TO THE GAIA Teo, Simon Pridmore Photographers: Adam Butler, Daniel Groshong, Imran Ahmad, Scotty Graham GUIDE & GAIA DISCOVERY TO Printed by Percetakan Imprint in West Malaysia on FSC paper and soy ink ENJOY STORIES AND TREATS... Gaia Discovery 15 Upper Boon Keng Road #15-1067 GAIADISCOVERY.COM Singapore 380015 Tel: +65 9663 7289 mal 6
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  8. 8. TakeAction SIKKIM STUDIES by James TeoHow scouts from Singaporetravelled halfway round the worldto help build a newenvironmentally-sensitiveclassroom for remote villagechildren in India FLOODS ARE in the news metres of elevation. All of which globally right now, but in the makes getting to school very Indian Himalayan province of difficult for students, many of Sikkim, the clouds dump about whom live in isolated 300 centimetres every year communities on remote hillsides. without fail. That’s a lot of water, Often, they simply can’t go. and it regularly demolishes the roads. In the dry season, the “We wanted our children to roads barely cling to steep get a good education year hillsides. During the monsoon, round,” says Santabir Limboo, a they usually lose the battle and village elder in Hee Bermiok, one end up in the bottom of the of the tiny villages perched high valley. In fact getting there from above the Rangit River in West the nearest airport (Bagdogra) Sikkim. Limboo and the village takes about five hours on a elders solved the problem by good day. setting up their own private school in a rented village house Sikkim Students – and the local children came inSingapore scouts forgot droves.their PSPs and bought- More, if the road has been in hawker food for a swept away by an avalanche or landslide. Vehicles only travel at But the new school – the week and a half while an average speed of 25kph but Pole Star English School - was they got down to the that’s understandable given that so successful that it led to serious task of building the road climbs and swoops another problem: lack of space.the new classroom from There simply wasn’t enough scratch. Tough! around countless hairpin bends, crossing through thousands of room for so many keen seekers 8
  9. 9. of knowledge. The villagers had the land, but didn’t have the manpower or the money to add any more classrooms for would-be HELP AT HAND students. Coincidentally, some Singapore Rover Scouts were looking for a challenge with a difference. One of them, Jeremy Chan, worked for award-winning Akitek Tenggara and had experience building environmentally sensitive structures. He wanted to do something green, but useful. As chance would have it, Jayne Low, Singapore-based regional marketing manager for Jet Airways had just started Limboo and the other looking at Sikkim as a destination. Low village elders spoke to heard through the grapevine about Hee local tourism activist and Bermiok’s school - and the scouts - and green missionary realised she held the key to the problem. “I Supratim Raj Basu spoke to my boss and told him I thought (below), who said a few we should help put these people together,” classrooms would solve she recalls, “and he said yes!” their problem. Basu founded innovative Help Some Bamboo Best Tourism, dedicated to pupils travel Back in Singapore, Chan started improving the life ofhours to get to drawing up plans for the extension. First remote villagers, but not school at the expense of their culture. 9
  10. 10. they would need bamboo poles was that or we stopped work.”TRUE CALLING to support the roof, strong enough to cope with excitable The long-awaited classrooms slowly emerged. “We established this schoolchildren. The poles had to school here so that the be soaked in mountain streams Nifty Fiftychildren could learn, but for a few weeks to leach out the The job was almost done; as important, learn in weak, pithy cores. The roofs the teachers gave it the once-English too,” says Kabita would be sailcloth or corrugated over. The extension was built,Chhetri, a senior teacher iron, brought in on trucks when ready to provide room for at Pole Star English School in Hee Bermiok. the roads were good. another 50 or so students to “In today’s world, the Crossbeams to help stabilise the learn all year round. Thechildren need English to structure would be made of local celebrations could begin. gain skills.” Students timber, screwed and lashed “We now get students ashave gone to be doctors, together. After arriving in Sikkim young as four,” says Limboo engineers and more. thanks to Jet Airways and Help proudly. “Their parents are Tourism, the scouts hammered, farmers, delivery workers, sawed, drilled and nailed for carpenters and labourers.” nine days. And the pupils keep coming. “We had to work with what The Pole Star teachers don’t do we had,” remembers Chan. it for the money; they earn a lot “When the electric drill stopped less than their government working, we used a hand drill. It school counterparts. “We do it 10
  11. 11. with passion,” says teacher “Even some of the teachers ON THE EDGEKabita Chhetri, who has an at government schools sendMBA as well as a second their children here!” smilesteaching degree. Limboo. The finished extension was Thanks to the newsolid enough to use all year classrooms, when the rainsround, and was voted a big come, the students can nowsuccess. Students have gone carry on learning. Althoughon from this remote community none of them are actually braveschool to be doctors, engin- enough to say if year-roundeers and other professionals, homework is a change for theso they must be doing it right. better.  Sikkim has amazingly colourful About as far north as temples and you can get (see map) monasteries - and Sikkim sits wedged lush fields between China, Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal. It is reached by some very rough roads across a narrow 40km wide sliver of land. 11
  12. 12. Ethical A MAN FOR Dave Williams was a successful businessman in the United States when he took a trip to Thailand, 19 years ago. His visit made ALL REASONS him realise there was much more to life than climbing the corporate ladder. by Jeremy Torr“I admit it, I am a bit choosy about who I take ...” DAVE WILLIAMS is a lifelong naturalist and around the south-west of Thailand, and secondlyanimal lover, dedicated paddler, serious beard- - making sure that what he does with his Paddlewearer and very genuine bloke. Asia company offers minimal damage to our precious world. He wasn’t always that way. Back in the earlynineties he was a model executive in an Shanks’s Ponyestablished American company. “I was in middle “Just being here impacts the environment,”management, living the American dream. I was Williams admits. But he makes sure whatever heworking for my paycheck every week, and the is offering, by water or land, involves thefuture was all planned out,” he absolute minimum of motor transport.remembers. Then he took a trip to Just Customers walk, hike, canoe orThailand, to check out the paddling and being here mountainbike to wherever they are goingbirdwatching scenes and it all changed. impacts the to, unless it is absolutely necessary to environment use a bus or plane. “Now, I am following what I realised ismy dream,” he says. “It’s no longer about His life is now completely dedicated tothe money.” What it is about is two things, says offering holidays to regular and repeat customers,Williams: offering seriously well organized and and to putting together qualifying courses forrewarding canoe, rock-climbing and trekking trips outward-bound style award programmes for 12
  13. 13. schools and groups from all over destinations but still use asAsia. Williams admits he is a bitchoosy about who he takes. He many cars and buses,” he says. OFF TRACKsays he doesn’t want anybody Williams says this makes italong who doesn’t have the harder work for the really green,same values as he and his team little guys like him but he carriesof guides. on doing the same thing anyway. “We also do bird-watching andNo Sourpusses! long-trail hiking, and for those As he succinctly puts it: “one you really have to know yoursourpuss can spoil it for all the country. It’s so easy to get lostothers.” This approach has that you have to go back againensured that for the last 12 years and again to research the reallyhe has built up his business green routes that don’t do anysteadily, and now has a staff of damage,” he says. “One of theseven offering his special brand trips we offer is a 340km coastof eco-tourism. Despite the fact to coast walk across Thailand.he doesn’t really like the phrase. You won’t find that on any other tour operator’s itineraries!” “Everybody today seems tobe touting themselves as an eco Old Handtourism company. But the big Williams started paddling inguys just do the same as before, 1978, and has plenty ofinternal combustion assistance experience in both very seriousincluded. They just visit “green” whitewater and sea kayaking. He has paddled most of the Corporate climber? More like eco executive! Dave, his chief guide Nipon and wife Moo are the key people in Paddle Asia. They have built up a formiddable reputation for eco friendly tours that take visitors where they want to go - without damaging or impacting the locale or the people there. 13
  14. 14. dangerous rivers in Colorado, mountainbike trails,and almost 370 kilometres of the rock climbing andGrand Canyon. Closer to home, archery. “I just likehe has paddled extensively in what this area has toThailand and in the rivers of offer,” he says. ALaos. lifelong student of natural history, His current right hand man ornithology, biology,(and woman) are guide Nipon botany,and wife Moo, who both help in paleontology, andthe business. “Nipon is a great Eastern Philosophy,guy and so good with the wide he loves therange of people and skills we outdoors – butget,” says Williams. Nipon, from realises how fragile itPhatthalung province, has a in tourism fromRatchapat University and the “We at Paddletypical warm Thai approach to Asia are small bypeople. design,” he says. “This minimises ourMulti-skilled impact, and also has “Nipon is an intelligent and the advantage weknowledgeable guide who can adjust and he laughs. But now, he says, hedramatically improved our bounce back if customer is doing it as right as he can,understanding of the culture, numbers change.” In his early with the environment firmly inwildlife and locations,” enthused days in Thailand, Williams mind at all customer. worked for a few other outdoor tour operators, and says that “I do it this way because it’s He still keeps up with the was a valuable learning my life,” he adds. “I am followingother sports he offers visitors in experience. “I learned how not my dream, so we can all feelthe area, riding hardcore to do it, back in the early days,” good about what we do.”  14
  15. 15. Paddle Asia Cont.Bikes are the best way to explore the country,especially in places like Sukhothai in Thailand 15
  16. 16. AdventureTIMOR TIMES Travelling to less developed places is something great to talk about when you get home - and a chance to help people who need your smiles as much as your dollars. 2012: Ten years of By Jeremy Torr independence FLYING TO Timor Leste is passport to enter the easy. Just jump on a plane at visa details - by hand - Changi. It’s a four-hour flight to into a great big book. No Nicolau Lobato Airport - but computers here; no electronic when you arrive it’s like you tickets or passport scanners. have been traveling in time. Timor Leste is still a very under-developed country, and “Bon dia’” says the official, this is where much of its charm smiling broadly. He takes my lies. Admittedly Dili, the 16
  17. 17. capital, has its share of street Once through the villages, swam. The national animal is notchaos with hooting mopeds, the cliffs at Ponta Hatolana Rein the crocodile for vendors, the occasional are simply stunning. The roadinternet café, and chunky 4WDs. clings to the edge some 250 Next day we took a trip into metres above tiny white sand the hills, to a tiny village near But venture just a few beaches as the cliffs, covered in Letefoho where a new schoolkilometers up or down the coast green tropical plants and huge was being opened. The roadto Manatuto or Liquica, or head white gum trees, plunge into the there can be described as ainland up into the mountains pure blue sea. The rock faces challenge, you definitely need atowards Maubisse and the glowed red, black, and white 4WD. Winding up across thechange is dramatic. As Jose with marble in the afternoon sun, mountains we had wonderfulRamos-Horta, president of fit for a scene from the next views out over Dili to the sea,Timor Leste, said to us, “the James Bond movie – but without and glimpses of the scores ofPortuguese were here for 400 a soul in sight. tiny hamlets that seem to hideyears, and they did basically behind every curve of the roadnothing for us.” Head for the Hills and hilltop. We passed by Dollar BeachLand that Time Forgot (it’s called that because the Apparently the local people All they left when they went locals used to charge a dollar to shunned the more open landwas their language, and a deep drive onto it) and stopped in the nearer the sea and preferred toabiding Roman Catholic faith.No scenery-spoiling motorways,no river dams, no railways,almost nothing apart from a fewcolonial buildings, an oddchurch or two and the remainsof an old fort. All of which leftthe countryside as untouched bymodern progress as anywhere inthe world. “We are a poorcountry, but we are proud of itand want to welcome peoplehere,” added the president. “This,” said our guide thenext day, “is some of the moststunning scenery.” He was right. Timorese village women wait for a festival to beginWe had driven about fortyminutes out of Dili, east along tiny hamlet of Berhedan for local live in the hills where it wasthe coast road past the huge honey, sold in old rum bottles harder for marauding tribes tostatue of Christ the Redeemer yet tasting of native mount surprise attacks.on its crag at Ponta Fatossidi flowers. Every place we Whatever the reason,(Cape Fatucama), through tiny passed people waved Everywhere we this fondness for hill-thatched-hut villages with and smiled – but they went, people dwelling hasrunning kids and groups of did caution us to be waved and preserved a uniquefishermen sitting playing cards. careful where we smiled way of life. Tiny 17
  18. 18. fenced plots of cassava and no erosion of the natural corn sit next to rushing streams landscape. EAST LAND and thatched storage barns. Dogs and chickens wander With none of the modern about on single-file paths fixtures we’re used to, the between rice patches. Men and country is pristine in the purest women in locally woven turbans sense of the word. Sure there is herd the local cow between dirt, but it is pristine dirt. There smoky huts. All this makes are leftovers from the trekking and walking in this area Portuguese colonial era that hint excellent, but check your at more genteel times, but the accommodation options first – majority of towns are still hotels are thin on the ground. unspoilt, with local markets and a variety of clothing and Let the Dancing Begin headgear that will astound. Once the ceremony to open the school started, the local Tribal elders with turbans orchestra – a group of older and silver decorations mingle women with gongs – led the with baseball-capped festivities. They were joined by youngsters in trousers. All seem village elders in ornate feather to get along, and if there is a and silver headdresses – and chance for a get-together and some very cool shades. celebration, everyone Everybody joined in, laughing, congregates to stomp out the dancing, stamping to the music, traditional dances to the sound eating pig livers, drinking strong of a woman-driven gongIn this new nation in the local coffee and relishing super- orchestra. Far East, there are no sweet milky puddings. motorways, no river Orchestra Tedia dams, no railways, The celebrations went on for “I have to admit the noise almost nothing apart hours – but there was so much gets a bit tedious after a while,” from a few colonial of interest it was never tiring. A says one local resident. “I’d lovebuildings, an odd church Singaporean policeman, on local them to change the tune a bit.” and the remains of a duty with the UN, stated the Nevertheless, to a visitor the fort. Which means the obvious: “It is very different from sounds are mesmeric, and the countryside is as Singapore.” About as different sight of a team of senior women untouched by modern as you can get. beating their brass gongs in progress as anywhere. If you want to see something uncannily dissonant time is even more different, take a day highly memorable. Most off, head up or down the coast celebrations are accompanied or follow the twisting trails into by lots of local coffee, aromatic the hills, where Timor offers an and very mellow; and food can unparalleled visitor experience. be anything from spicy mixes of The same history that has given cabbage, spinach and onions, to locals a very basic way of life a slab of pig’s liver slathered in means there has been virtually rich gravy. Yummy. 18
  19. 19. Tribal elders with turbans and silver decorations mingle with baseball- capped youngsters. All seem to get along. At special occasions, everyone gathers to stomp out traditional dances.There are over 240 species of bird, some 30 of which are unique to Timor. And for dessert, sweet mango and coconutmilk pudding with a wild banana or two to top itoff. Perfect. If immersing yourself in local life doesn’t grabyou, then take a hike into the remote areas.Nature spotters will drool over wildlife like thereticulated python (up to 8 metres long) and over240 species of bird, some 30 of which are uniqueto Timor. It sure beats looking at casinos.Safe as Houses Before we left Timor Leste, I thanked our guideand asked him what he wanted me to tell ourreaders. “Please tell your readers Timor Leste is asafe and friendly place to visit,” said thepresident. He didn’t need to say that: It is boththose and more. Timor Leste is a stunning destination, with anew experience around almost every corner, afriendliness that borders on the naive and unspoiltplaces to discover in the lowlands, the uplandsand the hard-to-get-to places in between. Andthanks to all those old unloved Portuguese roads, Delicious coffee comes right off the bushes in thethere are plenty of those still.  highlands of Timor Leste 19
  20. 20. WHAT’S ONWelcome to the best wheel chair and artificial limb contestants to show their might Anapurna 100and greenest guide among the ancient ruins. 1 Jan, 6 Apr Nepalaround for where to and what to do This is Nepal’s original ultra-over the next few Gaia Reef trail race with 50km, 70km and 100km courses. For the fit andmonths. Restoration adventurous, this competition 10-15 Dec takes runners through moun- Gili Trawangan, tains, forests and villages. Entry Indonesia fees go towards rewardingAngkor Wat Bike Nepali runners. If you thinkRace & Ride the chances of you waking3 Dec up on New Year’s Day with aSiem Reap, Cambodia hangover are high, then plan for the Annapurna Mandala What better way to relive the Trail on 6 April instead. There,ancient Angkor civilization days 12 stages will see runnersthan to pedal a bike round the passing through Tibet, by theruins? For leisure or ancient walled city of Locompetition, bikers can soak in Mantling and the peaks of theSiem Reap’s iconic backdrops mighty Himalayas.with jungles, rice paddies, anapurna100.combuffaloes and elephants. VillageFocus’ projects that help localCambodians stand to gain from Sinulogyour sweat! 14,15 Jan If that’s not enough, the Cebu, Philippinespopular Angkor Wat Build new coral reefs! Using the Biorock process, this Why not join in the month-International Half Marathon restorative act will provide long fiesta celebration in Cebu intakes place the next day (4December) in front of Angkor shelter for fish, promote marineWat and includes segments for biodiversity and help prevent beach erosion around Gili Trawangan, an idyllic island of Indonesia. Organiser Gaia Discovery welcomes scuba divers who are keen on giving nature a helping hand. honour of Santo Nino or the Baby Christ with religious 20
  21. 21. WHAT’S ON!processions reaching a high misfortunes before ushering in apoint in the third week on a Spirit Festival sparkling clean new year.Saturday followed by a grand 28 Mar -1 Apr Songkran is celebrated withstreet parade the next day? Ubud, Bali temple rituals throughoutBask in the revelry of the festive Thailand (where you candances and fireworks. The give alms) and fullSinulog buzz is not to be processions in Chiang Mai.missed so head on to Cebu! Head to Kao San Road or Silom for fun and feuds with water guns! thailandlife.comThaipusam7 FebSingapore, Malaysia, Rock and RootsIndia, Sri Lanka, An uplifting festival of yoga, 30, 31 MarMaldives dance and music designed for Singapore social and ecological harmony. Watch the traditional kavadi In its sixth year, the Bali Spirit In its third year, Timbre is aboutattam dance performed by Festival will see more inter- to surprise fans with more national acts like Kissmet music greats to echo previous from India and the UK yearsʼ luminaries: Bob Dylan, (pictured here) to add to John Legend, Bouna Vista sacred world music from Social Club... surf away for many cultures. 2012 artiste announcement release! Songkran And donʼt forget - if you Apr 13 -15 have an event, let us know: ThailandHindu devotees during their You canceremonial worship complete have it wet andwith heavy kavadis or yokes that wild, butbear their burdens. These can traditionallybe in the form of milk pots or during thechariots with flesh-piercing Thai’s new year,skewers. The range of body the act of waterpiercing will astonish you and pouring on theoffers the chance to capture head is gentlesome unrepeatable photos. and pure to wash away all 21
  22. 22. DO’S & DONT’S Here’s how we can get the best out of our selfish sojourns without causing disturbance and disruption to the environment. And maximizing opportunities to enrich other people’s lives. By Mallika Naguran Be an Goodie Baggie eco Thought about packing just about enough or less rather than squeezing every possible thing in your traveller! bulging luggage? Consider buying those extra clothes needed, especially tees and toiletries at the travel destination itself. Most places have clothes especially tees; Bali and Thailand in particular have wonderful soaps. Your tourist dollar boosts local trade and you get new outfits. However, pack a few used clothes, shoes or trinkets that are still nifty but no longer your favourite. You can give them away to the poor or leave them behind in the hotel rooms for the staff to use or distribute. Take some gifts with you to give away random by consulting travel agents or browsing the web for advice. Ask your friends to help contribute too. Sometimes, little things count. Here’s a useful list to remember: Burma – ballpoint pens (biro) for school kids. They need these to go to school. India – clothes for children, men 22
  23. 23. and women. Indonesia - clothes for children, If you intend to give, email or snail mail themen and women. Vietnam – children’s picture subject a photo printout, that is wonderful.books, battery-operated CD players. Thailand – Remember to keep your promise though tokids picture books, portable CD players. prevent them from being sorely disappointed orCambodia - mosquito nets, books. worse, disillusioned with trigger-happy and self- seeking tourists.  Trippy trappy Shoppa Shocka Incorporate a visitto a village or a Bargain hunters listen up. There are just two words for you - stop it! I hear stories of richhome, better still,arrange for tourists boasting of the huge reductions gottenhomestays as part of by tough bargaining in poor countries.your getaway. You Remember, haggling for a modest discount islearn so much more fine but hammering downof the local culture bymingling with real Dongria Khondh to cost price is community, India indecent. Thatpeople, not just trainedtourist operators. extra profit margin Pick up a few local made through your purchasephrases, write them down and build them upalong the way with your own dedicated may just go a longlanguage notebook. Also don’t hesitate to teach way to putting onethe residents some words and phrases of your decent food onown lingo, helping to strengthen their language the table a day or providing warm Fabrics from Kokskills and confidence in dealing with tourists. shoes on kids in blistery Kong Village, ThailandWrite them down and give them the paper ofwords and phrases for them to keep. winter – things we often Take time to stop and chat with people on take for granted.the street. Share a smile, a joke or invite themfor a cuppa with you. No reason to behave like a Don’t Do Endangeredtourist just because you are one! When visiting fairs, markets, street shops, make it a point to buy something for yourself orPhoto motto your loved one. It’s great to have a souvenir and Ask permission before you snap a shot of at the same time, you stimulate more localpeople or property, and thank people after. If trade. Consider getting Christmas or birthdayyou have a digital camera, show them the shot gifts for others. Buying in advance is cheapertaken. Don’t be surprised if they are amazed by anyway – you won’t burn a huge hole in yourthe image of themselves as they may not have pocket come December with mass purchases income across a digital camera before. super fancy malls. Better still, you will receive In some cities (like Hanoi and ethnic minority compliments on your unique and exotic finds.villages in Vietnam), you may be asked for And remember, always refrain from purchasingmoney in exchange of photo taken and this you products made from prohibited, endangered ormay find out, rather unpleasantly, even after near extinct flora and fauna. Say no and ifseeking consent. No harm tipping or buying the possible, explain the reason to the tradesman,local handicraft to show your gratitude – it’s who is probably unaware of the environmentaldefinitely quid pro quo! threats caused by his actions.  23
  24. 24. BORNEO Destination Kelabit Highlands in Bario bring you closer to nature and a bunch of rather interesting folks. Gunver Bennekou reports. Stephen from Sarawak and road or river transportation, so it Danish Tine once had a dream. is very peaceful. Around 1000 Now that dream has been people live there, mainly Kelabits Stephen and Tine fulfilled with the establishment of and Penans. The village is rather Jungle Blues Dream in the Ulung widespread as there are paddy Palang longhouse in Bario, a fields in between the longhouses village in the Kelabit Highlands and surrounded by forests. of northeast Sarawak, close to Trekking into the woods brings the Kalimantan border. The Bario on delightful discoveries and so plateau is remote and without does walking to remote villages.Maecenas aliquam maecenas Sociis mauris in integer, Idyllic a dolor netus non dui settings aliquet, sagittis felis The Penans are a sodales, dolor sociis around Bariocharming loteu libero mauris, vel that make longhouse Borneo even more cras. Interdum at. Eget habitasse elementum est, ipsum endearing.class. purus pede 24
  25. 25. While roaming, you might bump into old the vegetables are picked from the forest. MyKelabits with elongated ears, or come across favorite dishes are wild ginger flower salad andPenans carrying wild sago from the forests. The soup made of wild spinach – very delicious.village also has a touch ofmodernisation - an internet café andsome cars, although there are no Fresh Meat LOCAL FOOD The meat is local too, either frompaved roads. COOKED ON AN OPEN FIRE. the forest such as wild boar or The homestay is situated in VERY LITTLE USE OF FOSSIL deer, which can be roasted ora new Kelabit longhouse made FUEL.  AND A GREAT smoked. The fishpond deliversof Agathis, a local wood, while fresh fish.  The pineapples from CONNECTION WITH THEpoles are made of ironwood, Bario are particularly sweet and LOCAL COMMUNITYtransported from Miri or Marudi. the local fried bananas areThe longhouse is situated on top of mouthwatering. The food is usuallya hill so from the balcony you can enjoy a prepared at the open fireplace in thewide-angled view of the beautiful paddy fields longhouse. A sape, a local musical instrument,and surrounding mountains. Moreover, you get sits in the front room, ready for action. Your hostthe most wonderful food in this place. The main Stephen is a fine sape player, and ready todish is rice, which is a bonus as the fragrant serenade his guests. The walls in the rooms areBario rice is famous throughout Sarawak. decorated with local material and Stephens’ own Tine and Stephen have their own paddy fields artwork too. The art gallery doubles as the livingwhich mean the rice can’t get any fresher. Even room and exhibition area. 25
  26. 26. The neighbour to Tine and large carbon footprint is your tripStephen’s little slice of heaven to Bario. The only possible wayis the headman of the to go there is with a flight fromlonghouse. On a fine evening, Miri.there is a possibility you’ll be invery good company with all Twice a day MASwingsthese artistic and musically- sends a little Twin Otter planeinclined neighbours! over the highlands to Bario where a marvelous sight of theDream Time rainforest awaits until your Staying in Jungle Blues descent into Kelabit’s charmingDream is really eco-travelling at highland enclave. its best.  It offers a house mademostly of localmaterials. Localfood cooked onopen fire. Very littleuse of fossil fuel.  Add to that agreat connectionwith the localcommunity andculture. All theboxes are tickedfor you. The only This is eco- travelling at its very best Simple life, music played from the traditional sape, a stroll along rolling padi fields... A Bario longhouse stay can offer all these and more, leaving lasting impressions on you and your companions well after you leave. 26
  28. 28. BENEATH Indonesia’s seas. At first, you dip below the flat surface and it seems that there is nothing there. But then a trained eye spots what looks like a sprig of weed and, on closer inspection, the weed turns out to be a very rare and exotic Ambon Scorpion BALI fish, with its partner lying perfectly still only centimetres Scuba away. As you approach they Diving both start to weave and bob in unison, mimicking the way seaweed moves on a tide. Small things matter A few metres further on, you lift a patch of weed to reveal a Text & photos by Simon Pridmore baby hairy frogfish hiding beneath and a small white mark Puri Jati diving in Bali is on the sand turns out to be what is commonly termed another baby frogfish relying on “muck.” The calm bay, its unusual colouring rather than particularly around the mouth of camouflage to protect it. a small river, is a haven for Every coconut shell and octopuses and a nursery for the discarded bottle or jars turn out more unusual creatures found in to be the residence of an Creatures of the seaneed somewhere to hide from the big, bad andugly. Sometimes, these hideouts can be rather surprising. Like a rusty A nursery forcan, glass bottle or a toy unusual car! Some trash creaturesinevitably becomes part of the local habitat. 28
  29. 29. octopus and they can often be flying gurnards and many kindsseen scuttling across the sand of file fish and if you look closelyclutching construction materials you can find ghost pipefishto improve their homes. hanging in the fronds of fernsCollapsible juice bags make that decorate the slope like puffyuseful front doors, it seems. white clouds. These are theWhen not busy collecting, they home too of unusual yellow,bury themselves and their white and black nudibranchs. Muck diving... What a wonderland of sorts!homes deep in the sand. A pileof debris in a pit is a common Curb your environmentalindicator that here is the lair of instincts and resist the urge toan octopus. pick up any trash you see lying on the bottom. It is not only the The site slopes out gently octopus that needs to findalong way from the shore until creative housing solutions onyou reach a steeper section, the featureless sand. A sheet ofwhich takes you down to 30 m plastic provides protection from(100 ft) and more. The slope is predators and a tin can makes agood for spotting fingered romantic pied-a-terre for a pairdragonets, inimicus devilfish, of blennies!  Leave it all behind... PADI and SSI Dive Centre    fun dives     beautiful bungalows    families welcome     beach volleyball court    no cars or motorbikes professional and friendly staff 29
  30. 30. PUERTO Photographers - pack wide-angle lens when on a trip to Puerto Galera. With visibilityGALERA stretching to 50m on good days and swaying sea fans and colourful soft corals, getting a good panoramic shot isn’t too hard.Utterly Amazing GaleraBy Mallika Naguran Puerto Galera is just one of the 7,107 islands drenchedin the sun that offer top scuba diving and land-basedattractions. There are about 3,000 marine species alone in thisSouthern spot, but don’t hold your breath for the big stuff.Sweetlips, humphead parrots, barracudas, jacks and pufferscan be found, along with healthy coral cover. Puerto Galera, a reservation area under the OpenMan and Biosphere Program of the UNESCO, is water to techlocated in the Mindoro province of the diving in PuertoPhilippines, about a three-hour drive south from GaleraManila City to Batangas Port, and an hour’s boatride from there to El Galleon jetty. Asia Divers is aPADI 5 Star Career Development Center (CDC) that wasfounded in 1987 by Allan Nash who heads up Asia Divers andEl Galleon Beach Resort, both located next to each other.There are more than 30 dive sites within reach by boat in 15 30
  31. 31. minutes, and you can dive five times a day if At nearly 21m depth you come across ayou like, including a dusk or night dive. Easy cave and then another at 27m depth; betweenand nice, perfect for Open Water divers at clear those, you sweep past a seabed covered with18m depth. Take a boat out and dive at about lovely soft and hard corals that’s home to9m depth and fin towards coral crusted surgeonfish, fusiliers, cuttlefish and more. Theboulders standing about 4m high. They offer variety of coral cover is astounding with largepretty views until you reach a hole that’s wide table corals, bommies, and soft corals, evenenough for just one to swim through at a time. lacy gorgonians. Take with you a magnifying glass if you don’t have a trained eye, or you As you emerge from the other side, a hard might miss the tiny pygmy seahorse on thecoral garden greets you where you may chance yellow fan coral.upon yapping moray eels, puffer, porcupine fishand even a 3-metre long banded sea snake. Verde Island Now the boat tide to Verde Island takesThe Canyons about 45 minutes. Gear up at leisure and drop Now this is a tricky one depending on how off on the east side of the island where thethe tides flow and where the currents dictate. pinnacles peep above the water surface. HereDiving at 28-30m depth you come across three you can go deep, but don’t get carried away bybeautiful walls set apart by plunging ravines. the amazing lofty formations covered withCurrents can be pretty swift so grabbing on to a myriads of sponges, crinoids and corals. Forrock while ogling at the extra large sweetlips certain do not get swept away by theand snappers isn’t a bad idea. You end the dive outrageous currents. Lots of pelagics, jacks,by posing next to a relic – a nearly 2m big barracudas, and corals.anchor camouflaged by coral that once served Welcome to nature’s playground! a proud Spanish Galleon well. 31
  32. 32. KADAYAWAN Culture Kadayawan Indigenous Festival Celebrates a Rainbow of Cultures By Henrylito D.Tacio Kadayawan is a festival of floats, street-dancing festivals. It honors Davao’s competitions and exhibits of artistic, cultural and historical island’s tourism products and heritage, its past personified by services. the ancestral lumads, its people The two big parades of the as they celebrate on the streets. festival are often held during You’ll find the floral industry’s weekends.  The street dancing, representatives parading in full called Indak-Indak sa regalia in thanksgiving for the Kadalanan, is done on Saturday blessings granted on the city. while the floral float parade falls The celebration has three on Sunday. aspects: tribal, industrial, arts The floral float parade and entertainment.  Pamulak Kadayawan is a Commemorated every third spectacular finale – patterned week of August, it is a week- after the Pasadena Parade of long celebration with floral Roses in the United States.  Remembering theancestral people - lumads - as youths take to the streets in celebration ofDavao’s greatest festival. Head down to MindanaoProvince to be infected by the joy of this season. 32
  34. 34. HITESHExpert“LET’S STOP MAKING THE ENVIRONMENT A VICTIM ...” One person who has Mehta has put together an become a victim with the rise ofinitiated change and is architectural compendium of 36 mass tourism andinfluencing the tourism industry exemplary ecolodges from accompanying onslaught of ill-for the better – through around the world that serve as managed hotels, resorts andecology-friendly design builder’s inspiration and lodges. Mehta quit his job toappreciation is Hitesh S Mehta, tourism’s saving grace. spend 30 months on the roadan architect, landscape travelling to 46 countries toarchitect and environmental Called Authentic Ecolodges, research and develop materialsplanner. He is the president of it supports the idea that the for his book - and more eco-HM Design based in Florida, environment should never friendly design theories. 34
  35. 35. The book culminatesMehta’s decade-long research Authentic Ecolodges tracks down environmentally PRINCIPLESand interviews with architects, responsible and Eleven basic principles foreco-consultants, developers, aesthetically beautifuloperators, indigenous ecolodges in far and exotic ecolodges were set out incommunities and stakeholders locations. After visiting and a 1999 paper. These are:in the ecotourism industry, inspecting 48 lodgeswhere he came up with a personally, Mehta excluded Help in the conservation ofcriteria system to determine 8 that did not meet the set the surrounding flora andecolodges. criteria made consistent fauna throughout. Four properties Have minimal impact on the “Ecotourism, in my opinion, were omitted due to page natural surroundings during constructionis any tourism in nature-based constraint. The booklocations that practices the features 36 diverse Fit into its specific physical and cultural contextsthree main principles of ecolodges from budget to through careful attention toprotection of nature; benefits luxury status with another 8 form, landscaping and colour, as well as the use ofto local people and offering of ecolodges described in “on vernacular architectureinterpretive programs,” says the drawing boards” Use alternative, sustainableMehta. Ecolodges, a growing chapter. means of water acquisitiontrend in accommodations, and reduce watermust embrace these three consumption Best of the Bestprinciples plus any other two Provide for careful handling Featured ecolodges are and disposal of solid wasteout of the eight other grouped according to twelveprinciples, as Meet its energy needs themes that through passive design anddefined by include renewable energy sourcesMehta’s sustainable Use traditional buildingresearch paper building technology and materialsin 1999.  wherever possible and materials, combines these with their creative modern counterparts forA Lodge too Far design, greater sustainability In short, indigenous Endeavour to work togetherecolodges are construction with the local community and involve them in the“low-impact, techniques, initial planning stagesnature-based art as Offer interpretive programsaccommodations of two to architecture, innovative to educate both its employeesseventy-five rooms that technology, biodiversity for and tourists about theprotect the surrounding conservation, and more. surrounding natural andenvironment; benefit the local Page after page, beautiful cultural environmentscommunity; offer tourists an illustrations by Matthewinterpretive and interactive Contribute to sustainable Lewis tag each conceptual local development throughparticipatory experience; element accompanied by education programs andprovide a spiritual communion photographic images taken researchwith nature and culture and are by the author himself. Thedesigned, constructed and lodges are assessed and Use environmentally friendlyoperated in an environmentally reviewed by the author for sewage treatment systemsand socially sensitive manner." their architectural relevance, 35
  36. 36. impact on the environment, sustainable operations(financially as well), and tourism appeal. “The threemain reasons I wanted to do this book was to raisethe bar in the ecolodge industry, increaseawareness amongst travellers of today and add tothe body of work for professionals and academicsalike,” said Mehta.Special Places “It is my hope that community-owned andoperated ecolodges continue to grow; that there willbe public and private partnerships for owning andrunning these special places,” he said.  Hitesh Mehta is the longest serving board member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and the author of International Ecolodge Guidelines. He was also a former captain of Kenyan cricket team. Crosswaters Ecolodge nestled in the Nankunshan Reserve of Guangdong, China 36
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  38. 38. Resort DOWN AT THE FARM By Mallika NaguranTake a break from theordinary and getHEALTHY in the So good it has won several cuisinePhilippines awards. But health is not At The Farm resort & limited to the physical.wellness centre in the “Holistic involves theBatangas province of the healing of the mind,Philippines, western medicine body and spirit,” sayscomplements age-old Asian Michael Di Lonardo,practices such as Ayurveda, general manager of Detox programs arean ancient healing movement The Farm. “In treating the prescribed after consulting theoriginating from India.  physical body, you touch the in-house doctor, and depending mental and spiritual. That’s the on the guests condition, this A team of doctors and basis of holistic care.” can include nutritionalnurses administer microscopy, colon hydrotherapy,personalised programs to The Farm sees varied wheatgrass infusion therapy,guests with specific health guests, from weekend trippers Digital Meridian Diagnosticissues that include vegan food reveling in the delectable vegan System (DMS), kidney cleansing,supplement like wheat grass cuisine to health sufferers. liver cleansing, body salt bathshots, exercise likes brisk Guests can book up to and also massages. walk and yoga, meditation, participate in the numerousand cleansing treatment of the health and fitness programs Drinking virgin coconut oilkidney, liver and gut. Vegan including yoga and invigorating (VCO) is also recommended as afood grown organically is nature walks in the grounds of medical boost. According to theserved at The Farm, mostly the estate. doctors, VCO cleanses from theraw and deliciously prepared. Virgin Coconut Oil has all these goodness. Take been taken as a health two tablespoons a day to antidote since time keep common ailments at immemorial because of bay, keep your immune its anti-microbial, anti- system working at peak fungal and anti-bacterial fitness - and because it properties. Cold-pressed tastes good too! virgin coconut oil retains 38
  39. 39. mouth to the anus, killingparasites, viruses, fungi andbacteria. At The Farm, coconut oil isused in the manufacture ofsoaps, and the shell of the fruitis used as a bowl with whichdelicious home-made granolaand fruit is served. Massagesare to optimize the flow of chito the body and harmonize it.  Chi in Chinese medicine orprana in Indian medicaltraditions refer to life forcewithin us beyond the physical.It is to re-connect to the “inneressence” and develop theability to obtain healing energies foods to boost the body’s at The Farm, but with new-foundthrough nature. Staff at The immune system. Guests return wisdom of how to eat right andFarm will share the health home not just with memories of live healthier. benefits of eating raw health feeling better after having stayed Peacocks, ducks, age-old trees help with meditation while vegetables grow naturally without chemicals to feed guests with wholesome vegan foods 39
  40. 40. Resort KRI, RAJA AMPAT by Mallika Naguran Eco can mean a number of things to different people. By Mallika Naguran The first thing that springs to mind for most is the preservation of nature. For Max Ammer, a pioneer dive operator in Raja Ampat and owner of Kri Eco Resort and Sorido Bay Resort at West Papua, Indonesia, people are at the heart of any ecology-related business. “To me, eco means workingbuilding of his Kri Eco Resort, even including with the local people to build a betterthe jetty that Max’s father helped to build, future,” says Ammer. Little of the coralaided by local talent. In fact, everything reef at Cape Kri (house reef) wasabout Kri Eco Resort is handmade: the destroyed or impacted upon with theSunset Lounge and its lazy deck chairs, thebamboo chalets, the coconut leaf and nutwall finishing and interior décor. Even the bricks are made by hand by thesenior local people on Max’s team. The firstthing that springs to mind for most is thepreservation of nature. For Max Ammer, apioneer dive operator in Raja Ampat andowner of Kri Eco Resort and Sorido BayResort at West Papua, Indonesia, people areat the heart of any ecology-related business.“To me, eco means working with the localpeople to build a better future,” says Ammer.“I want local people to make the money,”says Max, who reveals that he could havebuilt the resorts (including the higher-endConservation at Raja Ampat now is taking surveillance to keep an eye on illegalon new heights with an aerial monitoring activities on water and land. And the pilotprogramme sponsored by CI and various keeping vigil behind the wheels? Noneother NGOs. This involves a light aircraft other than Max Ammer! 40
  41. 41. Sorido Resort) and run theoperations quicker with moreexperienced staff from other partsof Indonesia, but he chose to trainand work with local Papuansinstead to help them out ofpoverty. Management staff andtrainers include a fewWesterners. Still, Max iscommitted to West Papua in moreways that one. He builds localtalent and skills in this remoteregion of Indonesia spanning fromtourism-related ventures to tradesfor livelihood to careers in scubadiving.Local Talent Max believes in employing cockatoos and hornbills. No involves the issue of an annuallocal talents, even as dive guides need for alarm clocks here. waterproof plastic entrance tagand masters; as such he invests At breakfast, we are startled to scuba divers. Part of the feeheavily in education and training, to see a pair of coconut crabs goes to community development,which includes English Language huddled around a bamboo pylon conservation and enforcement,conversational and writing skills. at the lounge ceiling. Hideous as covering marine areas and land-He did not wait for PADI to roll they are, they are also harmless based activities such as loggingout instructional workbooks in and rather immobile; apparently and mining.Indonesian language. Instead they lie on coconut trees andWestern teachers were hired to love cracking the solid fruits with In 2007 and 2008, prioritytranslate materials and concepts their rock-hard pincers. was given to the “Posyandu”from English to Bahasa system, which is a healthcareIndonesia, plus oral instruction provision for mothers and Fish Fantasiaand pictograms. “This is how children. Something that’s also I sat a respectable distanceWest Papuans with elementary close to Max’ heart: in the early away from them. The guesteducation get their advancement days, he had improved the water rooms at Kri Eco Resort are alsoin scuba diving careers at Kri and wells in Raja Ampat with perched above the waters, so aSorido Bay eco resorts,” explains chlorination and safety measures daily sight would be numerousMax. and created 13 new wells for the fish species flitting around the Every night, following dinner, local people.  pylons, seeking shelter from seaguests gaze at the juvenile currents or storms. Babybamboo sharks wading in the barracudas pursue parrotfish ofshallows just below the dining amazing variety, tagged along bylounge on stilts. In the morning, turtles.we are awakened by hystericalcackles from endemic birds such An important regulatoryas eclectis parrots, brush mechanism of the Raja Ampatturkeys, sulphur crested Marine Park is the Rp500,000 tourism entrance fee, which 41
  42. 42. Gaia Ad - Subscribe & Gaia IdeasWith Thanks to Our Distinguished Panel of Advisers...Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Laureate; Balgis Osman-Elasha, IPPCMember & 2007 Nobel Laureate; Thomas J. Goreau, President of Global Coral Reef Alliance & Coordinatorof UN Commission on Sustainable Development Partnership in New Technologies for Small IslandDeveloping States; James Canton, CEO of Institute of Global Futures; Kala Vairavamoorthy, UNESCO-IHE;Hitesh Mehta, eco-architect & TIES Board Member 42
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