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Sea Going Green is a Dutch environmental consulting company that supports tourism organizations in achieving sustainable business models through the sustainable use of the natural environment where they operate. In doing so, the company contributes to reducing the impact of tourism on the marine habitat and, as a consequence, also helps to improve social-environmental conditions for the communities that live and depend on these areas. Located in Amsterdam, Sea Going Green currently develops projects in the Dutch Caribbean, Mediterranean area and South East Asia.
“A destination ultimately loses its profitability when it loses its beauty." This is the message from Sea Going Green founder and CEO Aleksandra Dragozet to leaders of tourism organizations, and it reflects the spirit and the business model of her company. With a strong international background, and having worked on projects with the World Wildlife Fund, Aleksandra holds a Bachelor Degree in Biomedical Anthropology, Biology & Environmental Biology from the University of Toronto, Canada and a Master degree in Oceanography & Limnology from the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. During our interview, at the Sea Going Green office in Amsterdam, she told me that the idea for the innovation occurred when she was looking for a job in some major consulting companies. As she explained, "All those consulting companies had a question in their application form asking the candidate, 'How would you promote sustainable tourism?' I realized at that moment that this [sustainable tourism] was an interesting niche market to work with." Not even completing the application process for the consulting organizations, Aleksandra launched Sea Going Green.
Sea Going Green provides consulting services in order to develop green transition strategies, alternative solutions, impact assessment, project implementation and evaluations for tourism companies operating in the marine environment, thus reducing the impact that tourism activities have on local communities. The company is actively contributing to four UN Sustainable Development Goals: UN SDG 14 – Life Bellow Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources; UN SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; UN SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and UN SDG 10 – Reduce inequality within and among countries, (managing projects that "encourage official development assistance in small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes"), (UN, 2018). The company is currently scaling up, dealing with projects in the Dutch Caribbean, the Mediterranean area and South East Asia.
The inspiration to launch the business is connected to the founder's personal values and experience. Aleksandra used to spend her summers on a sunny beach town along the coast of Croatia. She would witness, as she explained, "the water quality going down" with the increasing popularity of the city among tourists. Uncontrolled tourism created "tensions between the local population and the tourists," and this situation provided her with insight into the negative impact that her company helps to address and reduce.
Aleksandra wanted to give back to the community. She believes that "it is possible to achieve a balance between local communities, environment, and tourism." With her knowledge of oceanography and biology, she decided to focus on working in a field she knows best, and that is the inspiration behind Sea Going Green.
“It is amazing how many companies are willing to change and to enjoy the benefits related to this transformation," said Aleksandra, explaining that tourism organizations are inclined to change their business model when they realize the social, environmental, and financial opportunities that a sustainable operation can bring to them. Sea Going Green not only has a top-down approach, which analyses the corporate needs of the tourism organization, but also a button-up approach, which analyses and takes into consideration the needs and impact in local communities. Working on both fronts the company is able to provide a strategic solution suitable for all parts.
Because of Sea Going Green's know-how in the marine environment, the company specializes in this field. By doing so they are able to provide a distinct and more service-focused approach. That is the opposite from many consulting enterprises, which offer environmental services as one of many other services in a broad and diverse portfolio.
Another factor that makes Sea Going Green stand out among other environmental consulting companies is that it does not only provide projects and strategic planning, but also gives guidance and project implementation support to its customers. The company is capable of offering an entire project cycle, from conception until the post-implementation follow-up phase. As noted by Aleksandra, "We go one step further".
“The time to be sustainable is now”
Sea Going Green works in the B2B segment and is currently scaling up. It generates revenue by offering project-based consulting services to tourism organizations. The company also has a positive impact by promoting awareness about the "sustainable tourism" topic. “People accept my vision,” explains Aleksandra, giving as an example a recent visit she made to Sint Maarten in the Dutch Caribbean.
The visit was part of a matchmaking section promoted by The United Nations Development Programme in an effort to rebuild the island after the devastation caused by the hurricane season in 2017. Aleksandra, representing Sea Going Green, had the opportunity to be a speaker at one of the workshops where she addressed the topic of "how hotels can be built in a more sustainable way." After her presentation, she received positive feedback, including from a couple who planned to build a hotel on their property. They said would follow the sustainable guidelines Aleksandra had just explained.
The long-term benefit of Sea Going Green is to reduce the negative impact of tourism, and the company is considering expanding its activities to include services related to clean tech. The aim is to help to recycle marine plastic, which cannot be recycled in conventional ways due to the impact of salinization and the sun.
By reducing the environmental footprint of tourism activities, Sea Going Green improves the social conditions of the communities located in these areas. Even if some results take time to be assessed, the local population benefits from sustainable tourism and the maintenance of their natural environment, resulting in a win-win situation.
Besides the obvious positive impacts of these projects, the company is also engaged in actions that generate quick-win results, such as initiatives to reduce the damage caused to marine life by the anchoring of vessels. Another example explained by Aleksandra was the first beach cleaning promoted by Sea Going Green in Sint Maarten, where they were able to collect 100 kilos of trash in just 1 hour.
For the future, the company also intends to distribute surveys to local communities in different areas of the globe in order to identify how they are coping with the tourism industry, thus mapping and spotting opportunities to act.
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Aleksandra Dragozet, Founder and CEO
Sea Going Green is a Dutch environmental consulting company that supports tourism organizations in achieving sustainable business models through the sustainable use of the natural environment where they operate.