31 MAR 2015: Celine Cousteau, the granddaughter of legendary marine conservationist, Jacques Cousteau, has made it her lifelong mission to document environmental projects and to shed light on causes she believes in. 

Call them her ‘walks,’ a word she uses to describe projects that she partners with which are simpatico to her own philosophies. Included in the long list of eco-conscious efforts is Ocean Inspiration (http://www.oceaninspiration.net/), an event on how ocean advocacy takes on different forms which was also her tribute to Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday in 2010.

The non-profit film company she founded, CauseCentric Productions has led the avid explorer and adventurer to walk the inner sanctum of the Amazon for an upcoming documentary now in production titled, “Tribes on the Edge” which chronicles the story of an indigenous tribe.

I caught up with the accomplished documentarian when she was in Toronto recently to promote her newest role: ambassador of the TreadRight Foundation.

TreadRight Foundation, which is the non-profit organization of The Travel Corporation, currently has over 35 projects worldwide from the Sea Turtle Conservancy to Sustainable Coastlines to name two.

Shannon Guihan, programme director with the TreadRight Foundation explained at a company media event that while the organization has been around since 2008 they realized someone needed to tell the TreadRight story.

“Celine Cousteau, our new TreadRight Ambassador will help us get the TreadRight story to the consumer to realize the work that happens because the travelling public are more and more interested in these types of sustainable tourism programs,” she explained.

Perfect timing

The timing was right.

Celine was previously involved in marine initiatives for other Travel Corporation projects with Contiki such as the Mesoamerican Leadership Programme in Mexico and a Shark Savers programme around the Galapagos Islands. She was also on the TreadRight Steering Committee to help vet the company’s other sustainable tourism projects.

“I choose to walk with people who take a responsibility in the travel industry and do something completely positive so when Shannon and the TreadRight team and The Travel Corporation and Contiki asked, ‘Do you wish to do this? I said, ‘Do you believe in this? Then yes, I will walk with you,” she said and added the TreadRight Ambassador role provides her with a mutual relationship towards a common goal.

“This is really empowering with the people I am working with and it’s empowering for the people we’re working for and these are the projects we’re supporting.”

The TreadRight Heritage and Wildlife Initiatives

The TreadRight Heritage Initiative has a commitment to the people and places in the travel company’s portfolio while the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative is dedicated to combating illegal wildlife trade.

The TreadRight Heritage Initiative through grants helps support select artisan enterprises that create and market handmade culturally significant products. The Wildlife Initiative, in partnership with WildAid, The Wilderness Foundation South Africa and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, is dedicated to helping stop wildlife crime like poaching. The TreadRight Wildlife Initiative also supports organizations combating the illegal wildlife trade.

Celine’s look at the future of travel

Aside from being the TreadRight Ambassador among her other roles, Celine lends her environmental expertise at various industry conferences. At a Super Yacht Design Symposium recently held in Austria for key influencers in the yachting business, Celine took part in a panel on environmental sustainability in the yachting industry, basically finding gentler ways.

“Will we stop people from building super yachts? No, of course not. They are going to continue to build and some people will continue to buy super yachts but wouldn’t you rather be sitting at the table to get them to do it better?” she notes and further explains how one day environmental regulations will come and when they do these shipping stakeholders would rather be involved in determining the process on what’s best.

“This is where I become an eco-realist. If your end goal is to impact less you want to be at the table with people who impact. It doesn’t mean they will stop impacting but to be human is to have an impact on our environment. Why not talk to the industry leaders?”

Celine on her grandfather’s celebrity

When she was a young girl, Celine embarked on another walk. This one was with her grandfather, Jacques Cousteau. One day he took her on a tour through his beloved Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, a marine science institution he oversaw as the director for over thirty years.

They walked the halls, his hand held hers. She smiles and recalls, “There are all these secret doors you could hide behind but before you could get to one, there was a mob of people surrounding him. I remember the moment he let go of my hand to sign an autograph.”

That was the moment she realized his fame. Now she’s ready to TreadRight.

For more information http://www.treadright.org/


Celine Cousteau and Friends
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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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