Lindblad Expeditions (LEX) was founded in 1966 when Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first-ever citizen explorer expedition to Antarctica. LEX invented the category of expedition travel and has since been creating adventure cruise expeditions across the globe. Today, the founder’s son, Sven-Olof Lindblad, is now President and CEO of LEX and continues to champion the company’s commitment to conservation and responsible travel. Lindblad Expeditions has recently received recognition for its commitment to environmental stewardship and geographic education. The company is based out of New York, NY.
Sustainability in the Home Office
Lindblad has unparalleled executive support on sustainability initiatives and lead the sustainability movement by encouraging, teaching, and supporting fellow travel operators as they navigate their own sustainability journey. Lindblad’s CEO, Sven Lindblad, is well-known for making bold statements and targets around sustainability and engaging in a number of high-level speaking opportunities (i.e. UN Climate Week). In 2019, Sven created the first pillar focused on environmentally-responsible operations as a key part of the company’s conservation department. Lindblad also has a three-person sustainability team in place that liaises with each department across the company. This team has goals to “create a sustainability pledge for employees, vendors/contractors, and guests” as well as “establish an internal ‘Green Team’ at both of our offices.” In addition, this team produces a yearly Impact Report.
Lindblad has developed a series of policies around sustainability and ethics to hold suppliers to a certain level of standards. On every single Purchase Order issued by its supply chain team, the following statement is included:
‘Lindblad Expeditions’ sustainability mission is focused on limiting the purchase of single-use plastic. Our goal is to partner with like-minded vendors. Please understand that the use of plastic by a vendor may influence our decision to purchase an item or select them as a supplier. We ask that you join us in this effort and strive to offer alternatives and communicate available options.’ This is the most prolific document our supply chain team uses, so it reaches all of our suppliers, many on a weekly basis. We continue to expand and communicate this philosophy and mission whenever possible.”
Via the LEX-NG (National Geographic) fund, LEX supports a number of educational opportunities for children up to young adults in the local communities at destinations (i.e. Cambodia). Lindblad consistently demonstrates a strong commitment to traveler education, engaging and informing its own travelers through the following: an online carbon footprint calculator, on-trip presentations, and pre-departure materials (i.e. Buyer Aware Packets).
“An awareness of the threats of Over-Tourism has been part of the Lindblad family’s consciousness for many decades, and has always been part of our business. Lars Eric Lindblad, the late father of our current CEO and President, Sven-Olof Lindblad, helped establish the Galapagos National Park regulations that are still in place today to regulate tourism within the archipelago.”
Sustainability is holistic and encompasses all three pillars - Environmental, Socio-Cultural, and Economic. Here are highlights of Lindblad’s efforts in these three areas in sustainability in travel:
Lindblad is committed to carbon neutrality and is considered to be progressive when compared to the current industry landscape. Lindblad has exemplified its ability to set ambitious climate targets and has demonstrated tremendous initiative to achieve those targets. Its commitment to carbon reduction is backed by a robust, metrics-based understanding of its carbon footprint.
“In June 2019 we made the decision to become a 100% carbon neutral company, retroactive to January 1, 2019. We did some estimates of what our annual GHG emissions will be and will do our actual calculations for 2019 during Q1 of 2020 to ensure an accurate accounting of all 2019 activity. We anticipate offsetting between 50,000-60,000 MT for 2019...All projects are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to combating climate change and helping ensure that the planet is on pace to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as set forth by the Paris Agreement.”
To handling Waste, Lindblad recycles aboard its fleets to the fullest extent possible, based on location, and in locations where recycling is challenging, are working to institute better options.
Around Food, Lindblad provides most meals aboard the vessels. Sourcing these meals locally minimizes transportation emissions, enhances a greater understanding with and connection to the local cultures and communities, ensures the well-being of livestock, and confirms the safety of the food, among other things. Lindblad currently follows specified guidelines (i.e. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, WWF Seafood Guide, MSC). The survey also detailed that the majority of provisions are sourced with local purveyors.
Lindblad has initiatives within three Socio-Cultural Sustainability areas: Cultural Heritage, Frameworks and Local Relationship Management. LEX supports “living” cultural heritage through means of art, music, theater, dance, handicrafts, and local cuisine on trips.
“One example is the Lindblad Expeditions--National Geographic (LEX--NG) Artisan Fund, which we created in 2010 to support artisans communities worldwide as they developed their handcraft potential more effectively. In Galápagos, the LEX--NG Artisan Fund launched the Glass Adaptive Reuse Project and Paper to Pearls Project: two programs that help local artisans realize both an environmental and economic benefit through their crafts.”
“When planning new trips, we work closely with informants from the communities being visited to understand all angles of operating there, and how we can bring local experts and their knowledge to our guest”
Lindblad has existing initiatives across all three areas: Community Development, Local Employment and Support of Local Business. Via the LEX-NG fund, a skills-development program was launched for young adults seeking employment in the hospitality sector in Cambodia. Donations helped facilitate the ground-up construction of a training restaurant where students practice guest service, food industry, and housekeeping skills.
“Participants are then able to continue their studies at professional hotel schools or secure well-paying employment—reducing poverty in Kampong Cham province...The project mentioned supports educational opportunities for children through young adults in a rural Cambodian village, preparing them with skills and knowledge needed for sustainable livelihoods.”
Lindblad has created a number of extensive education opportunities, through both the LEX-NG (National Geographic) Fund and some Lindblad-only programs.
“For many years, we ran a program in Galapagos called “Teachers on Board” whereby local teachers from the inhabited islands were invited to join a full week’s expedition to see their home islands, many for the first time, and then bring their experiences back to their students. Our goal was to host every single teacher in the archipelago.”