e-mail: info@projectcordillera.org

Sustainability Impacts | Part 1 | Our Approach

18th June 2016

As a social enterprise, an integral part of our business model is the commitment we make to sustaining the land and cultures where we travel. Over the next four blog posts, we will highlight our vision for sustainable travel, show how we work to accomplish that vision, and share more about our local partners.

We have fallen in love with the beautiful landscapes, people, and cultures of the places we travel. Our defining goals, as a team and as individuals, are to do everything in our power to protect, empower, and sustain those environments.

Project Cordillera’s vision for sustainable travel 

Project Cordillera sees social, environmental, and economic impacts (known as the “triple bottom line”) as equally important to achieving its purpose. In doing so, we take a holistic view to changing the relationship between humanity, the trade between us, and the environments that sustain us.

We find mountains and highlands inspirational places to explore and we know there is remarkable potential in the power of travel to promote and protect these places. We also know that mountain regions are incredibly diverse and that there is no single blueprint for effective and truly sustainable development.

Our approach is to support locally led solutions to local problems. We connect global knowledge to local understandings and practices of how ecosystems and human communities can and must exist together. We support these solutions in two ways:

  1. Strengthening our supply chain of local partnerships, and
  2. Reinvesting 50% of our proceeds in community-led projects that give back to the communities where we travel.

This approach means a shift in traditional development, one that is largely dominated by unsustainable and often interest-laden aid, as well as an out-dated narrative of “us” helping “them”. We believe we’re all in this together and that empowering local people, restoring dignity to the idea and practise of looking after each other and our surroundings, and promoting genuinely local solutions to local problems, all represent a new, more sustainable and more effective form of long term development.

Project Cordillera’s Theory of Change

To measure the impacts of our work and meet the needs of the mountain communities we work with, we use a combination of Theory of Change (TOC) and the Results-Based Accountability Model (aka Casey Results Model). The Casey Results Model encourages a holistic approach to measuring organisational impact. A Theory of Change is in essence a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused specifically on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing
middle” between what a program or change initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved.

A Theory of Change is guided by four principles: focus on the process, prioritize learning, be locally led, and think about the path to impacts. Ultimate social value is not achieved through a rigid set of rules or a map to follow but a compass that provides the general organizational direction. The Casey Results Model provides the actual components for how to identify the “missing middle” and distinguishes between inputs, outputs, and outcomes of organizations looking to achieve impact.

It is important to note that even with a strong theoretical foundation, we wish to respect local ways of being by adopting a non-interventionist and culturally sensitive partnership model that includes the local values as part of the overall pathway to change.

To learn more about our sustainability approach or to discuss a project with us, send a message to impacts@projectcordillera.org.

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