Segera Retreat was one of the finalists in the Destination Leadership category of the 2017 National Geographic World Legacy Awards hosted at ITB Berlin.
“Segera Retreat, a high-end ecolodge in Laikipia, reflects the mission of the Zeitz Foundation: achieving a powerful, positive, and lasting impact on the health of the environment, wildlife, and communities. As both an ecotourism flagship and a community initiative, Segera acts as an incubator for innovative technologies and approaches that can be tested, refined, and replicated in Africa and beyond.” National Geographic.
For this interview, which is part of a series with all the finalists for this year’s National Geographic World Legacy Awards, Anula Galewska speaks with Jochen Zeitz, Owner of Segera and Founder of the Zeitz Foundation.
ANULA: Why did you enter this award?
JOCHEN: Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm, it’s about doing more good; and therein lies the philosophy of Segera. By pioneering the unique and holistic 4Cs approach to sustainability (a balance of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce), it’s not only one of the most luxurious retreats in the world, but was created to inspire visitors to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and secure the future of this vital wildlife habitat and the surrounding Ewaso ecosystem. We had hoped that the National Geographic World Legacy Awards would help us share that message with the world, and inspire others.
ANULA: What positive impacts have your efforts to be a sustainable tourism business had on the communities and region where you operate?
JOCHEN: Segera proves that luxury can also be sustainable. Segera’s ecologically sound practices provide unsurpassed comfort for our guests while existing in total harmony with our surroundings. Vast solar installations provide all of the retreat’s energy, while recycled and captured rainwater feeds the verdant gardens providing organic vegetables which are pulled fresh from the earth for delicious guest meals. Keeping vital migration routes open to the surrounding environments, Segera allows abundant wildlife to wander the land in safety. For neighbouring communities, sustainable thinking grows in six nearby schools, built by the Zeitz Foundation and awarded for their innovative eco-practices and rainwater harvesting (one considered the Greenest School In The World by LEED architecture); allowing children to grow their own vegetables and take drinking water home to their families. Alongside local employment, the facilitation of small enterprises and workshops, unifying football leagues and conservation agricultural training, Segera has a powerful effect on the lives and livelihood of the communities that live alongside our retreat. Over the last decade what started as overgrazed and degraded land with no wildlife has literally been brought to life; Segera has been a catalyst for inspiration and change.
ANULA: How do you communicate to guests about your responsible tourism practices?
JOCHEN: As a Founding Member of The Long Run initiative, Segera enables our guests to reconnect with nature and immerse themselves in 50,000 acres of pristine wilderness. It is a destination for adventure, spiritual reflection and serenity. Providing absolute luxury while creating a minimal footprint, Segera is considered one of the most sustainable high-end tourism retreats in the world. It’s an inspirational starting point to get people excited about sustainability and to prove that you can have both the amenities of a 5 star resort whilst reducing impact on the environment.
ANULA: How do you make sure your staff care about your efforts and support them?
JOCHEN: Segera’s sustainable thinking is an ethos shared and understood by all of the “Segera Family”, a team of talented and enthusiastic staff driven to enhance our guests’ safari experiences. Segera’s holistic 4C philosophy, responsible practices and its care for the environment is seen and experienced by all of our team on a daily basis, so in addition to various training programmes, our very ethos of caring for nature has literally become “second nature”.
ANULA: What’s the best lesson you have learned over the years of developing a successful sustainable tourism business?
JOCHEN: The best lesson in all of this is the important of sharing information and ideas, working together globally to raise awareness about sustainability. The Long Run offers an incredible platform for the exchange of ideas between its nature-based enterprises, all practicing the 4C philosophy and driving sustainable tourism practices worldwide.
This article is part of the interview series with the National Geographic World Legacy Awards 2017 winners and finalists, with whom we explore the best practices in sustainable tourism communications and stakeholders’ engagement.