Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.
Alex Khajavi, CEO and Chairman of the Board of NatureAir Holding Company SA, and Naturegate -a sustainable tourism development company, carries an extensive background in international finance, tourism development and ecotourism consulting. Mr. Khajavi has worked on sustainable development projects in the Seychelles, Egypt, Fiji, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Belize, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Kenya.
Mr. Khajavi has lectured on conceptualization, sustainable design, and tourism planning for the Ecotourism Society, UNESCO, United Nations and contributed to several books and papers on sustainability. He has also worked closely with the Ecotourism Society as a premier supporting member.
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.
NatureAir wanted to make a difference, help save the planet, and better assist the communities it serves. NatureAir Founder Alex Khajavi has dug his hands in many sustainable projects across the world for nearly 30 years. In addition, he’s known for being an advocate to encourage developing countries to adopt ecotourism as a financially and environmentally sustainable tool for development. Therefore, it was no secret when he and his colleagues began researching a way for NatureAir to limit its carbon emissions. It was understood that for an airline to become sustainable it would be challenging but not impossible. In creating a 100% carbon neutral aviation program Mr. Khajavi was hoping to make a spark, which might lead to a more sustainable aviation industry worldwide. In 2003, when NatureAir began researching this issue of carbon neutrality, there was very little understanding in regards to the public and private sector of involvement. Although, Mr. Khajavi felt his company could change this and add exposure to the issue. He wanted to get people talking about the possibility of airlines becoming carbon neutral.
Furthermore, this program would also benefit the local communities along the bio-diverse zones of the Osa Pensinsula. NatureAir joined forces with Costa Rica’s Government Forestry Financing Program (FONAFIFO). The backbone of Mr. Khajavi’s program is for every ounce of carbon emissions produced in the air, and on the ground NatureAir purchases carbon credits from FONAFIFO. NatureAir provides data each year to FONAFIFO based on its fuel consumption for the previous year. From there, NatureAir reviews the projects and locations of landowners that have applied for the Forestry Financing Program. The participants have voluntarily agreed to conserve their land in exchange for yearly financing which can be used how they wish. 20% of NatureAir's carbon offsetting financial contributions goes toward administration, analysis and auditing of the lands, while 80% is paid directly to the landowners for guaranteed protection of their privately owned tropical forests in Southern Costa Rica.
To continue with Mr. Khajavi’s mission and cut back on more emissions each day, his colleagues found a way to limit CO2 emissions from ground vehicles. Through NatureAir’s wholly owned fueling company, Aerotica, a formula of bio-diesel was produced. While Mr. Khajavi realizes it’s nearly impossible to entirely eliminate emissions in the air, he has found one way to cut back on the carbon produced from ground vehicles. Bio-diesel is cleaner burning than petroleum diesel: studies show combustion of bio-diesel emits 40-60 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.
All of these program work together to further continue on with Mr. Khajavi’s mission to live in a more environmentally sustainable future.
Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.
Flying a NatureAir plane gives travelers the satisfaction that they are helping to save trees and its local habitat in the rich biodiversity zones forests of Southern Costa Rica. Thanks to its customers NatureAir is able to guarantee the protection of more than more than 500 acres of tropical forest.
NatureAir’s efforts help protect the biological corridors between the Corcovado National Park and Pidras Blanca National Park by ensuring wildlife is not threatened by deforestation. These parks are home to 400 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, 116 species of amphibians and reptiles, over 500 species of trees and more than 6,000 species of insects. The park also protects endangered animals such as the jaguar, puma, crocodile, tapir, poison dart, golden frogs, and the harpy eagle. The regions beaches are also major nesting sites for sea turtles. Without these forests travelers would never have the opportunity to witness nature at its finest. These parks are very important for medical research, animal behavior and evolution studies.
What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?
The company has adopted an integrated approach to the issue of global warming by forming an internal sustainable tourism committee to ensure the NatureAir Sustainable Tourism Policy is innovative and implemented in the best capabilities. NatureAir understands it’s important to work with groups that support sustainable practices on a global level. The company is affiliated with the Rainforest Alliance, the World Heritage Alliance, the International Ecotourism Society, and the Climate Neutral Network. NatureAir supports the work of these companies and is proud to lead the fight for a more sustainable future on all levels of tourism.