While ‘ethics’ isn’t necessarily the most interesting buzz-word flying around in our contemporary vocabulary, there are still certain respectable standards to which the traveler can adhere. Enter Ethical Traveler and the developing world’s ten most ethical travel destinations. ET releases this list yearly and does so in the name of a few key factors which determine the ethicality of a given world location.
So, what exactly makes a location ethical? And what makes traveling to said location such an ethical thing? Starting with the former, ET compiles their list of ethical locations based on reported data from varied sources such as the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Amnesty International, Freedom House, the UN Development Programme, and UNICEF. The key factors ET considers in determining ethicality are the destination’s commitment to environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. For example, Argentina tops the list, primarily because of their commitment to abdicating all forms of deforestation in their country, and setting/meeting greenhouse gas emissions.
Social welfare, a slightly-more ambiguous category, comes down to simple human well-being. ET says that one strong factor in this category is “the mortality rate of young children.” Accessing UNICEF’s reports for infant mortality rates, Poland and Lithuania ranked lowest on the list. ET also considers other things, like “access to safe drinking water, sustainable water management, responsible sanitation practices, and agricultural management,” and takes further reports into consideration, in order to make a conscientious decision.
Finally, if not most importantly, are the factors of human rights. ET gathers data from reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and Freedom House when considering this. Because the list is made of developing nations, they admit the human-rights shortcomings inherent in not only developing nations, but all nations globally. What matters to them is advances made in human rights, like South Africa’s attempts at expanding the freedom of their press.
ET does employ a noticeably Western bias in their ethical assessments, specifically with their admonishment of democratic advances in certain nations, but politics aside, the ten-nation list is admirable in compilation. Ethics aren’t necessarily quantifiable, so lists like this are always best understood as biased, and what’s important is finding the right sort of bias. To do this, maybe the best thing to do is find out for yourself.