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Green Armada Foundation Partners with UNWTO and USF: A Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

The Green Armada Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is a core member of the Blue Community Consortium, a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Affiliate,  and part of the UNWTO International Sustainable Tourism Observatory. Green Armada began its environmental advocacy in 2007 in Palm Harbor, Florida, initially through clearing the coastline and inland waterways to get rid of trash left by humans. By providing positive action and fostering relationships between organizations and interested people, the company also helps provide transparent access to verified data. Today, the nonprofit group takes their mission to the next level: Protecting Tampa Bay’s fragile marine ecosystem through a global partnership for sustainable tourism.

Green Armada Foundation Co-founder and CEO Vince Albanese discussed the details in an interview with Bold Business. The Green Armada Foundation had the bold idea of working with the Blue Community Consortium and the University of South Florida. “We’ve managed to bring together the first UN World Tourist Observatory in North America to the Tampa Bay area,” he explained regarding the recent collaboration. “That observatory’s mission is to be able to create best practices on what’s happening here in our area.”

Together for A Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

The Blue Community Consortium of which Green Armada is a founding member was approved as a UNWTO Affiliate at the UNWTO General Assembly in September 2015.  It includes a network of various tourism stakeholders, belonging to both the public and private sectors, as well as nonprofits, academic institutions, international organizations, and some of the UN’s agencies and programs. Organizations that belong to this partnership share a common goal and vision: sustainable tourism—transforming and creating bold impacts in tourism not just locally but globally as well. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a global partnership for sustainable tourism is deemed advantageous.

The UNWTO has a network of sustainable tourism observatories.  In December of 2016, the USF Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGs) became host to the Blue Community Sustainable Tourism Observatory and is the first of its kind in the United States.   The Observatory has now grown to include communities in six Florida counties and with this growth is now hosted by the Blue Community Consortium.

As part of the UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism, they held the UNTWO conference on October 26 to 29, 2017 on Anna Maria Island, Manatee County. The conference was coordinated by the Blue Community Consortium with Rebecca Tobias serving as Conference Coordinator. Among the presenters during the event were notable USF members: Ed Chiles, a faculty member of USF Patel College of Global Sustainability; Dr. David Randle, Director of Sustainable Tourism at the USF Patel College of Globaland president; Louis Zunguze, the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability Coastal Sustainability Director; Dr. Richard Berman a Professor of the USF Institute for Innovation & Advanced Discovery; and Richard Jordan, faculty member of the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability.

a chart containing the logo of USF Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGs) with the words above it: "United Nations World Tourism Organization, USF and the Green Armada Foundation Partner"

Sustainable Tourism in Action

In addition to talks and panels from them and many other local and international leaders in sustainable tourism, such as Sarbuland Kahan from the UNWTO U.N. Headquarters, Joe Tankersley—author and Walt Disney Imagineer—, Chris Castro—Director of Sustainability for the City of Orlando—, and Sharon Wright—Director of Sustainability for the City of St. Petersburg. There were also several experiential learning sessions that allow people to have a feel of sustainable tourism in action.

The observatory regularly performs gathering and analysis of relevant information regarding tourism and its impacts on the ecosystems and social environments.  The initial observatory boundaries were in Pinellas and Manatee Counties, two of the most visited areas in Florida. Together, the two counties welcome over 13 million visitors annually, and tourism generates over 116,300 jobs. As they are home to some of the best beaches in the country, the UN, USF, and Green Armada’s collaborative effort vow to protect this unique coastal environment.  In the past year, the Observatory has expanded to the cities of New Smyrna Beach, Key West, and Orlando.

“The Green Armada’s participation in that is focused on the acquisition of the most important resource with the UN is really after is data that can be used for best practices,” Albanese mentioned. “So our ability to collect, collaborate, distribute that data around the world is the bold idea that comes with it.” Notably, Green Armada provides data through all fronts of environmental research, helping both policymakers and tourism managers alike, in crafting and implementing better policies to protect the area with regard to tourism.

Believing in Blockchain

“The United Nations World Tourism Organization has not only adopted and endorsed the program here but also we’re participating in what’s called the Futures Task-force in setting a direction for the UN,” Albanese explained. The Futures Task-force initiative was created in the October 2017 year during the Choices for Our Sustainable Tourism Futures Conference on Anna Maria Island, Florida. The Futures Task-force was created from the International Year for Sustainable Development’s mission: “Travel, Enjoy, Respect.

Green Armada also makes use of blockchain technology—essentially a transparent, accessible, tamper-proof database. “I have the privilege of representing blockchain on that Futures Task-force as we work to define what’s been called the decade of tourism from 2020 to 2030,” Albanese continued. Through this technology, data on environmental projects have more accountability.

In the interview, Albanese described this technology’s potential, likening it to a three-legged stool. “That includes the fact that transparency is at the core of what we want,” he explained. “The second is trust. And my definition of trust in this particular area is being able to authenticate the source of the information and to ensure that the data that is on the blockchain, on the ledger is in fact from the individual or organization that you expect it to be. The intent of all of these is the third leg, which is to drive accountability around that model.”

Other Details in a Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism

Through teaming up with like-minded organizations, Green Armada promotes the adoption of effective policies backed by solid, untampered data. Albanese affirmed that the foundation’s mission “has always been to support grassroots efforts for positive environmental and healthy change. Health and wellness in my mind are irrevocably linked together.” Through blockchain, there is now a data platform that can advance the foundation’s mission.

Truly, sustainable tourism is not only achievable but also effective. Through a global partnership for sustainable tourism between organizations not afraid to enact bold visions and missions, Green Armada Foundation and its partners can help create a positive change not just in Florida, but also throughout the country and around the world.

Could Alcohol be the Fountain of Youth?

If you want to live past 90, you better start drinking two glasses of wine a day.

Researchers at the Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna, Woods, California, recently revealed the secret to longevity of more than 1,600 Americans who are currently over 90 years old.

The 90+ Study, which involved the “oldest of the old” Americans, started in 2003 and was meant to determine the magic formula that leads to longer life. This year, the researchers zoomed in on lifestyles, activities, and food.

new study on alcohol and longevity

Based on the results, people who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day lived longer than those who didn’t drink alcohol.

Neurologist Dr. Claudia Kawas heads the 90+ Study at the University of California. In February, she presented the research findings at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held at Austin, Texas.

US News quoted Kawas who delivered the keynote address: “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.”

Drinking Within Limits

There have been countless studies on the positive effects of light to moderate alcohol consumption. This is classified as under 14 drinks a week for men and 7 for women. The protective effects are most significant when it comes to preventing heart disease.

Researchers also revealed that for older people, the benefits of light drinking “clearly outweighed” the possible health risks.

Dr. Bo Xi, is an associate professor at Shandong University School of Public Health in China. Her team analyzed data from over 300,000 participants in the US from 1977 to 2009. The data came from National Health Interview surveys.

“Our research shows that light to moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death. A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption, which should be stressed to consumers and patients.” 

According to the study, moderate drinking reduced risk of mortality from various causes by as much as 25%, while death from cardiovascular disease was reduced by as much as 34% across both genders.

At the same time, two antioxidant compounds found in red wine – resveratrol and quercetin – have been proven effective in preventing inflammation and blood clotting.

What is it About Alcohol?

Florence Bearse from Bangor, Maine, celebrated her 100th birthday and said that the key to long life is a glass of wine. Antonio Docampo, who reached the ripe old age of 107, drank a mix of brandy and red wine every day. And then there’s Eileen Ash, 105, from Norwich, England, who claims that two glasses of red wine daily was her secret to a long and healthy life.

According to scientists, the beneficial component is polyphenols, which is found mostly in red wine – not white. This makes red wine the better and healthier option since the skin of the grapes are removed before the fermentation process. Unfortunately, the phytochemical compounds are found on the skin.

Interestingly, your nightly glass of wine or bottle of beer can also increase creativity. A research published by Dr. Mathias Benedek of Austria revealed that moderate alcohol consumption enhances the brain and boosts creative activities such as writing or painting.

So it turns out parents and grandparents have been on to something all along. Cheers!

Wealth Shock — Can Bankruptcy Cause Death? Research Says “Yes!”

A 20-year study of more than 8,000 Americans showed that the sudden loss of wealth can have an adverse effect on a person. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association where it said that the impact of “negative wealth shock” may cause a person’s death. To note: Negative wealth shock is defined as the loss of at least 75 percent of a person’s assets—including pension fund, business or home—over a period of at most 2 years. The study was conducted at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, IL. And it showed that those affected by the sudden drop in wealth had had a significant increase in risks of dying over the following 20 years.

The 8,714 respondents were between the ages of 51 and 61 from various parts of the United States. According to Lindsay Pool, the lead researcher of the team that conducted the study, “A 50 percent increased risk of mortality over a 20-year period is a lot.” (Pool is a research assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.) She and her colleagues collected data on the respondents every 2 years between 1994 and 2014.

Effects of Wealth Shock

The researchers were surprised that 2,430 of the subjects had experienced negative wealth shock. These were compared with those who never had much wealth. Both groups had almost the same level of mortality risk. The researchers also tried to rule out the possibility that existing health problems which might have caused people to lose money in the first place and which might have already put them at risk of early death. After factoring that into the data, the researchers found that there was still a significant association between negative wealth shock and dying prematurely.

As a matter of fact, the findings showed that a person who would suddenly lose wealth would have an increased risk of premature death. The sudden financial loss could also cause depression, increased instances of hypertension, and other stress-related conditions. Plus one would most probably also no longer afford medical care including medications and doctor’s visits.

a photo showing a mountain climber hanging on the edge of mountain and a hand with bills as well as percentages that say the following data in relation to negative wealth shock: 75% Losing Their Wealth In 2 Years, 50% Increase Risk of Dying Over The next 2 Decades
People who experience negative wealth shock are at risk of premature death!

Effects Across Factors

Notably, the effect of negative wealth shock was more pronounced in women. And once financial loss had happened, they had the same level of risk of dying as the men. Other adjustments to the data were included to account for any bias due to marital changes, unemployment and health status.

Clearly, the connection between sudden loss of wealth and mortality persisted across the different models. Related to the findings was the case that a person’s chances of dying were higher if the loss of a house was involved or if the person had fewer assets.

The Bottomline of Wealth Shock

Harvard University’s Dr. Alan Garber wrote an accompanying editorial which said that wealth shock can be as dangerous as a heart disease diagnosis. He also noted that doctors needed to understand that money problem may affect a patient’s health. The director of the Virginia Commonwealth Center on Society and Health Dr. Steven Woolf said that it is important to prevent people from experiencing negative wealth shock. Moreover, the dean of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago Katherine Baicker said that there is a need for more research to find out what to do about saving lives from wealth shock. (It is worth mentioning that both Woolf and Baicker were not involved in the study.)

This kind of data shows how sudden change or loss affects people negatively. And while further research and additional data are needed, the study proves to offer significant information which could be useful in addressing mental health or psychological issues. Indeed, the impact of negative wealth shock cannot be undermined because it has no ready remedy—and it is a case that heavily requires careful financial decisions.

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