Wolwedans launches Solar-Hybrid Installation to further reduce carbon footprint

By Jana Brückner, Wolwedans Long Run Destination - Global Ecosphere Retreat® Certified

In line with committing to the 4Cs platform developed by the Zeitz Foundation, considerable value has been placed on putting in place initiatives to further reduce Wolwedans’ carbon footprint. To this end Wolwedanshas proudly launched its solar-hybrid installation on Saturday the 18th February. The hybrid system contains a 36 KW inverter system and a set of 140 solar panels that keep 48 batteries on full power at any time of day. The new system provides power to the Wolwedans Village, which serves as a logistics base for the camps and lodges of the Wolwedans Collection, all of which also run on 100% solar power. The new power system reduces fossil fuel consumption for power generation by 65%, setting a bold example to the local hospitality and tourism sector.

At the launch Wolwedans also officially presented its comprehensive sustainability strategy. “Sustainability is about looking at things in the long term and finding win-win solutions across the board without causing damage. Sustainability means to be more conservative in what we take out, and maintaining a balance by putting something back. Wolwedans as a tourism operation was born as a supplementary project to sustainable desert life and to create revenue for NamibRand, ” says Stephan Brückner, Managing Director of Wolwedans. Wolwedans practices responsible tourism, which is designed to provide the financial means to support and uphold the vision of conserving this ecologically unique corner of Namibia, the NamibRand Nature Reserve. “From the outset we’ve intuitively been doing what we thought was right, but now we have found the right paradigm” Stephan concludes.

Jochen Zeitz, the dynamic chairman of Puma and founder of the Zeitz Foundation, wasa special guest at the launch. Jochen officially openedthe solar hybrid installation by giving a speech on the Long Run Initiative and unveiling the brass plaque commemorating this event.In 2011 Wolwedans was the first and is currently the only Namibian establishment to be chosen as one of nine Long Run Destinations - Global Ecosphere Retreat® certifiedaround the world. Long Run Destinations embrace the philosophy of acting today for a better tomorrow. As such Wolwedans operates within the 4Cs: conservation, community, culture and commerce. But, as Stephan notes, “It takes more than just putting a solar panel on your roof. With the Long Run initiative we aim to create a global green stamp that’s worth its metal.” Jochen adds that it was hard to find destinations that lived up to the standards of the Zeitz Foundation. These handpicked establishments need to have been built with passion, from the ground up, and focused on the 4Cs. After sending his team of experts to visit Namibia to search of a potential Long Run Destination, Jochen paid Wolwedansa personal visit and realizedthat conservation here is driven in a holistic way. “Namibia, and Wolwedans specifically, is a role model to many countries.” Jochen Zeitzconfirms.

Wolwedans has recently been nominated under the conservation banner for the 2012 Tourism for Tomorrow awards, the winner being announced in Tokyo, Japan during April this year. Every year the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recognizes the very best in sustainable tourism. This Award is one of the highest accolades in the global Travel & Tourism industry.  This achievement speaks volumes about the sustainability efforts the Wolwedans operation has been pursuing since its inception. In the words of Stephan Brückner, MD and Founder of Wolwedans: 'We are in it for the long run. We feel that although the implementation of responsible tourism comes at a price, the rewards far outweigh the input costs.'

The Wolwedans Foundation investsa great deal of effort and financial supportinto vocational training. With its key objectives being education, conservation and social development, the foundation funds the Desert Academy and the Namibia Institute of Culinary Education.

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