For TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau, adventure runs in the family. Granddaughter of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Céline has carried on a tradition of exploration and conservation. As a documentary filmmaker and gifted storyteller, Céline has traveled the world working to help amplify the voices of the amazing individuals who are working to protect ecosystems, wildlife, and people. In 2015, TreadRight welcomed Céline as its official ambassador, helping to tell the stories of its projects and partners.
"We all have a role to play in conserving our environment; after all, we want future generations to have the opportunity to experience the diverse and inspiring people, cultures and places this world offers. Together with TreadRight, I am working to support the organizations looking to make this a reality. To date, TreadRight has assisted more than 35 projects, and the future is looking even brighter with many more on the horizon. This year our partnership reached another level with two new initiatives: The TreadRight Heritage Initiative, which is about empowering individuals by supporting their artisanal heritage; and The TreadRight Wildlife Initiative, which is focused on tackling the global issue of wildlife poaching and crime. I know that together we can make a big difference.”
Read our Q&A with Céline to learn more about her passion for wildlife conservation, how she became the TreadRight Ambassador, and how she embodies the organization's philosophy.
Tell us about TreadRight and your involvement.
TreadRight is a not-for-profit foundation established by The Travel Corporation. All travel brands under The Travel Corporation group give financial support to TreadRight, which in turn supports sustainable tourism projects around the world.
How did you become the TreadRight Ambassador?
After several years working with Contiki Holidays as their Sustainability Partner, I joined the overall sustainability efforts by becoming a member of the TreadRight Steering Committee in 2012. The Steering Committee assists in sourcing and selecting the projects that TreadRight supports. Stepping into the role of Ambassador is a natural next step that allows me to support the TreadRight team by getting the message out about what they do. It is also an opportunity to bring attention to the project partners to all travelers and create local ambassadors of travelers and guests.
What kinds of projects does TreadRight support?
We support a wide variety of projects that all support the health of a destination. A few examples that stand out: we help to care for and protect the penguins on Australia’s Victoria coast; we are working to rebuild Vernazza, a city in Italy devastated by landslides in 2011; and we’re actively supporting conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecosystem in Central America. But there really are far too many projects to list here so, please see take a look at where we work for more details.
Why did you decide to accept the post as the TreadRight Ambassador?
Because I am a filmmaker and advocate for many causes, becoming the Ambassador for TreadRight - and therefore the public voice or storyteller for these efforts - was the natural next step in our collaboration. Beyond that, I know the tourism industry has an incredible opportunity to lead the way in areas of sustainability and reciprocity because of the access we have to places and people, as well as the ability to influence the experiences of travelers. I wanted to be part of that.
Is there a TreadRight Initiative or project that you feel most passionate about?
My heartstrings leap at the possibilities of supporting wildlife conservation projects and I will always be present to help defend the species that need it. That being said, I have a real penchant towards helping empower people at the grassroots level, those who have the will power to move forward, but need support to make it happen. This can be done through skills training, education, and access to resources, but always in collaboration with the person in need.
Have you seen TreadRight at work in the field?
Prior to my role as the TreadRight Ambassador, I worked closely with Contiki as their sustainability partner. In that role I was lucky enough to experience and film several TreadRight projects, first the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership program in Mexico, WildAid’s project called Sharks Count in The Galapagos and most recently the Sea Turtle Conservancy rescue and rehabilitation center in Tortuguero, Costa Rica.
I’m excited to visit the artisans involved with TreadRight’s Heritage Initiative in 2015.
Can anyone donate personally to TreadRight?
No, not to TreadRight itself. But you can help support some of the projects we are aligned with. We encourage you to donate to each and every one of our partners that make that an option through their respective websites. Currently you can donate to The Wilderness Foundation through the TreadRight Wildlife Initiative.
Céline, what projects are you personally focused on at the moment?
My current major work is a feature length documentary project and engagement campaign “Tribes on the Edge” based on my personal journey with the tribes of the Vale do Javari indigenous territory in the Brazilian Amazon. Over the next few years, we will be creating an integrated educational initiative, create a piece of collaborative art in tribute to the Javari region, and attend conferences, film festivals, and relevant events to showcase our film and work. This project also resonates with my role as TreadRight Ambassador and their Heritage Initiative as we are looking to bring something back to the communities whose stories we are telling.