Lakehead University Alumni Magazine

Embracing Sustainability Globally

Kate Wannan, HBOR/BA'02

Brigitte Petersen
Published October 22, 2010

From Inca ruins in Peru to the Amazon jungle in Bolivia, Kate Wannan's tourism career has allowed her to fully embrace sustainability on a global level.

Wannan, who worked as a guide in Northern Ontario and South America, is executive director of Eco-librium Sustainable Adventures, based in Elliot Lake, Ontario. Besides volunteering in community development, conservation, and working with street youth in South America, Wannan also worked as the manager of Playa Escondida Ecolodge in Ecuador. These experiences influenced her to develop an eco-tourism company in Ontario that combined her passion for community development and sustainable tourism.

Wannan believes sustainable development in tourism means developing a product that caters to tourists, but also conserves and protects local environments and cultures, while allowing local economies to grow. One example of how Eco-librium does this is through its work with an eco-tourism project in the Ecuadorean Amazon. A lodge is provided for tourists to visit and experience high-quality guiding, gourmet  food, and accommodation. Money raised through this project helps to fund education for children from indigenous communities in Ecuador.

"I think it comes down to respect and responsibility from all the key players in a project," says Wannan. "Local operators need to show a commitment to conservation of the environment in their tourism practice, educating about local cultures instead of exposing them, and promoting community growth."

Despite having travelled to Patagonia, Machu Picchu, and the Canadian Rockies, world-wandering Wannan confirms her favourite locale is her birthplace, Elliot Lake. "It has such pristine beauty, and when you lead a nomadic life like mine, there really is no place like home," she says.

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