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Q. Is Biosphere Connection a response to criticism over airlines’ greenhouse emissions?

A. No. Biosphere Connections has been planned for a long time. The partnership was originally proposed in 2001, but was delayed due to the traumatic events of 9/11. It also supports the Environmental Commitment Statement that was agreed by the then nine Star Alliance member airlines in May 1999 – endorsing that statement is still an instrumental part of the common set of standards agreed by the carriers on entry into the alliance. Biosphere Connections is therefore one part of the carriers’ commitment to promote the integration of social and environmental responsibility into all aspects of the aviation industry.

Q. Is Biosphere Connections a carbon-offsetting programme?

A. No. Biosphere Connections is intended to support biodiversity protection not just for environmental reasons, but also for the socio-economic benefit of communities – especially those who directly rely on biodiversity for their livelihoods. Furthermore, many of the Star Alliance airlines have introduced carbon-offset schemes, such as SAS, Spanair, Blue 1 and others are in the pipeline. Others have established programmes to donate air miles to support charities and Non-Governmental Organisations such as the Air Canada’s ‘Beyond Miles’, which in its first year has donated over 29 million Aeroplan Miles to charitable partners such as Engineers Without Borders and Médecins Sans Frontières. Similar schemes are operated by Lufthansa, Austrian, SWISS, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines and Adria Airways (Miles & More); Thai Airways (Miles for Merit); United (Mileage Plus Charity Miles); US Airways (Miles of Hope). Biosphere Connections will complement all the established schemes, and provide an alliance-wide framework to communicate and create connections - to help communities near and far, by sharing knowledge and resources to support their needs. Who knows how Biosphere Connections will develop in the future? We will be listening carefully to our partners and doing everything we can to ensure Star Alliance carriers, and their customers, are responsible corporate citizens.

Q. How will UNESCO and its organisations benefit from this deal?

A. Biosphere Connections will help field staff, managers of biosphere reserves and wetlands, attend training courses and workshops, build their capacity and skills to conserve biodiversity in their regions, and raise awareness of the importance of their work among governments, businesses, civil society organizations and the media.

In addition, the great strength of the Star Alliance network to connect and communicate to all stakeholders cannot be under-estimated. Film vignettes will be shown in-flight, and information conveyed via web sites and in-flight magazines - our partner organisations greatly value this opportunity to further promote their vital role to protect the earth’s natural resources.

Q. How much does the partnership cost and for how long will it run?

A. We are not disclosing the cash value of the sponsorship, because so much of the project is driven by in-kind resources, tickets and communications support. Nevertheless the Star Alliance network is making a substantial commitment to the partnership, which is shared by all the airlines in the alliance. The initial term for the partnership is three years, and after a proper review and assessment by all the partners, we fully hope to extend for many years beyond.

Q. What does Biosphere Connections hope to achieve?

A. The Star Alliance network shares the long term goals of these organisations – because sustainable development, particularly biodiversity conservation, is an important global objective, not least in the 162 countries where Star Alliance airlines fly to and from. With our support, we aim to help these organisations do their work – especially the local field scientists who conserve and manage the biosphere reserves, wetlands, national parks and world heritage sites. Similarly, these organisations can help Star Alliance airlines further improve their environmental performance and their commitment to sustainable social and economic development, in the communities they serve and beyond.

Q. Why did the Star Alliance network choose to partner with these organisations?

A. The Star Alliance network sought experienced, credible and internationally recognised environmental conservation organisations to partner with, including UNESCO, with its United Nations status. All three organisations have extensive international networks that complement the Star Alliance network, and an established reputation for promoting sustainable development.• UNESCO: ‘Man & Biosphere Programme’ (MAB) – based in Paris. • World Conservation Union (IUCN) – based in Gland, Switzerland. • Ramsar Wetlands - an inter-governmental treaty signed in Ramsar, Iran – based in Gland, Switzerland

Q. What can the passengers do? Do they put money in an envelope?

A. We are not asking for cash donations. Passengers, staff, are asked to learn more about Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage Sites, Ramsar Wetlands, and consider their own impacts on the environment when they travel, whether for business or leisure. We want to reduce our own carbon footprint, while devising better mechanisms to ‘offset’ current emissions through emission reductions elsewhere. Our experts and partners are looking at various options for the future.

  • Adria Airways
  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United