Our Polar Promise: Polar Exploration and Sustainability
Quark Expeditions is profoundly committed to environmentally responsible tourism. Protecting the places we visit is necessary to ensure we can continue to introduce travelers to the spectacular beauty of the polar wilderness. Through Polar Promise, our comprehensive sustainability strategy framework, we’ve incorporated existing sustainability initiatives into a cohesive plan so we can identify where we can do better or do more.
“Quark Expeditions recognizes its responsibility to do more to protect these magnificent places,” says Andrew White, President of Quark Expeditions. “We want to go beyond reducing our footprint. We want to work with other leaders in the industry and with our guests to address the complex and challenging issues facing the polar regions.”
Our Polar Promise framework is made up of four pillars. Each addresses a different aspect of our business, our operations—and ultimately your journey.
Embedding Responsible Business Practices
Quark Expeditions aims to be the leader in responsible polar tourism, the ‘go-to’ operator for conscious travelers and the preferred partner of the world’s most responsible brands. As a polar-focused tourism operator, our sustainability principles are integral to every decision we make, whether it’s in the polar wilderness or in the places we work every day. We employ the best people in the industry and will lead the industry in the diversification of our workforce. We work to reduce our impact, catalyze change in the industry and help improve our suppliers’ operations.
We’re proud, long-time members in key industry organizations, such as the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). We adhere to these organizations’ stringent guidelines, which are designed to ensure the Polar Regions are protected for future generations.
Reducing Our Footprint and Building Resilience
When it comes to our footprint, the most substantial impact we can have is how we get you, our guest, to the remote Polar environments and how we preserve those majestic environments once we get there.
Quark Expeditions aims to reduce our carbon emissions per passenger by 10% through fleet improvements and changes in order to reduce our impact. We’re working with our supply chain to measure, report and reduce their emissions, and our office and field operations aim to reuse or recycle 100% of waste on Quark Expeditions-owned vessels.
In 2019, an analysis of our historical ship fuel consumption showed that we decreased emissions by 13% from the 5-year average emissions per passenger per day. The purpose of this analysis was to establish a baseline and to further reduce our Scope 1 carbon emissions.
In terms of waste, Quark Expeditions has taken steps to reduce the amount of waste we are sending to landfills, including avoiding single-use plastics and partnering in the SeaGreen recycling initiative in Ushuaia. We’re working towards a zero-waste plan on Quark Expeditions-owned vessels.
Conservation and Impact in Polar Environments
Quark Expeditions aims to be the leading expedition investor in outreach projects within the polar regions, working with a wide circumpolar network of scientists, community leaders, and sustainable innovators. Our goal is to contribute a minimum of $500,000 USD each year through in-kind donations, Quark Expeditions funding, and funds from passenger auctions in support of key polar environmental research, community engagement and sustainable development projects.
Nalunaiqsijiit, the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative, is a program dedicated to providing Nunavummiut with the qualifications and certifications required to work onboard expedition cruise ships, through in situ training and experience onboard ships. Quark Expeditions is excited to have hosted two Nalunaiqsijiit interns onboard Ocean Adventurer during the 2019 Arctic season, and have invited an additional four during the 2019/20 Antarctic Season.
Thanks to our guests’ support, proceeds from Quark Expeditions’ onboard auctions have contributed an average of $200,000 each year to organizations dedicated to polar environmental research, community engagement, and sustainable development projects.
Some of the organizations we’re supporting this year include the South Georgia Heritage Trust, Penguin Watch, Seabird Watch, and Polar Bears International.
Building our guests’ Polar Legacy
Quark Expeditions aspires to facilitate a meaningful connection between people and places, between wilderness and humankind, and we firmly believe in the long-lasting exponential impact that travelers can have. We aim to inspire and empower our guests and partners to make positive change, the collective impact of which can be greater than our operational impact. We are facilitating and capturing the positive impact of our guests as part of the Polar Ambassador Program.
For more information about the Polar Ambassador Program, please write to us at [email protected]
How We Did in 2019
The goals for Quark Expeditions’ Polar Promise for 2019 have been largely to establish baselines and processes for collecting data for the future. While this may not be glamorous, it has proven to be powerful and has armed all of us with information about the small and not-so-small impact of the changes Quark Expedition made over the past few years. This step is an important one to ensure that sustainable programming remains part of who we are and what we do.
We achieved some significant progress towards our goals in 2019, some of which are highlighted in the infographic below.
In our first sustainability report, we’ve summarize our progress in launching our Polar Promise sustainability strategy and reflect on successes and challenges in 2019.
Operating in the last two great wildernesses on the planet is a great privilege to all of us at Quark Expeditions. But that honor of exploring the Arctic and Antarctica comes with a great responsibility that’s felt—and wholeheartedly embraced—by each and every one of us on the Quark Expeditions team. Whether we’re leading guests on a kayak excursion in the waters of Antarctica or in our head office helping guests plan their next polar journey, protecting the polar regions is always first and foremost.
Just as we go beyond in the polar seas to create life-changing experiences for our guests, we’re equally determined to do whatever we can to preserve the pristine polar environments for the next generation. That’s why we call this our Polar Promise.
For more information, please write to us at [email protected]