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O2E as a Responsible Travel Organisation

O2E is a non-political, non-religious organisation which provides resources and assistance to programs for the well-being of animals and the environment. We pride ourselves on being an ethically responsible volunteering company taking into consideration, first and foremost, animal welfare and environmental responsibility.

O2E believes it is crucial that there are standards that should be upheld when organisations place candidates within the voluntary sector.  Since the main purpose of providing volunteers within projects is to supply much needed funding and resources that are otherwise difficult to come by, it is essential that the main beneficiary of the volunteers’ presence and financial contribution is to the project itself.

Many volunteer organisations have become established over the past few years aimed at recruiting and placing volunteers on animal, conservation and community projects; however O2E questions the actual impact volunteers make on some of these projects and the animals and people they aim to help.

Recent studies have been undertaken showing the presence of volunteers can actually have a negative impact on communities and some organisations are passing little or none of the volunteers’ financial contribution to the project or community.  Projects that are sold as animal welfare projects are commercial ventures that exploit and abuse animals, conservation project volunteers leave tree nurseries alive and well only to have them die within a few days, and the transient nature of social development placements that involves children such as orphanage care or teaching can have lasting negative effects on the children involved. Naturally, instances such as these are seen especially in developing countries, where individuals and communities are easily taken advantage of.

The term Voluntourism has come to define the growing number of volunteer projects which have little value to beneficiaries. Instead these projects provide little other than warm fuzzy feelings and photo opportunities for the volunteer.  The volunteer leaves believing they have made a difference and have contributed to a worthy cause, none the wiser that they have simply undertaken a tour in irresponsible travel.  Worse still, they may have contributed negatively to broader issues such as local job loss, placed increased stress on local sanitation systems and water supplies, supported negligent animal breeding programs or supported projects where profits go straight into the pockets of project owners or organisers rather than to achieve project outcomes. 

When you look at the fine print, many of these Voluntourism operators are travel agents looking to capitalise on the growing “market” of people who have made a selfless decision to dedicate some time, money and effort during their leisure time to a cause they believe in. These operators are often unaware or nonchalant about the wider ramifications that many of these activities bring.  We believe that this only reinforces to the volunteer that such activities are acceptable. An example of this is elephant riding which is seen by most to be a normal and common practice, however, although the line between wild and domesticated elephants initially seems very distinct, the domesticated elephant has never been selectively bred and thus both genetically and behaviourally remains a wild elephant.


O2E was founded and is run by volunteers. It was established with one main objective in mind; to create partnerships between individuals and animal welfare and conservation organisations so that positive contributions could be made by the volunteer,  both short term at the project and long term with a change of attitude and global responsibility. We recognise, and have experienced firsthand, that not every day will be a happy one, that things will not always go to plan and that volunteers may experience feelings of frustration, upset, anger or helplessness. Welcome to the real world!

The first step is to recognise the major environmental problems faced by the planet today including over population, deforestation, animal extinction and water pollution.  The second step is to do something about it!

Whether your volunteer experience is one of fulfilment or one that saddens you, it is up to you what you decide to do when you return home. You may make a small change and chose to recycle, you may campaign against the use of wild animals in circuses or animal shows, or you may become vegetarian. This focus, on one individual or one action at a time, may seem like a slow route to a more sustainable world. However, it is individual change at the grass-roots level that makes it possible for broader social and policy progress to occur.

We highly value our volunteers and recognise their importance and the contribution they make to animal and conservation efforts and the organisations they visit.

As part of our commitment to ethically responsible volunteering, O2E are committed to the following areas.

Responsibilities to Animals and Conservation:

  • O2E has established a system of selection of both local and international organisations that is governed by O2E’s Ethical Standardsto ensure that we only support project partners whose objectives are animal and environmental conservation.
  • Work collaboratively with local bodies and authorities where possible to help preserve or improve the surrounding environment and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for animals and wildlife communities.
  • Every project is visited by O2E so that we experience the project, the work, the accommodation, the food and the people firsthand, ensuring that each project meets the Oceans2Earth Ethical Standards and the Wildlife Code.
  • We do not support commercial ventures that profit from animals, wildlife, people or the environment.  We only support organisations where funds are used to benefit animals and conservation initiatives.

Responsibilities to the Project:

  • Design and facilitate volunteer travel experiences that are jointly beneficial to the volunteer and project partners.
  • Through an application process, we source conscientious volunteers in support of O2E projects which fulfil the needs and requirements of animal welfare and environmental conservation objectives.
  • Develop positive long-term relationships with our project partners so that the benefit for each organisation is ongoing.
  • Provide financial and service support that will benefit the project or organisation.
  • Facilitate volunteer experiences in a way that encourages positive cultural exchanges.
  • Establish a zero litter policy in all project locations.

Responsibilities to our Volunteers:

  • Design and facilitate volunteer travel experiences that are jointly beneficial to the volunteer and the project partners.
  • Provide O2E volunteers with meaningful, safe, low-cost, quality animal welfare and conservation projects.
  • Facilitate volunteer experiences in a way that encourages positive cultural exchanges.
  • Provide honest, accurate and relevant information to prepare volunteers for placements.
  • Offer continual assistance and support to volunteers throughout their placements.
  • Provide support and direction for those returning home who wish to continue in supporting animal and conservation initiatives.

Responsibilities to the Environment:

  • Environmental conservation lies at the heart of O2E projects, therefore we recognise the need to improve and sustain the natural landscape so that our wildlife lives safely and in good health.
  • Take measures to contribute to effective protection, preservation and revegetation methods which are paramount for habitat conservation initiatives.
  • Encourage our project partners and volunteers to consume responsibly so that Earth’s natural resources are preserved.
  • Aim to awaken greater environmental awareness within our own organisation, as well as collaborating and learning from others through dialogue, partnerships and local initiatives.
  • Promote more compassion in attitudes so people can make environmental choices that can be felt in all areas of their lives.

Responsibilities to Wildlife Communities:

  • All conservation problems are enhanced by human populations and therefore most O2E projects involve the local wildlife communities.  Since man causes many of the challenges we are facing in this respect, we recognise that altering behaviours and attitudes together with implementing and supporting education initiatives are important factors in developing solutions to the problems.
  • O2E believes in developing successful working partnerships at each project site and works with local communities, government bodies, NGO's and universities to share its knowledge with this wider community.
  • Our affiliations with host communities aim to be long-term, and over time enduring relationships are built based on mutual trust and respect.
  • We focus on the organisations and communities O2E are supporting and are mindful not to create dependencies within host communities of developing countries for services and products they are not in a position to support long term.
  • Volunteers usually stay in one place for longer than a traditional traveller; therefore it is likely you will be making friends with the local people. To gain the most out of the placement, we encourage volunteers to get involved and embrace the heart and soul of the country. 
  • Recognise that the presence of volunteers in developing countries can affect local wildlife communities in a negative way, so care is taken to ensure that volunteer placements are aligned with the objectives of the host organisations.
  • Your volunteer fees are forwarded to your project and are used to contribute to the day to day running and development of the project. Volunteers often have the opportunity to visit the local villages or markets and therefore contribute to the economy of the area. This allows locals to appreciate and welcome visitors into their communities and for them to develop alternate money generating activities than those involving animals.



O2E as a Responsible
Travel Organisation

O2E Responsible Travel

Download O2E
PDF Brochure

Download O2E PDF Brochure

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