“The United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development impact everyone and everything. It is the legacy we will leave our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren,” said Sofia Markovich, owner of Sofia’s Travel, LLC (an Avoya Network member), who has been a passionate advocate for the initiative.
A year after meeting with Markovich to discuss a list of 17 global goals aimed at transforming our world, she discussed what progress has been made and what work still needs to be done.
Markovich said her partnership with World Vision has evolved quite a bit this past year, thanks to reconnecting with Bernadette Martin, corporate engagement manager, World Vision U.S. The two collaborated on participating at the Annual Avoya Network Conference this past June. Martin also accompanied Markovich to the United Nations Global Engagement Summit at the New York headquarters in February 2019.
“Sofia spoke about her personal drive to build relationships within her network to further the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) goals, and encouraged attendees to find an SDG goal they could be passionate about, as well,” Martin said.
“We were fortunate and grateful for the Avoya Network in giving us the opportunity and support to speak and bring awareness to fellow travel professionals and preferred suppliers on the Sustainable Development Goals,” Markovich said. “We heard from various suppliers during our five-day conference — including The Travel Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Club Med, and Lindblad Expedition, along with others — on how they are incorporating sustainability within their corporations and how it impacts the travel industry locally and internationally.”
Markovich said while most are sustainably responsible, and all are either doing something and or want to be, there is still an unawareness on how to connect all of the efforts to achieve the global goals by 2030.
“I received feedback from advisors and suppliers who are all looking to do something, but don’t know where to start and or where to go to connect, partner, and support this initiative.”
Choose a goal to support
It’s this quandary that inspired Markovich to join the SDG initiative in first place. “I am in the business of building relationships. That’s why I chose Goal #17, ‘Partnerships for the Goals,’ to focus on. I use my sphere of influence to partner up in order to make an impact and bring awareness to these objectives. We can’t do it alone. The impact is greater for all of us if we come together to achieve the goals.”
According to goal #17, in order to accomplish the global goals for sustainable development, “the collection of data and monitoring and accountability are crucial.”
Martin said it’s a role that is perfectly suited for her: “Sofia’s second focus is connecting the dots between what people and businesses are already doing, and tracking those actions towards the SDGs, so everyone can see the progress that is being made. People need to know that, collectively, we are making a difference.”
For those who would like to do more, Markovich said they can find a lot of information on the UNA website. But, the best way to get started is to connect with their local UNA chapter and see what they are doing. Tourism plays a great part in every aspect of the SDGs, so Markovich educates her clients about the SDGs and the impact they have every time they travel.
“If it’s in line with what you are passionate about, then support them and share your own ideas/passion with them. We don’t have to recreate the wheel to bring awareness through local- and state-sponsored programs,” she said. “I still work within my community and support various local and international non-profit organizations. The most important part is that you are supporting something that is making a greater impact for generations to come, like World Vision.”
“If we are to achieve the SDGs, we have to go to the most remote places and the most fragile states,” Martin said. “To do our work, we need help from governments, businesses and other organizations. Sofia plays a vital role in networking and building relationships between like-minded individuals and businesses within the travel industry.”
Martin pointed to positive changes that have been achieved, such as extreme poverty has been cut in half since 1990; and child and infant deaths have been cut in half in the past 25 years. “Now is the time to finish the job and not give up. What we’re doing is working, and influencers like Sofia are bringing awareness, renewed excitement, and calls to action.”
Its partnerships like these that make the immense prospect of achieving these goals less daunting. Markovich said: “The best part is that we don't have to work alone. If we join forces and partner, we can get there faster and succeed on each goal. I am committed, both on a personal and professional level, to raise awareness of global issues that impact all countries including the United States.
“We cannot continue to invest 10% and expect 100% back.”
If you would like Sofia to come and speak to your organization/event or you want to learn more about the SDGs and how they impact you, your community and your business, contact Sofia directly at Sofia.Markovich@SofiasTravel.com or visit https://sofiastravel.com/corporate-responsibility.