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Climate Smart Commitment: 2020–21 Portfolio Annual Report

$500,000 Invested in 10 Organizations

In late 2019, Rick Steves' Europe launched our Climate Smart Commitment — a program designed to pay back the environmental debt created by our travelers flying to Europe to join our bus tours. Our goal: to creatively mitigate our carbon footprint by smartly investing a self-imposed carbon tax of $30 per tour member per year. We use these funds to support organizations that fight climate change in two ways: by helping farmers in the poor world employ climate-smart agriculture technology, and by advocating in the halls of government to take the threat of climate change more seriously.

We believe that lasting change requires both hands-on work and advocacy. Climate change hits the poorest people in the poorest countries the hardest. Roughly half of the world’s population is made up of smallholder farmers and their families, and in their desperation to grow enough food, their farming practices also contribute substantially to climate change. Without the US taking a global leadership role, the combined actions of all the world’s nonprofit organizations won’t be enough. That’s why we believe that the US must implement smart policies that acknowledge the link between climate change and hunger (both at home and abroad), and that support the transition to a climate-smart economy.

We're presenting this report to show our travelers (and those who might travel with us in the future) what we accomplished in the past year. Despite canceling all our tours in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic — and earning no revenue — in 2021 we committed $500,000 to our program so that organizations could continue to do great work even in difficult times. And for 2022, after a second year without tour customers, we’ve committed another $500,000. (Even though you could make the case that we shrunk our carbon footprint to near-zero in 2020 and 2021, we couldn’t bear to stop supporting our partner organizations after learning how effectively they invested our $1 million in 2019.)

While climate change and smart development often seem abstract, the organizations in this report are perfect examples of how positive and life-changing action is being realized in faraway places. We are proud to offer those who take our tours the peace-of-mind that our “self-imposed carbon tax” effectively mitigates the carbon they emit to join us in Europe. Together, we're making a difference. It feels good. It’s ethical as a business practice. And it's simply good global citizenship.

This annual report shares what eight of our partner organizations accomplished in 2021. Despite the global pandemic, these organizations persevered, delivered on their missions, and fulfilled their pledge to be transparent with us. They inspire all of us at Rick Steves’ Europe. We hope you enjoy reading about them.

Happy climate-smart travels,

Rick Steves

Learn more about our Climate Smart Commitment.

Agros International

Donation: $100,000
Our donations allowed Agros to continue to expand their agribusiness center in Nicaragua and help more than 500 farming families learn how to use hydroponics, vermicomposting, and reforestation techniques to improve soil conditions, increase their yields, produce healthier food, help with the reforestation effort, protect water recharge zones, and generate more income. Read more

Bread for the World

Donation: $20,000

Our donations supported Bread for the World (Bread) in their advocacy work in the fight to end hunger. Rick Steves' Europe has been proud to partner with Bread for more than 20 years; in the last several years, in addition to our Climate Smart funding, Rick Steves' Europe raised $1 million annually to support Bread's important work. Read more

Citizens' Climate Education

Donation: $40,000
Our donations helped Citizens' Climate Education (CCE) strengthen their nationwide coalition of climate advocates, create a powerful voice to counter paid lobbyists advocating for the fossil fuel industry, and educate policymakers and the public about smart solutions to climate change. Read more

Food 4 Farmers

Donation: $50,000
Our donations allowed Food 4 Farmers (F4F) to partner with six cooperatives representing over 8,400 coffee-farming families in Latin America and increase their food security. F4F‘s goals: teach climate-smart practices, strengthen local food systems, improve incomes, reduce deforestation, restore local ecosystems, and create a healthier planet. Read more

Global Communities logo

Global Communities

Donation: $75,000
Our donations allowed Global Communities (GC) to plant over 28,200 trees and provide 388 households and 2,328 individuals in the dry western highlands of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty while contributing less to climate change. Read more

Rainforest Action Network

Donation: $40,000
Our donations allow the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to challenge the multinational corporations that use unethically sourced resources and protect the Leuser Ecosystem of Sumatra, Indonesia, from deforestation caused by the illegal expansion of pulpwood and palm oil plantations. Read more

Climate Smart grant recipient Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance

Donation: $30,000
Our donations allowed the Rainforest Alliance (RA) to expand their climate-smart agriculture work in Ghana and provide 2,600 local farmers in 76 communities the climate-smart tools and resources necessary to sustainably produce cocoa, manage their shade trees, and conserve Ghana's forest landscape. Read more

Zeitz Foundation

Donation: $100,000
Our donations allowed the Zeitz Foundation (ZF) to continue implementing its Tree of Life Reforestation Initiative in Laikipia, Kenya. Since the program started, ZF has sourced, germinated, and planted over 250,000 acacia seedlings; built a tree nursery; drilled a borehole for irrigation; and installed a solar pump and other plumbing works to generate up to 40,000 liters of water a day for the land, wildlife, and reforestation effort.  Read more