Our ethical values influence everything we do here at GoEco. Our goal is to provide opportunities for volunteers to contribute to meaningful projects that have a positive local and global impact in a way that also benefits the volunteers themselves.
We carefully research and measure all volunteer programs and the organizations we partner with, making sure to select only those that are directly aligned with our vision and goals. You can feel confident that all of the programs we offer uphold the following core ethical values.
Your safety is our top priority! At GoEco we pride ourselves on the safety measures in place to protect our volunteers.
Many of our programs are located in exotic locations and carry out risk assessments in order to evaluate and avoid potential hazards before they happen.
Additionally, we offer 24/7 support through both our local, on-site teams and our 24-hour emergency support phone line. All of our local program coordinators are fully trained and ready to provide assistance at any time. Country-specific safety tips can be found in our pre-departure documents, which are sent to volunteers once they have been confirmed on a placement.
With the exception of those programs designed specifically for volunteers aged 15-17, we do not accept solo travelers who are under the age of 16. Volunteers on these specific teen programs are carefully supervised by the local team. Volunteers aged 16 -17, can be accepted to many of our other projects, but only with parental consent. In this case, they commit to managing themselves in a responsible and mature manner.
Child Protection Policy
Volunteering with children is a sensitive ethical issue in international development. Because we are very conscious of the concerns people have regarding the participation of volunteers in projects involving children, we have created a child protection policy that is central to these programs.
For every one of our programs that involves working with children or other vulnerable communities, police clearance is required from all participants. Protecting the children who are on the receiving end of our volunteer programs is our duty. We only work with partners who hold volunteers and staff members to the same requirements and standards. Each of these programs is carefully monitored by local staff to ensure full compliance.
The pre-departure documents that we send to the volunteers before arrival include the rules of conduct that they must follow in order to participate. Comprehension and adherence to these rules are not only crucial for joining a program, but the knowledge gained from them remains of value long after completion of the program – we believe in equipping volunteers with this vital information for life, not just the duration of their program.
Wildlife Protection Policy
Conservation and protection of wildlife is a deep passion of ours, so we provide opportunities for well-meaning volunteers to get involved with animals in an ethical manner while supporting our conservation goals.
Today, it is common knowledge that volunteer programs make huge contributions to conservation efforts. At the same time, and sadly, exotic wildlife is sometimes exploited in the name of tourism – including in places that also welcome volunteers. This is where we step in; we do not support the abuse of any animal for any purpose, nor do we support or promote any program in which the animals are in uncomfortable living arrangements or treated inhumanely.
We go to great lengths to select and monitor wildlife programs very carefully. We make frequent visits to the projects to ensure that they continue to align with our goals and values. GoEco only works with sanctuaries that provide resident animals with the best life possible. We ensure that our programs are not involved in illegal trafficking, canned hunting or any related illegal and immoral activities.
There may be opportunities on certain projects for our volunteers to have hands-on interaction with some animals, but we cannot guarantee this. Direct contact with animals occurs only when it is necessary or beneficial for the animals.
For example, GoEco offers many wildlife programs whose aim is to rehabilitate and then release these animals back into the wild. However, select wildlife sanctuaries care for animals that were raised by humans. Often times these animals have been kept as pets or used for illegal trading, and unfortunately, they cannot be released back into the wild for behavioral reasons. These animals are accustomed to human contact and volunteers may touch them during hand-feedings or medicine distribution. These opportunities are based on the availability, safety, and well-being of these ambassador animals and will be at the discretion and under the supervision of the sanctuary staff. We strongly oppose the inhumane treatment of wildlife and actively monitor our partners to ensure compliance with ethical treatment regulations.
All of our projects are driven by a long-term vision. We handpick partners who share our vision of sustainability and whose programs work towards achieving long-term goals that make a real difference.
GoEco does not work with any organization or program that does not contribute to a long-term positive objective. Every program that we promote addresses a genuine need, whether it is the conservation of an animal species, the necessary construction of community buildings, or the teaching of English to non-native speakers to help them excel in their academic endeavors.
We also firmly believe in the importance of cultural immersion and exchange. Homestays with local families are offered on several of our programs, which encourage volunteers to become invested in the success of the communities in which they are volunteering.
Program Monitoring and Evaluation
A vision is simply not enough. We work hard to ensure that we are meeting our long-term, sustainable goals, step-by-step. In order to do this, we carefully monitor all of our programs to make sure that we are having a positive impact on wildlife and the local communities where we work. We also continually evaluate the contributions our volunteers are making. We make every effort to place them where needed most and provide them with relevant skills and experience that is vital for their personal journeys in the process.
Our wildlife programs, for instance, each have trained staff on-site who supervise volunteers. They help us to make sure our volunteer programs are having the intended benefit. We also collect data from our wildlife partners, recording details such as the progress of the animals in rehabilitation, or the number of releases from the rehabilitation programs. Our research-based programs produce vital data that has been published in global research surveys and databases.
We’re careful to place our volunteers where they can make the biggest impact and reap the greatest reward. For example, our medical programs each have minimum requirements to participate, including relevant studies and proof of qualifications. Medical volunteers are assigned only to those tasks which they are qualified to perform. This ensures a positive outcome for all involved.
We aim to have a meaningful and substantial impact on the communities and programs in which we work.
Our contributions can be measured on two levels:
1. GoEco is the first volunteer tourism company in the world to apply the “Ecological Footprint” (EF) methodology to assess the sustainability of our volunteer tourism programs. The EF model is the best way to measure the full sustainable cycle of a tourist from their departure until their return home.
2. GoEco partners with organizations around the globe that produce quarterly reports, including achievements on the ground and research updates. Our partners inform us of their sustainable goals and how these goals are being realized by volunteers. For example, our community aid programs provide us with statistics measuring the number of children who have improved their English skills, learned to swim or have achieved a personal goal. Similarly, our rehabilitative wildlife programs track the number of animals they have rescued, rehabilitated and/or released.
We take great pride in our humble impact on the environment:
Having said that, we believe our principal purpose is to enrich the eco-education of our volunteers, by giving them a hands-on, firsthand understanding of the burning environmental issues.
Why? We realized that buzz words such as global warming, climate crisis, climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, sustainability, etc. can be overwhelming. This wrongfully leads people to believe that these issues are too big for them to influence, and instead, they move on with their daily lives. It can also cause panic and anxiety that the world is coming to an end.
We understand that seeing firsthand (rather than on TV) the impact of these environmental challenges upon many communities, ecosystems, and wildlife is key to solving these issues. Contributing to mission-driven programs enables better understanding, engages people further and creates passionate ambassadors for this agenda. In that way, we see our experiences as the next step beyond the awareness created by the many YouTube videos, social media stories and National Geographic specials out there, as a concrete way to impact both present and future reality.