Impact Report | 2022-2023
Protecting the world's wild places
We are excited to share our 2022-2023 Impact Report, which marks the first comprehensive review of our company’s purpose, vision and values. In addition to outlining our commitment to sustainability and our vision to be the global leader in sustainable expedition travel, it also showcases the many initiatives we are involved in to care for our extraordinary planet.
Why have we created this Impact Report?
As a business, the process of creating this report has been invaluable. It has helped us to identify areas requiring improvement, challenged us to think deeply about the kind of business we want to be and has allowed us to recognise and celebrate the outstanding efforts of employees who work tirelessly to embed sustainability across all business operations and activities.
However, the main reason was to make our business operations and initiatives transparent, to make us accountable to our biggest stakeholders – you. We hope you gain valuable insights from this Impact Report, learn more about AE Expeditions, understand where we are on our sustainability journey and are inspired to become an ambassador for the wild places we visit.
The time to act on climate change is now!
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Adopted by the United Nations in SDGs are a series of 17 goals designed to improve health and education, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, tackle climate change and regenerate our oceans and lands. They are a global call-to-action for all countries and businesses to make powerful public commitments to sustainability. We have identified seven key areas to focus on.
- Quality Education
- Decent Work & Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
- Responsible Consumption & Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Partnerships For The Goals
To learn more about these SDGs, click below.
Discover how we are protecting the world's wild places
Our first Impact Peport reviews our program initiatives through the key focus areas of ‘Planet’ and ‘People’. Dive into our key initiatives below.
100% Climate Neutral
In 2021, we responded to the urgent call for climate action by achieving a Climate Neutral company certification from leading climate experts, South Pole. This certification involves measuring Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, compensating for all direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implementing an emissions reduction plan in line with Science Based Targets. We purchase verified carbon credits from climate action projects, such as Infravest Tongan Wind Farm in Taiwan and Mount Sandy in Australia. We are committed to maintaining our Climate Neutral certification while we seek to decarbonise our operations.
Education & Enrichment
Our mission is to turn everyone who travels with us into a lifelong ambassador for the planet. To facilitate a greater understanding of the polar regions and the need to protect them, we encourage expeditioners to participate in data collection projects for the scientific community in our Citizen Science Program. From taking identification photographs of whales to counting seabirds to testing for micro plastics on shore excursions, our participative program is a great opportunity for expeditioners to help collect high-quality data and make a real difference while they are in some of the most remote places in the world.
Emission Reduction Strategies
Over the last three years, we have transitioned to operating two new innovative and state-of-the-art ships that feature more sustainable technologies and designs. We were the first to use Ulstein’s X-BOW® design on an expedition passenger ship. This innovative design enables ships to reduce impact, slamming and wave-induced vibrations, leading to lower speed loss and acceleration levels, better fuel efficiency and a reduction in atmospheric emissions. Both vessels are equipped with technology that enables them to use shore-based power while in port, reducing fuel consumption and even allowing us to tap into renewable energy when available. We also reuse heat from the engines’ coolant and exhaust systems to provide heating to cabins and warm onboard water tanks. To reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, we utilise Wärtsilä’s NOx Reducer system, which uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to break down NOx and contributes to better air quality.
Honouring Female Conservationists
Historically, women have made extraordinary contributions to science but not always received due recognition. Our Women in Conservation Champions Program is the dedication of our new ship, the Sylvia Earle, to women conservationists. In a world-first initiative, each of its public decks is named after pioneering women, with a curated gallery experience shining a light on their achievements and environmental causes. The ship’s namesake is Dr. Sylvia Earle, Time Magazine’s first ‘Hero of the Planet’ and Chairman of Mission Blue, an inspirational organisation that inspires action to explore and protect the ocean through the creation of protected ‘Hope Spots. Other women honoured include: Hanoi Prinsloo, Freediver and Ocean Conservationist; Dr. Asha de Vos, Marine Biologist and Ocean Educator; Bernadette Demientieff, Arctic Wildlife Guardian; D. Carden Wallace AM, Coral Conservation Champion; Joanna Ruxton, Plastic-Free Pioneer; and Sharon Kwok, Future Generation Educator.
Waste Reduction & Water Management
Water and waste management are managed per the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL). We take our responsibilities here very seriously. Both onboard and and in the places we visit, we ensure that all waste and water is handled, treated and disposed of in the correct manner and in strict accordance with MARPOL requirements. We have dramatically reduced the use of single-use plastics in our operations, and continue to make improvements. For example, we offer refillable water bottles to passengers, with water-refilling stations fitted across our vessels, and use eco-certified cleaning products, which are sourced in bulk and stored in reusable containers.
The Aurora Team
AE Expeditions is made up of individuals that align with our purpose and values. This includes our Expedition Team, who sees first-hand the impact of climate change on the regions we visit. For many staff, our leading sustainability initiatives are one of the key reasons they choose to work for Aurora. As a global expedition company, we seek to create a diverse workforce that represents the people of the world. Within the extended Aurora extended family, 16 languages are spoken. Plus, we are proud to have leading representation of women in our workforce, with 61% of roles across our global operations and Expedition Team filled by women.
We have a commitment to protect and conserve the delicate ecosystems, local communities and cultural heritage of the places we visit. We place utmost consideration on safety while ensuring our passengers and staff adhere to all local requirements, which include a range of measures to minimise our impact on the environment and promote responsible travel. One significant technology we have implemented is a dynamic anchoring system that allows us to remain in a set position without dropping anchor, helping us to mitigate environmental impacts in areas with fragile seabeds. We are committed to continually assessing and improving our practices and exploring alternative technologies while ensuring safe and responsible operations.
We value a collaborative approach to sustainability by building and strengthening partnerships that align with our purpose and values. We are proud and long-standing membersof the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). These organisations advocate for safe and environmentally responsible travel in the polar regions. However, our mission isn’t just to participate in climate change initiatives – we also lead them! We work closely with the Ocean Geographic Society (OGS) on various projects, notably our recent Antarctic Climate Expedition (ACE) in February 2023, where we partnered to take change-makers to Antarctica on a world-first expedition to raise awareness about our warming climate and formulate Climate Resolutions. We are proud to have partnered with Upschool, an Australian start-up education platform, to develop two free courses for teachers and children across the globe: ‘It Starts with You’ for the Arctic and ‘The Power of One’ for Antarctica.
Clean Up Initiatives
We participate in Clean Up Svalbard and Clean Up Iceland, two AECO initiatives aimed at clearing the coastline of these regions of marine debris. Our clean-up efforts extend to our headquarters in Sydney and global remote teams with Clean Up for Sarah, an initiative that honours Sarah Auffret, a beloved environmental warrior, polar guide and expedition leader. We also participate in Take 3’s CEO Clean Up, and have contributed to more than 56,000 pieces of rubbish being removed from the environment in Sydney. Our clean-up initiatives aim to do more than remove litter from our local environments. Our goal is to promote environmental awareness, bring greater attention to the importance of keeping our oceans and lands clean, and inspire meaningful action towards a more sustainable future.
We are committed to continuously learning, advancing and improving our technology, operations, and activities and staying true to our purpose and values. We look forward to sharing more of our learnings, progress and achievements with you in the years to come. Find out more about what sustainability looks like for us below.