Now that the world hasn't ended with a massive Mayan explosion (phewww), we at JG Black Book have high hopes for the future of a beautiful, green world fostered by sustainable travel. Guiding our pack is JG Black Book partner and Bodhi Tree Foundation board member Jalsa Urubshurow, who was recently honored for his contribution to "I Am Eco-Warrior", a collection of over 53 conversations with innovative leaders from finance to fashion fighting to save the environment.
Founder of Nomadic Expeditions and the Three Camel Lodge, Jalsa has been named the world's "Top Travel Specialist" for Mongolia by Conde Nast and his property, Three Camel Lodge, was named "One of the Top 50 Eco-Lodges" by National Geographic. Alongside Jane Goodall, Mayor Bloomberg, and Sir Richard Branson, eco-warrior Jalsa Urubshurow describes what it takes to join the revolution in this exquisite compilation by Roger Moenks:
I Am Eco-Warrior: Is Mongolia's nomadic lifestyle in sync with sustainability?
Jalsa Urubshurow: I can't think of a greener existence than the pastoral nomads of Mongolia. It's probably one of the largest nomadic-based populations still in existence- out of a 2.8 million, probably 20%-30% still live a nomadic existence. They live off the earth, they herd their livestock, and they live in a traditional Mongolian home called a ger, what we in the West call a yurt. They move their homes two or three times a year according to the season and the needs of their herd. It's truly a green existence.
IAEW: How do you balance sustainability and luxury?
JU: Mongolia is the second largest producer of cashmere in the world and obviously cashmere is quiet a luxurious product, so that's something we use that also supports the local economy. Also, our company is run entirely by Mongolians- our office in the US is staffed by Mongolians, as is our operation in Mongolia.I always felt that Mongolians were the best qualified to share the beauties of their country with others.
JU:...When it comes to the Three Camel Lodge, we feel we can become a model for other best practices within the country…Instead of the old style of barracks, our lodge is built so that main buildings look like ancient temples-a classic Mongolian design with no nails. We even made the clay tiles for the roof-right down to the molds. And all of the lodges were situated in such a way that they did not disturb the natural terrain, the flow of the water, or the drainage. We also sited the lodge near what at the time was one of the poorest communities in Mongolia, and we registered our company locally so there would be direct financial input from us. As a result, we became the largest taxpayer in the township, in the process rebuilding a defunct well that had Soviet pumps and a generator that probably hadn't been operational for well over a decade. We rebuilt that well to share with local herdsmen, so it's not uncommon when you visit our lodge to see a local herder with a hundred camels or sheep or goats coming to water, because we built extra troughs for them.
Thank you for playing the role and playing it so well, Jalsa!
-the JG Black Book team