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To sustain growth, tourism sector must take action against climate change – UN

To sustain growth, tourism sector must take action against climate change – UN

The tourism industry must meet the challenges posed by climate change if it is to continue its growth, a United Nations-backed conference announced today.

According to the Davos Declaration, reached at the conclusion of a three-day meeting in the Swiss town, “the tourism sector must rapidly respond to climate change, within the evolving UN framework, if it is to grow in a sustainable manner.”

Additionally, it stressed the role tourism can play in addressing climate change to promote both sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight ambitious targets to slash poverty and other social and economic ills by 2015.

The second International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism was organized by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and was supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Swiss Government.

“We know that the solutions for climate change and for poverty are interrelated,” said UNWTO Assistant Secretary-General Geoffrey Lipman. “We leave Davos more optimistic about our future on the common agreement to build upon [the] quadruple bottom line sustainability of economic, social, environmental and climate responsiveness.”

At Davos, he added, the entire tourism sector pledged to contribute to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s global road map for the major climate change meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

This meeting seeks to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol – the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – in 2012.

Participants at the Davos meeting have concluded that the tourism sector must lessen its greenhouse gas emissions, derived from transport and accommodation activities; adapt tourism businesses and destinations to alter their practices; utilize technology to bolster energy efficiency; and obtain financial resources to assist poor regions and countries.

Stefanos Fotiou, who heads UNEP’s Tourism Unit, underscored the extremely important and positive role tourism can play in tackling the main issues the world faces today.

The tourism industry is “challenged by climate change and at the same time is not an insignificant contribute to greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “The Conference has also demonstrated that, through a more intelligent and better managed development trajectory, tourism can assist in combating poverty in developing countries, in reducing its own carbon footprint and make a contribution to the conservation of natural and nature-based resources.”

Together, the Davos Declaration and the results of the meeting will form the basis of the UNWTO Minister’s Summit on Tourism and Climate Change to be held in London on 13 November, and will also be presented at the Bali conference.