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UN tourism agency meets to build support on climate change

UN tourism agency meets to build support on climate change

More than 100 government ministers are meeting today in London at a United Nations-organized tourism summit to consider ratifying a declaration on climate change that has been recommended by environmental experts.

The so-called Davos Declaration, reached last month in the Swiss town of the same name, urges the tourism industry to “rapidly respond to climate change, within the evolving UN framework, if it is to grow in a sustainable manner.”

The declaration also stresses the role that tourism can play in tackling climate change to help promote both sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the series of ambitious anti-poverty targets that world leaders have committed to try to achieve by 2015.

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

Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is hosting today’s ministerial summit, said “tourism is a central part of our society, our economic progress and our contribution to the war on poverty.”

Mr. Frangialli added that today’s meeting is designed to “put a ministerial seal on the Davos Declaration” and ensure that the tourism industry is at the leading edge of global efforts to combat the effects of climate change.

The Davos Declaration will form a key part of the UNWTO’s submission to next month’s UN-organized summit in Bali, Indonesia, on how to deal with global warming. That 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.