International agencies launch sustainable tourism programme

Programme to focus on resource efficiency, conservation and new technologies

By Priyanka Singh
Published: Friday 07 November 2014

Photo courtesy: UNEP

A new international programme to boost sustainable tourism over the next decade was launched on Thursday at the World Travel Market in London.
The Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) will be led by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the governments of France, the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Morocco, with the support of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The programme aims to improve resource efficiency, management effectiveness, and the use of new technologies to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns in this key sector.

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. “As tourism continues to grow, so too will the pressures on the environment and wildlife. Without proper management and protection, as well as investments in greening the sector, ecosystems and thousands of magnificent species will suffer,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, according to a UNEP press release.

In the absence of sustainable management, tourism can deplete natural resources leading to water shortages, loss of biodiversity, land degradation and contribute to climate change and pollution. Tourism's contribution to global warming is estimated at 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

UNEP’s 2011 Green Economy Report reveals that under a “business-as-usual” scenario, projected tourism growth rates till 2050 will result in increases in energy consumption by 154 per cent, greenhouse gas emissions by 131 per cent, water consumption by 152 per cent, and solid waste disposal by 251 per cent.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, "As the leading organisation for tourism, the World Tourism Organization seeks to maximize tourism's contribution to development while minimizing its negative impacts."

For example, in the Galapagos Islands and Palau, visitors pay an entry tax to protected areas, which are sometimes referred to as “green fees”. The revenues generated from these fees are used to support conservation and sustainable human development.

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