UNWTO highlights climate change

The tourism sector should be brought to the table in the global response to Climate Change, said UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.He was addressing the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mr. Frangialli announced a work programme which will culminate in two major conferences in 2007 - a preparatory sectoral summit in Davos, Switzerland, in September, supported by the Swiss Federal Government, and a Global Ministerial meeting in London, co-organized with the UK Government and World Travel Market, in November.

These meetings will intensify the follow up from the UNWTO Summit on Climate Change and Tourism, held in 2003 in Tunisia, which resulted in the Djerba Declaration and plan of action. “There is now unequivocal proof from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Stern report that climate challenge is real and that we must all play our part in its resolution. Tourism is an important sector of the global economy and a vital link in human communications, cultural interface and development. Like other key sectors, we play a part in the problem and we have to be responsive and responsible as temperatures, sea levels and other climactic conditions evolve. We will work even more closely with UNEP and other sister agencies like the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as the private sector, in exploring new patterns of consumption and conservation, as well as fast track strategies for adaptation”,Mr. Frangialli said.

There will be two overriding considerations for UNWTO, the Secretary-General added. “First, promoting responsible growth of tourism to advance global trade, as well as strengthening the links between people and cultures which foster mutual understanding. This will mean innovative adaptation across the sector using all the tools and technologies as they become available. Second, ensuring that tourism remains a key tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and helping poor nations lift themselves out of the poverty trap. Tourism represents 40% of services exports and the world’s poorest countries have comparative advantage in this area which must be encouraged as a part of responsible climate change strategies.”

UNWTO and UNEP have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a number of ways - most immediately, UNWTO will join the billion tree planting campaign of UNEP and the environment agency will strengthen its support for UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to upbeat the sustainability and climate response components. The organizations will collaborate on the Tourism Climate Change Summits.