MADRID, SPAIN, 22 FEBRUARY 2011
Increased investment in sustainable tourism can boost the sector’s contribution to economic growth, development and particularly job creation, while at the same time addressing major environmental challenges, according to the just released United Nations Green Economy Report.
Produced in partnership with UNWTO, the tourism chapter of the United Nations Environment Programme-led (UNEP) Green Economy Report demonstrates how investing in environmentally-friendly tourism can drive economic growth, lead to poverty reduction and job creation, while improving resource efficiency and minimizing environmental degradation.
Tourism is one of the most promising drivers of growth for the world economy, according to the report, but its development is accompanied by sustainability-related challenges. An investment of 0.2.% of global GDP (US$ 135 billion at current levels of GDP) per year between now and 2050 would allow the tourism sector to continue to grow steadily over the coming decades, contributing to much-needed economic growth, employment and development while ensuring significant environmental benefits such as reductions in water consumption (18%), energy use (44%) and CO2 emissions (52%) compared with a “business-as-usual” scenario, says the report.
“The conclusions of this report corroborate what we at UNWTO have long been advocating for – that the tourism sector can be a lead change agent in the transformation to the Green Economy,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “This is a landmark report. Advancing the sustainable agenda in tourism will allow the sector to strengthen its capacity to continue generating growth and creating jobs worldwide”.
To mobilize and maximize this tourism investment, the report calls for better access to tools
and financing for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises, in particular from governments and international organizations through public-private partnerships. Public policies and support such as subsidies to encourage private investment in green tourism would provide the conditions for the further development of sustainable tourism. Destination planning and development strategies are considered as the first step towards the greening of tourism.
This move towards more sustainable tourism would create additional employment and revenue in local communities; respond to changing consumer demands for a more sustainable travel experience; increase competitiveness and significantly reduce operating costs for tourism businesses.
Note to editors:
The Green Economy is defined in the report as “an economy that results in improved human well being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.
The UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative (GEI), launched in late 2008, aims to put forward strong and convincing evidence in support of the transition to a Green Economy – one that is dominated by investment in and consumption of environmentally enhancing goods and services. Among the main GEI activities, the Green Economy Report uses macroeconomic analysis to demonstrate that greening the economy across a range of sectors, such as tourism, can drive economic growth and job creation, while tackling social inequalities and environmental challenges.