The UNWTO reports that Ministers of the Environment from across the Pan European region have agreed to promote the transformation of tourism, with key initiatives of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme to serve as their guiding principles.
At the conclusion of the Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and held in Nicosia, Cyprus, delegates adopted a Ministerial Declaration, recognising the urgent need to ensure the tourism sector “builds back better” from the impacts of the pandemic.
Central to this will be accelerating the shift towards a circular tourism economy, while at the same time reducing waste and ensuring the sector meets its climate action responsibilities.
The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, launched by UNWTO and partners at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, a joint initiative from UNWTO and UNEP were both referenced as key initiatives to help guide the transformation of the sector. The One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme co-hosted with UNEP and its Mediterranean Action Plan a side event on “Tourism and Circularity for Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean”, where a new repository of tools and resources focused on the circular economy and tourism was launched, alongside two new publications from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative around measurement and procurement produced with the financial support of the Government of France.
Addressing the Ministerial Conference, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “For businesses, the circular economy can bring competitive advantages. For destinations, it can build more inclusive local value chains. And for tourists, it’s an opportunity to leave a positive footprint. I encourage Europe’s Environment Ministers to build synergies with their counterparts in Ministries of Tourism to implement the circular economy in the tourism sector.”
Also speaking to the Ministerial Conference, Mario Šiljeg State Secretary for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Croatia, emphasised the importance of tourism to European economies and highlighted the significant benefits of “embracing innovative approaches, particularly moving away from traditional value chain relations adopting more systemic circular production and consumption patterns”.