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European Travel Commission's Transatlantic Conference

UNWTO calls on tourism leaders to join the green economy

eTN Staff Writer  Jan 26, 2009

NEW YORK, USA / MADRID, Spain - Despite the evolving global recession, there is a real opportunity if world leaders succeed in aligning short-term response to the economic meltdown; medium-term response to the development agenda; and long-term response to the climate imperative. The need for global stimulus should be linked with the transformational potential of a green economy. Tourism can reliably boost the economy in the short to medium term without loosing sight of long-term commitments to the sustainable development agenda. This was the main message delivered by UNWTO assistant secretary-general Geoffrey Lipman, addressing the European Travel Commission's Transatlantic Conference.

A new climate deal is expected to be reached at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of this year. The fundamental intention is to drop green house gas emissions to levels where global warming is tolerable, with clean-energy, focused consumption and production patterns, and with responsibility and benefits shared equitably by all states.

Achieving this will require a whole range of credible policy decisions and concrete measures. These range from country and company carbon targets, cap and trade auctions to intelligent bio-fuel and renewables support, efficient building, smart grid and hybrid vehicle investment, as well as green technology funds, taxes, and fiscal incentives.

UNWTO assistant secretary-general Geoffrey Lipman stressed that, "Tourism has only scratched the surface of our clean, green potential - now it's time to mainstream it," and called on the tourism sector to:

- Get squarely behind the Green New Deal - in industry structures and operations.

- Build the quadruple bottom line into all policies and programs. Adding climate to economic, social, and environment fundamentals in the sustainability equation. This is to be underpinned with a massive ICT expansion and public/private sector collaboration to enhance efficiency.

- Account properly for our impacts ­linking tourism satellite accounting with mainstream green economic and carbon impact measurement.

- Promote our commitment with key audiences. With policymakers - shaping the transformation, putting together short-term, economic-stimulus packages and long-term, development-support funds for climate adaptation, trade strengthening, and technology transfer. And with consumers, suppliers, and destinations linked in the tourism chain.

- Replace talk and lofty statements with action. What we need is committed implementation starting NOW and evolving with the framework to be agreed in Copenhagen a year from now. While the decisions will be taken by states and the execution private sector focused, much of the international underpinning for change is being driven by the UN system, and we are working to ensure that tourism is properly positioned in that framework.

UNWTO's response efforts are being increased in order to provide members and the tourism sector with the necessary tools to be in the position to influence decision makers and to highlight tourism's undisputed potential to help to overcome the current situation.

UNWTO calls on tourism leaders to join the green economy
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