Tourism contributes to the Millennium Development Goals


MADRID, Spain – With only five years left until the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations has launched the MDG Report 2010 calling for accelerated progress to reach the 2015 deadline. As the UN Specialized Agency for Tourism, UNWTO is firmly committed to fostering the tourism sector’s contribution to development.

Tourism accounts for 45 percent of the exports of services of least-developed countries and is a major job generator for many of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Indeed, in 2009, emerging economies received 410 million international tourism arrivals, a 47 percent share of the global total, and US$306 billion in international tourism receipts, 36 percent of the global total. As such, the industry can play a significant role in the achievement of the MDGs, in particular MDG 1 – Eradication of Poverty, MDG 3 – Gender Equality, MDG 7 – Environmental Sustainability, and MDG 8 – Global Partnerships for Development.

Maximizing tourism’s contribution as a main driver of economic growth and development, UNWTO is currently implementing numerous programs to reduce poverty, fight gender inequality, and foster sustainable development. The Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) is UNWTO’s long-term program aimed at reducing poverty through developing and promoting sustainable forms of tourism. To date, UNWTO has implemented over 90 ST-EP projects in 31 countries. UNWTO is also actively involved in several projects funded by the MDG Achievement Fund, an international cooperation mechanism financed by the government of Spain to speed up progress towards the goals. The projects focus on areas such as the promotion of rural tourism to alleviate rural poverty and supporting the development of small tourism businesses.

UNWTO is also actively promoting sustainable tourism, one that makes optimal use of environmental resources, maintains essential ecological processes, and conserves natural heritage and biodiversity, in the pursuit of MDG 7 – Environmental Sustainability. This year in particular, within the framework of the UN International Year for Biodiversity, World Tourism Day 2010 (WTD) will take place under the theme “Tourism and Biodiversity” (China, September 27). Highlighting tourism’s role in conserving biodiversity, WTD also raises awareness of how continued biodiversity loss hampers efforts to meet other MDGS, especially those related to poverty, hunger, and health.

To achieve MDG 8 – Global Partnership – UNWTO is calling for increased dedication to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a vital means in ensuring the sector addresses the MDGs by setting ground for the development of a greener, more competitive, and responsible tourism industry. In partnership with the UN Global Compact, the largest corporate responsibility initiative in the world, UNWTO is developing TOURPACT.GC, a framework for creating closer links between the public and private sectors and driving CSR in the tourism industry.

As the lead UN agency in Spain, UNWTO hosted the official presentation of the MDG Report in Spain to members of the media, various UN agencies, and Spanish NGOs at its headquarters in Madrid. The MDG Report 2010 comes just months before world leaders gather at UN Headquarters (New York, September 20-22) to reaffirm their commitment to the MDGs and generate renewed momentum for the next five years.


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