UNWTO Annual Report Highlights Sustainable Tourism’s Contribution to SDGs
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The Chengdu Declaration on Tourism and the SDGs, adopted by the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly, states that tourism is vital for achieving the SDGs, and proposes that countries undertake national assessments on tourism’s contribution and commitment to the SDGs.

The second UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture called for: advancing the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs; encouraging an innovative approach for sustainable urban development through cultural tourism; and exploring links between culture and nature in sustainable tourism.

The year 2017 was the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

June 2018: The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has published its 2017 annual report, highlighting the importance of tourism to achieving the SDGs, as well as SDGs and targets that are particularly relevant to sustainable tourism. The report provides an overview of campaigns and events that took place during 2017, with a focus on sustainable tourism and the SDGs.

The report highlights three SDG targets that mention sustainable tourism, namely: target 8.9, on devising and implementing, by 2030, policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products; target 12.b, on developing and implementing tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism; and target 14.7, on increasing the economic benefits of small island developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

Among the numerous SDGs-related events highlighted in the publication is the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly, which convened in September 2017 in Chengdu, China. The meeting focused on tourism’s contribution to the SDGs, and adopted the Chengdu Declaration on Tourism and the SDGs. The Declaration states that tourism is vital for achieving the SDGs as it can, inter alia, stimulate economic growth, create jobs, combat poverty, enhance livelihoods, empower women and youth, and preserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The Declaration proposes that countries: undertake national assessments on tourism’s contribution and commitment to the SDGs; ensure tourism is included in inter-ministerial SDG commissions and/or working groups; and establish frameworks and mechanisms that enable participation of all stakeholders to enhance the contribution of tourism to national SDG strategies.

The second UNWTO/UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Conference on Tourism and Culture, which convened in December 2017 in Muscat, Oman, focused on fostering sustainable development. The conference adopted the Muscat Declaration, which calls for, inter alia: advancing the contribution of cultural tourism to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs; encouraging an innovative approach for sustainable urban development through cultural tourism; and exploring links between culture and nature in sustainable tourism.

UNWTO’s ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect.’ campaign aims to increase awareness of the role of travelers in harnessing tourism’s contribution to sustainable development.

The sixth Global Summit on Urban Tourism, themed ‘Sustainable and Competitive Tourism on the New Urban Agenda (NUA),’ convened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December 2017. It aimed to advance sustainable and competitive urban tourism, which contributes to the SDGs and the NUA.

A conference on ‘Tourism, a Tool for Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement in Africa,’ met in Lusaka, Zambia, in November 2017. The conference raised awareness regarding tourism’s contribution to poverty alleviation and the ways in which it can help achieve the SDGs and generate benefits for African societies. The Lusaka Declaration, inter alia, calls on African governments to develop and implement tourism policies that contribute to the SDGs; and urges donors, investors and financial institutions to increase investment in sustainable tourism development in Africa.

The Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth convened in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in November 2017 under the theme ‘Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism.’ The conference called on donors to recognize tourism impacts on sustainable development and mobilize resources for tourism development through existing financing mechanisms and new SDG-related facilities, including the UNWTO Tourism for Development Facility.

The fourth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue gathered under the theme ‘Advancing Intercultural Dialogue: New Avenues for Human Security, Peace and Sustainable Development,’ in Baku, Azerbaijan, in May 2017. Participants discussed, inter alia, the conditions under which sustainable tourism can promote cross-cultural understanding and peace in the context of the 2030 Agenda.

The third UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in San Sebastián, Spain, in May 2017, concluded, inter alia, that public and private entities must work together to harness the power of gastronomy tourism to contribute to the SDGs through conserving biodiversity and empowering local communities.

In addition, the report provides an update on the UNWTO/Chimelong Programme on Wildlife and Tourism, which, among others, focuses on advancing the SDGs through sustainable tourism, particularly as it relates to wildlife conservation. It also reviews progress made on the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the ten-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), which, inter alia, continues to accelerate the shift to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in tourism as an implementation mechanism for SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), with the potential to advance other SDGs.

Furthermore, the report notes that 2017 was the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017). As part of IY2017, the UNWTO supported a consumer-oriented campaign, ‘Travel.Enjoy.Respect,’ which will continue through 2018. Among other issues, the campaign aims to increase awareness of the role of travelers in harnessing tourism’s contribution to sustainable development. As part of the campaign, an exhibition at the UN Office in Geneva links each SDG to one of 17 stories of individuals working in tourism around the world.

UNWTO and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) published a report titled, ‘Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030,’ which aims to help the tourism sector contribute to implementation of the SDGs. The report’s findings will be included in the ‘Tourism for SDGs’ interactive web platform, a data center and educational resource to be launched in July 2018. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on ‘Tourism and the SDGs’ Report] [UNWTO Annual Report 2017]


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