14 April 2008

Shaping the path towards sustainable tourism

An international seminar on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the tourism sector concluded today in the United Kingdom after involving 30 high level tourism and environment officials from developing countries and Small Island developing states.

Organised and coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Oxford University's Centre for the Environment (OUCE) jointly with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) this international practical seminar for tourism stakeholders focused on capacity building and pragmatic adaptation and mitigation techniques and methods for developing countries and small island states in order to address the problems and meet the challenges presented by climate change.

The seminar's delegates contributed to and took part in a series of sessions at Oxford University's Balliol College. For three days the participants received high level training and carried out interactive debates including practical ways of integrating the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in the tourism sector.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said:"The tourism industry has a key role to play in confronting the challenges of climate change. Indeed there is now a clear understanding that the industry can be part of the solution to climate change, by reducing its green house gas emissions as well as by helping the communities where tourism represents a major economic source to prepare for and adapt to the changing climate".

"With its close connections to the environment and climate itself, tourism is considered to be a vulnerable and highly climate-sensitive economic sector, similar to agriculture, insurance, energy, and transportation" said Dr. Murray Simpson, a Senior Research Associate at the Oxford's University Centre for the Environment and scientific coordinator of the seminar.

"At the same time, tourism is a contributor to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, including emissions from transport, accommodation and activities. In 2005, tourism's contribution to CO2 emissions was estimated to be approximately 5%. Measured as warming effect these emissions could represent up to 14% of global warming effect"

Source: UNEP

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