Sustainable tourism resources

Sustainable tourism and Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been the gold standard for defining and initiating sustainable tourism to the globe since its formation in 1946. 

Through a platform developed by UNWTO, known as Tourism For SDGs, which a user-friendly online website for everyone from the traveller to the public body, all tourism stakeholders can engage with resources and guidelines that aim to assist and empower all tourism entities to work towards the universal  United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The 17 SDGs were established in 2015 by the United Nations, designed as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” by 2030, interlinked goals for sustainable development. 

For each tourist stakeholder, the Tourism For SDGS website has a downloadable list of recommendations for responsible practices.  For companies, the list of recommendations includes, for example, suggestions on how to acquire “clean water and sanitation” (goal #6) or foster “entrepreneurial culture” through building “decent work and economic conditions” (goal #8). 

By incorporating the SDGs into a business operating framework, businesses can not only direct their operations to become more sustainable but by doing so it may actually provide an edge over competitors.  Focusing on market needs which simultaneously are benefiting social and environmental sectors, may be a strategy to improve overall business performance.

As the UNWTO states, “responsible tourism is an important driving force towards economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability”.  Tourism really can be a powerful concept for change, by empowering less favoured groups such as women is a means by which businesses may support gender equality.  Taking measures to reduce plastic is an example of how stakeholders can reach towards achieving responsible consumption and production (goal #12).  Retrofitting lighting systems with more efficient LED lighting or reducing the internal demand for transport in exchange for meetings via telecommunications are both modes to support Climate Action (goal #13).

Another driver for the SDG visionary is the UN Global Compact, which prompts businesses to be a “force of good” and work together, taking shared responsibility for the future.  To further push companies to take sustainable actions, transparent reports or COP (Communication on Progress) may be submitted by participants to the UN Global Compact, which support the establishment’s commitment and focus towards sustainability.  Worldwide Travel and Tourism is one example of a business in the tourism industry that posts their progress, they just issued their 2021 COP, and through self-assessment identified that they endorsed the principles of the global compact, that they take actions in the areas of human rights, labour and environment and anti- corruptions and that outcomes of such activities are monitored.

Here are a few steps to incorporate more SDGs into your business plan:
  • recognize which SDGs align with your company and consider adopting strategies for implementation
  • reach out to other stakeholders - collaboration may generate a stronger impact!
  • engage in a certification program to measure and monitor practices.

Just acquiring a small change is a positive move in the right direction and may transform your company!

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