UNWTO-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change

The need to strengthen the tourism sector’s ability to address climate change took centre stage during the UNWTO-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change.

An examination of tourism related initiatives in Asia and Pacific shows that Asia-Pacific is affected by 90% of global climate-related catastrophes. Responding to the challenges of climate change is thus fundamental to ensure that tourism, a sector which has been identified by a majority of countries as a pillar for socio-economic progress, continues to advance in the region.

“Climate change is real”, said the President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino underscoring the relevance of tourism as “one of the shortest and most efficient paths to inclusive growth”.

The Philippines is mainstreaming

“climate change adaptation with local, sectoral, and national plans – all of which will consequently guide the development of tourism destinations and tourism activities per locality”.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, made a call to position the fight against climate change at the heart of the tourism agenda. “Energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies can reduce operational costs. Resource efficiency not only mitigates and reduces the tourism footprint, but fosters economic growth and creates much needed jobs in the process.”

Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) thanked the participants “for advancing the dialogue on how to address the greatest challenge of our time: climate change, and in particular, how to address climate change in tourism and in policy that promotes tourism as an economic engine”.

The Conference highlighted that climate change mitigation policies should be consistent with the overall challenge it represents, thus requiring a multi-stakeholder approach and taking into account specific technological, economic and social changes.

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Max A. E. Rossberg is an avid WIlderness Advocates with extensive experience in Sustainable Tourism Strategies and Multistakeholder planning processes.

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