Climate Quickie 1: Leveraging Restoration for Net Zero Tourism Worldwide

7 minutes

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which is the United Nations specialized agency charged with promoting sustainable tourism, today unveiled the “Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism” at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) here.

The Declaration commits companies to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, with all residual emissions being absorbed through ecological restoration by 2050 at the latest.

More than 300 stakeholders have signed the declaration, including the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents more than  300 companies responsible for more than 70 percent of global tourism.

“The commitment is to not only reduce the footprint by changing business as usual operations, but also offsetting…through blue carbon, for example,” said UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic in an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace.

“This is going to become, maybe, the new tourism attraction, because it's going to have a value that is more than just the beach.”

She said that the UNWTO is in the process of launching a net- zero tourism fund, with contributions from tourists being matched by tour operators.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili conceded the gains that individual companies have made but stressed the need for a sector-wide effort involving government and international organizations as well.

 “The Glasgow Declaration is a tool to help bridge the gap between good intentions and meaningful climate action,” he said.

Urosevic described an ambitious strategy for using tourism to promote regeneration, especially of coral reefs, but stressed the need to hold the sector accountable.

That's the ambition, but we're not there yet and we need your help,” she said.

“We need everyone’s help,” she added.

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