Tourism Leaders Call for Urgent Action to Protect the Oceans
Brest, France, 11 February 2022- Tourism’s central role in advancing the Blue Economy was highlighted during a special session at the One Ocean Summit, hosted by the French Presidency this week.
In a session on “Tourism in the Blue Economy” co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and France** and chaired by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), high level representatives stressed how implementing a blue economy can combat the threats of climate change, plastic pollution, and over exploitation of resources. At the same time, the panel, representing Colombia, Kenya, Seychelles and Palau, as well as private sector actors made clear how a stronger focus on sustainability can help deliver more competitive and inclusive tourism activities.
Addressing the Summit, UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic, said: “Tourism is one of the pillars of the Blue Economy and plays a key role in the preservation of oceans by providing financial incentives and mechanisms to protect ecosystems. But we can, and must, do more. As part of the recovery, tourism shall play a key role in the regeneration of coastal and marine ecosystems for resilience, putting people at the center of our efforts.”
Opportunity out of the crises
At present, tourism represents 40% of the blue economy – as the largest share in export value according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Global tourism’s restart and recovery from the impacts of the pandemic represents an opportunity for the sector to support the transformation of coastal and marine destinations towards more sustainable and resilient models that are anchored in ocean protection and responsible use.
Sylvestre Ragedonde, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of the Seychelles said: “The destinies of tourism and the blue economy must be intertwined to make responsible use of the limited resources. Our mother ocean should take a commanding role in tourism strategies. For the Seychelles, the blue economy represents a holistic approach for the tourism sector and local economy.”
Ilana Seid, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations, called on global leaders in a video message to continue the work initiated at the One Ocean Summit by supporting the Our Oceans Conference that will be taking place in Palau in April 2022.
Her intervention is available here.
Private sector transition
Corporate leaders from Accor, ClubMed, Costa Cruises, Iberostar Group, PONANT, TUI Group, and the Blue Climate Initiative joined policy makers in the call to prioritize ocean protection and made bold commitments to address plastic pollution through practical solutions in line with the framework proposed by the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative which supports transitioning to a circular economy of plastics.
Hervé Gastinel, CEO PONANT – “We are happy to announce our commitment to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative with the goal of eliminating single use plastics in our operations by 2022. Following the example of the polar exploration ship Le Commandant Charcot, PONANT is rolling out its "Single use Plastic" objective on all its ships.”
The workshop was moderated by Jorge Laguna-Celis, Head of the One Planet Network and closed with a call to action from Brune Poirson, Director of Sustainable Development of Accor, for tourism stakeholders to join the collective movement around the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and the Glasgow Declaration.
Mr Laguna-Celis said: “The One Planet Network is pleased to partner with the One Ocean Summit to raise ambitious commitments from tourism businesses and governments. The Tourism sector can be a vector of education and prevention of plastics pollution and a source of sustainable recovery from the pandemic and help generate a living income for millions of people.”
**The workshop was organized within the framework of the One Planet Network Sustainable Tourism Programme
The progarmme of the event is available here.
The press release from UNWTO can be consulted here: https://www.unwto.org/news/tourism-leaders-call-for-urgent-action-to-protect-the-oceans