• Sabi Sabi

    Photo credit by Sabi Sabi Game Reseve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

  • Tswalu

    Photo credit by Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • IMG_3851

    Photo credit by !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre, Western Cape, South Africa

  • Amakhala

    Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Tourism can help meet Biodiversity Targets, UNWTO says

Copyright: Theodore Kourelis

UNWTO has called on delegates attending the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, to recognize tourism’s role in safeguarding biodiversity as they shape and agree on a global strategy to save the world’s ecosystems . As part of the decisions adopted by the Parties, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will continue collaboration with UNWTO, including a review of the implementation of the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.

A UNWTO side-event, ‘Tourism and Biodiversity: how to achieve common goals towards sustainability’, held during the meeting, advocated for the inclusion of tourism in the COP agenda and national policies as a driver of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development (27 October 2010). In particular, the event officially presented the UNWTO Recommendations to COP10 calling on the Parties to take note of the opportunities inherent in sustainable tourism for implementing the objectives of the CBD.

As a key source of income and employment, tourism makes a valuable contribution to socio-economic growth, particularly in developing countries where the largest proportion of global biodiversity is concentrated. As a result, the sector provides strong incentives for the protection of biodiversity, generates significant revenues for conservation and community development and helps raise awareness of biodiversity issues. According to the UNWTO Recommendations, a better understanding of the link between tourism, biodiversity and poverty alleviation will maximize benefits for all three areas.

The UNWTO Recommendations further outline the main conclusions emerging from the 2010 World Tourism Day celebrations, held under the theme ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’, to coincide with the UN International Year of Biodiversity. The conclusions underscore the need for the global tourism sector – as one of the world’s leading economic activities – to assume a collective responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In particular, public and private tourism stakeholders must work within their respective ambits to implement global biodiversity targets and the involvement of local communities must be maximized to develop tourism in a sustainable manner.

The UNWTO event at COP10 also included an interactive panel, with the participation of tourism and biodiversity representatives, highlighting the links between biodiversity and tourism, the contribution of the public and private tourism sector to biodiversity, as well as the relevant work being undertaken by UNWTO.

At COP10, Parties and their partners met to negotiate a new strategic plan on biodiversity for the period 2011-2020, with a biodiversity vision for 2050. The UNWTO side-event represents the first time UNWTO has been officially represented at a Conference of Parties to the CBD, although the Organization has long accounted for biological diversity issues in its programme of work and has been collaborating with the CBD since 2002.

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