Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 9, 2009

Climate Change and Travel and Tourism: The United Nations World Tourism Organization Perspective

headphonesymbol50… with Marcelo Risi, United Nations World Travel Organization Media Relations Officer

At the Congress, economist Marcelo Risi clearly presented the facts and challenged his listeners, all members of the tourism sector, to go far beyond what they may have envisioned was necessary.

Emphasizing the comprehensive global, social, and corporate responsibilities to “adapt, mitigate, and facilitate,” he also clearly made the case that “The weakest need help. We cannot make the poor countries pay who contributed the least to global warming and for the past excesses that have been done by other countries.” He also reiterated that if we continue in the mode of business as usual with no change in tourism activities and behaviour, a global temperature increase of between two and six per cent is forecast in the next century.

At the same time, Risi also emphasized the crucial role of the tourism sector in terms of global economic growth — five per cent annually. Currently five to 10 million people travel daily either for business or for leisure. And as the UNWTO’s statistics show, the global travel and tourism industry is in good shape in the sense that in the year 2007 there were 900 million “arrivals” internationally. By 2020, it is predicted that there will be 1.6 billion international travellers.

And travel is indeed a growth industry that can help emerging and developing countries for which it is a crucial revenue development source. So, according to Risi, we must also look upon this as an opportunity; but at the same time all participants in the global travel and tourism industry must understand and communicate clearly the need for “mitigation scenarios” and changing travel habits. Targets must be real and not just public relations “instruments”; fostering sustainable development and reducing poverty by 50 per cent by the year 2015 are the immediate overall pillars of the UNWTO’s long-term strategy.

Making reference to the “victim-vector” paradigm, Risi points out that like patients who have contracted infectious diseases, the tourism industry is both a victim of climate change but also the transmitter of the “disease”. Climate change is both a local and global-exponential issue. It is bad for business. Adapting to and mitigating climate change requires a change in the cultural process at the core of the industry. It is also the responsibility of governments, non-governmental organizations (of which there are many), private stakeholders, and consumers.


To visit the website of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), click here.

To learn more about the organization’s program for “Sustainable Development of Tourism” including policy guidelines, and tools; destination-specific activities; cultural, social, and ethical aspects, and other global initiatives click here.

To read the Davos report that Marcelo refers to click here.

For a solutions-based perspective visit the UNWTO’s Climate Solutions website.


See also:

Climate Change and Travel and Tourism: the St. Moritz Sustainable Model

Climate Change and Travel and Tourism: A Changing World Culture

Climate Change and Travel and Tourism: A New Approach to Thinking and Acting

The Slovenia Tourist Farms: Integrated, Authentic, and Land-based Tourism


Madrid, 4 November. 2008

Dear industry partner,

During this period of global economic uncertainty and amidst the growing concerns over the impact of climate change, there has never been a more opportune time to focus on promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in the tourism industry.

On behalf of the project partners, UNWTO invites you to attend:


Official Project Launch

World Travel Market (WTM) London

North Gallery Rooms 6 & 7 Wednesday 12 November 2008 – 15.30 – 17.00 hrs

About the Project

EETI: Energy Efficiency for the Tourism Industry is a comprehensive project that will develop energy efficiency solutions for small and medium enterprises (SME’s) in the hotel sector across 27 European Union countries, and co-funded by the European Union.

The EETI project will build a user-friendly toolkit on energy efficiency and renewable energy and will feature a benchmarking system assessing energy use and a least-cost planning methodology. Through the promotion and use of this toolkit, EETI aims to directly influence SME hotels’ management actions and investment decisions on energy usage.

The potential impact of this project is significant; of the 5.45 million hotel rooms in Europe – almost half of the world total – SME’s account for approximately 90%.

Within participating SME hotels across 27 EU countries, the EETI Project aims to achieve:

• 20% increase in energy efficiency
• 10% increase in usage of renewable energy technologies

How you can become involved

The Project offers active industry involvement throughout all of its stages, including the research stage, pilot program and the implementation throughout 2009-2010. As an industry stakeholder, there will be many opportunities for you to take part in EETI, with potential benefits including:

• Increased profitability of your business through cutting energy usage
• Heightened level of corporate competitiveness
• Enhanced positioning through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
• Networking and partnership opportunities with some of the industry’s leading organisations
• Invitation to events with manufacturers and technology providers

Join us at the official launch of EETI at WTM to hear more about how you can become involved in this exciting project directly from its founders. Please register your participation online here and forward this invitation to any of your colleagues or other interested parties.

We look forward to seeing you on the 12th!

Kind regards, Geoffrey Lipman Assistant Secretary-General UNWTO

In October 2008, the World Federation of Journalists and Travel Writers (FIJET) held its annual World Congress in Slovenia. Climate change was a focal issue of the event.



  1. […] 1. The United Nations World Tourism Organization Perspective […]

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