The tourism sector is committed to halting and reversing biodiversity loss while promoting environmental conservation and restoration. It seeks to enhance people's well- being, livelihoods and economies, leveraging tourism's unique potential as an agent for positive change.
Biodiversity is vital for tourism and a healthy environment is a critical factor for the competitiveness of the tourism sector. The conservation efforts of many destinations depend largely on tourism revenues. Coasts, mountains, rivers, and forests are major attractions for tourists around the world. Biodiversity lies at the heart of nature-based tourism products – such as wildlife watching, scuba diving or tourism in protected areas Tourism connects people with nature, it can foster environmental responsibility and conservation if pursued sustainably.
Over the years, UNWTO has actively addressed biodiversity issues at various levels and contributed to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s works. It has also participated in the CBD's discussions on tourism and biodiversity for various Conferences of the Parties (COPs), Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development. In 2004, the CBD Secretariat published the Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development, followed by the Tourism for Nature and Development: A Good Practice Guide in 2009, Tourism for Nature and Development: A Good Practice Guide to which UNWTO contributed.
In 2010, in the context of the International Year of Biodiversity and the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the CBD, UNWTO prepared the publication Biodiversity, Achieving Common Goals Towards Sustainability. In 2016, the CBD's COP13 Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable use of Biodiversity for Well-Being, supported by UNWTO, recognized tourism as a driving force for change. It acknowledged the tourism sector as one of the major sectors of the global economy contributing to conservation and raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity.
UNWTO actively participates in the UN Environment Management Group (EMG), a coordination body addressing international environmental issues. It has contributed to the 2021 Report Supporting the Global Biodiversity Agenda, a United Nations System Commitment for Action to assist Member States delivering on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, as well as to the Environment Management Group’s Biodiversity Report and the UN Common Approach on Biodiversity and Nature-Based Solutions, among others.
Nature Positive Travel and Tourism
At COP15 in Montreal, in December 2022, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance announced a new collaboration to unite public and private sectors towards a shared nature positive vision for travel and tourism to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Signatories from the travel and tourism sector pledged to adopt a nature positive approach to tourism. This includes integrating biodiversity safeguards, reducing carbon emissions, mitigating the impact of pollution, curtailing the unsustainable use of resources, and protecting and restoring nature and wildlife.
This new alliance aims to inspire and support governments, businesses, and civil society in implementing the Post-2020 Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), particularly Targets 14, 15, & 16, focused on mainstreaming, assessing and reducing impacts, and promoting sustainable use, respectively. As one of the primary instruments for the sustainable use of biodiversity, the travel and tourism sector plays a pivotal role in implementing the GBF.
ECOTOURISM AND PROTECTED AREAS
UNWTO has been involved in the field of ecotourism since the early 1990s and developed a set of guidelines focusing on the strong link between protected area and tourism, with the aim of ensuring that tourism contributes to the purposes of protected areas and does not undermine them.ECOTOURISM AND PROTECTED AREAS
Wetlands are home to some of the richest biodiversity on the planet and the ecosystem services they provide play an essential role in sustainable development impacting directly the lives of millions of people worldwide, most especially the poor, who depend on the essential ecosystem services wetlands provide.WETLANDS