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Travel Foundation launches UN-led project to tackle tourism’s footprint

An international project to reduce tourism’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve resource efficiency gets underway today (10 October 2017) in Mauritius.

The four-year project, “Transforming Tourism Value Chains in developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to accelerate more resilient, resource efficient, low carbon development”, is led by UN Environment and supported by €5 million from the International Climate Initiative on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. The Travel Foundation is the lead implementing partner in both Mauritius and Saint Lucia, while other agencies lead in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. The four islands have been selected primarily because tourism is an essential part of their economies.

Without introducing greener practices, by 2050 tourism’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are set to double, with even greater increases in water use and waste disposal.

The project will focus on the accommodation and food & beverage sectors, and meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE). It will first uncover “hotspots” in tourism operations across the value chain, to identify and prioritise opportunities for resource efficiencies.  This will lead to national action plans with specific targets for emission reductions and resource efficiency. Participating stakeholders will benefit from tools to help measure their environmental impact, expert advice, communication campaigns, training and capacity building. There will also be a series of policy recommendations aimed at enabling and incentivising a greener, low carbon future for tourism.

The aim is that, by the end of the project, at least 100 businesses linked to tourism will have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. The findings and recommendations will also be shared with other countries to enable further replication.

Salli Felton, CEO of the Travel Foundation, said:

“Tourism relies on healthy ecosystems and can often be a positive force behind conservation efforts. Yet it is through more efficient use of natural resources that the industry can, and must, make a difference at scale. By the end of this project we will have provided Mauritius and Saint Lucia with support and national policy recommendations that will lead to greener tourism economies and benefits for both businesses and the environment.”

The launch of the project in Mauritius on 10 October will be marked by a two-day conference and workshop, attracting a range of international and national delegates. A similar event will also launch the project in Saint Lucia next month.

The Travel Foundation is collaborating with UN Environment, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), and local partners such as the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Environment.