With the objective of advancing the contribution of the tourism sector to biodiversity preservation the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) participated in the UN Biodiversity Conference COP13, in Cancun, Mexico (2-17 December). The Conferences is focused on mainstreaming biodiversity across relevant sectors, especially agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism.
Just a few weeks ahead of launching the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which will be celebrated throughout 2017, UNWTO underlined in Cancun the need for national policies and frameworks for sustainable tourism that protect biodiversity and foster multi-stakeholder partnerships.
“Tourism and biodiversity are natural allies and UNWTO is fully committed to its joint work with the Convention of Biological Diversity. Tourism can highly contribute to the protection of biodiversity, by raising awareness, by engaging the tourism community and by proposing sustainable alternatives for local communities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the opening of the conference.
Erick Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said “Tourism is one of the biggest job creators on planet Earth. So if we protect biodiversity, we are creating jobs.”
“I want to thank the World Tourism Organization for the work they have done in the area of biodiversity,” said Braulio Ferreira, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, at the event.
The participation of UNWTO in COP-13 included the side-event ‘Tourism, Business & the Environment’, which addressed strategies to promote tourism experiences that can be both sustainable and profitable, creating opportunities for local communities.