Environment Ministers from across the pan-European region have called for the development of circularity and climate action to promote the sustainable transformation of tourism.
The 9th Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe was held last week in Nicosia, Cyprus. During the conference, delegates adopted a Ministerial Declaration recognising the urgent need to "build back better" the tourism sector in the wake of the health crisis but also in the face of a certain climate emergency.
To do this, it is crucial to accelerate the transition to a circular tourism economy while ensuring that all actors in the sector meet their responsibilities for climate action. This decision builds on the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and the Global Initiative on Plastics in Tourism, both led by UNWTO.
The sustainable transformation of the tourism sector also builds on the major initiatives of the One Planet Network's Sustainable Tourism Programme. A new repository of tools and resources on the circular economy and tourism, as well as two new publications from the Global Initiative on Plastics in Tourism on measurement and sourcing were presented following this ministerial conference.
During the same conference, the Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania, Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi, chaired a plenary discussion on "The application of circular economy principles in tourism", with contributions from Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ukraine, Germany, Greece, Armenia and the European Union.
The ministerial declaration signed by all the actors present states: "We will promote the transformation of the tourism sector by implementing programmes and projects oriented towards the application of circular models in its value chain. In addition, we will build knowledge by using existing circular tools and initiatives, with a view to further disseminating and spreading the circular economy in the UNECE member States concerned. We encourage Member States and other stakeholders in a position to do so to consider joining and committing to the activities of the Global Plastics Initiative for Tourism, which brings the tourism sector together around a common vision for the circular economy of plastics, and the Glasgow Declaration, 'A Commitment for a Decade of Climate Action in Tourism'."
The circular economy can give businesses a comparative advantage; it can assist destinations to have more inclusive local value chains; and it allows tourists to leave a positive footprint. I encourage European Environment Ministers to work in synergy with their counterparts in tourism ministries to implement a circular economy in the tourism sector.
Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General