(Bonn/ Durban, 09.12.2011) FTTSA and Tourism Watch, together with partners from the global North and South, called for binding negotiations on mitigation of emissions caused by aviation. Tourism interest groups were called to engage constructively at the UN climate summit in Durban, instead of using tourism as an excuse to avoid any binding regulations for emissions caused by aviation.
“Tourism needs regulations, otherwise it cannot contribute to poverty alleviation. Instead of further sparing aviation emissions, we call for a transformation of international tourism towards more sustainability”, says Sabine Minninger from EED Tourism Watch at a panel discussion on the occasion of the UN climate summit in Durban.
She presented the position paper “Last call to Durban” in which FTTSA, EED Tourism Watch together with their partners (ECOT, akte and Naturefriends International) as well as further signatories called for binding emission reduction targets. A globally binding aviation scheme could also generate funds for climate financing in developing countries and ensure no net incidence on developing countries’ economies.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) constructively debated this option, instead of blocking the negotiations as in the past. Within the negotiation process, tourism must be structured responsibly so as to be used as an instrument to combat poverty and be able to interact head-on with those interest groups that would try to hinder regulations in aviation.
South African panellists outlined how an urgent transformation in international tourism is needed. Myron Peter from the National Department of Tourism described the National Minimum Standard for Responsible Tourism as the answer to the challenges of global warming. “We do not want laws, but a paradigm shift. We want people to understand the importance of responsible tourism and therefore back it. Only conviction changes behaviour.”
The FTTSA-certified tourism entrepreneur Paul Miedema (Calabash Tours and Trust) indicated that poor communities in South Africastill do not have proper access to markets. Therefore more tourism entrepreneurs should adhere to FTTSA criteria, which includes, amongst other things, fair operations, purchasing and distribution of benefits.
Pastor Solomuzi Mabuza from the Ujamaa Centre for Community Development and Research in South Africamade a call on behalf of ECOT that the effects of global warming be explained to poor people and communities. “At the moment the technical and scientific language of the negotiation process is not translated to poor and affected people, so that they can understand the process. The churches could help to close this gap”, said the theologian.
Luigi Cabrini, head of Sustainable Tourism Development at the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), feels tourism has the responsibility to reduce emissions. “Sustainable investments, as described in the tourism chapter of the Green Economy Report which UNWTO compiled with UNEP, like investments in green and sustainable tourism, may have the potential to create jobs and to alleviate poverty – while saving the climate.”
The small but highly interested audience asked not only to keep the dialogue alive but also to intensify it. The representatives of NGOs, government as well as the UNWTO agreed with the request. However, no matter which controversial opinion the panellists represented, they all are aware that tourism needs to remain an important issue at the negotiations.