How can the travel and tourism industry play a critical role in halting and reversing the destruction of nature? Well, that’s the subject of a new report that has just been released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Designed to help businesses understand and manage their impact on biodiversity, the report is being launched ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in December, where global governments will finalize actions to transform society’s relationship with nature and offer new hope for global nature conservation.
‘Nature Positive Travel & Tourism’ was created jointly with ANIMONDIAL, a key advisor to global Travel & Tourism on animal and nature protection, and in collaboration with global businesses within the sector, has also been endorsed by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD).
The report will help businesses act on the very real and urgent need to better protect biodiversity and nature.
Travel & Tourism businesses are uniquely placed to take positive actions to restore nature and, through nature-based solutions and decarbonization, achieve Net Zero.
With nature tourism representing 20% of global tourism, the report shows just how crucial nature is for destinations around the world.
Wildlife, a primary motivator for nature tourism, contributes U.S.$343 billion to the global economy every year, and supports nearly 22 million jobs around the world.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Human activity has resulted in a devastating loss of natural habitat and biodiversity, with one in four species now facing extinction.”
Simpson continued: “Travel & Tourism is uniquely placed to make a real difference. 80% of Travel & Tourism is highly dependent on nature so it is crucial we take a proactive role in advancing nature conservation.”
She pointed out that: “Our report comes ahead of COP15, when governments will be creating targets to protect habitats, species, and the natural environment which in turn reduces carbon. Travel & Tourism is on the front line. We are all custodians of nature.”
Biodiversity is also intricately tied to other critical issues, such as climate change and emerging diseases, with the potential impact of the latter so starkly demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the loss of biodiversity is not only crucial for the sector and its resilience, but also for the global economy and society.
Daniel Turner, ANIMONDIAL Co-Founder & Director, said: “Most travel and tourism businesses we talk to already understand the needs to include the protection of biodiversity and nature in their planning and reporting. But this can be a complicated area, and for many, the first challenge is simply knowing where to start.”
Turner explained that: “The report will inform, inspire, and empower Travel & Tourism to better manage their impacts and play a leading role in building a global Nature Positive future to help build a better world.”
And he added: “ANIMONDIAL commends WTTC for this opportunity to help tourism businesses with their first steps, as well as the rest of their Nature Positive Tourism journey.”
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Executive Secretary, said: “Much of the travel and tourism sector relies on the beauty of nature and the resources it provides. Yet, we are losing biodiversity and natural resources at an unprecedented rate.”
She continued: “Travel and tourism is in a unique position to contribute to this reversal by implementing a number of measures such as educating and raising awareness; generating revenue streams that sustain the protection, management, and restoration of ecosystems; and reducing footprint activities, amongst others.”
Although global travel and tourism values nature and remains committed to protecting people and planet, WTTC believes more guidance is needed on the importance of biodiversity, the key drivers of biodiversity loss, and the key components to better protect and restore it.
To tackle this, the report offers a roadmap based on a four-phase framework with practical steps to guide the sector in adopting a Nature Positive approach: assessing operational impact, setting out a strategy, identifying essential actions, rolling out and reviewing the program and harnessing communication opportunities.
It also offer four actions businesses can achieve in the short term: reconnecting people and nature, supporting sustainable value chains, protecting animals and their welfare, and investing in nature.
Both the private and public sectors have different roles to play. But meaningful change can and will only be achieved if the two work together to better protect animals and nature.
Go to https://research.wttc.org/nature-positive-travel-and-tourism for the full report.