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“Robust discussion needed” to shape draft tourism environment plan

19th June 2023 By Staff Reporter | [email protected] | @tourismticker

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New plan launched to explore regenerative tourism.

The first fights from across the Tasman landed in New Zealand after the border reopened on 13 April 2022.

File photo. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

A new vision for the tourism industry aims to explore low-carbon aviation fuel and more collaboration with local communities.

The draft Tourism Environment Action Plan was launched on Friday by Tourism Minister Peeni Henare at an Air New Zealand hosted event in Auckland.

He also announced the government is investing $765,000 to co-fund two feasibility studies with Air New Zealand to investigate setting up sustainable aviation fuel production in Aotearoa.

The draft plan has six proposed focus areas, including decarbonisation of tourism to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, championing biodiversity, and boosting technology and innovation that help operators become more regenerative.

It also considers closers collaboration between tourism operators and communities, and supporting regenerative tourism projects.

Tourism Minister Peeni Henare said the country had a critical window of opportunity to become a global leader in adopting regenerative practices.

He encouraged people to give their feedback during public consultation.

"A draft Tourism Environment Action Plan launched today for public consultation sets out actions to further shift the tourism industry to a regenerative model that gives back more than it takes," Henare said.

"The draft action plan is bold and ambitious - and it needs to be."

It's the second phase in the tourism industry's transformation plan and it was created through collaboration between the industry, Māori, government and unions.

"A key action is investment in finding low-carbon fuel options," Henare said.

"Today we announced we will co-fund the next stage of feasibility studies into local production of sustainable aviation fuel, in partnership with Air New Zealand.

"If successful, this will build tourism's resilience and rapidly accelerate Aotearoa's energy transition."

Peeni Henare

Tourism Minister Peeni Henare Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The country currently operated on a import only model, and since November, airlines had received three batches of bad jet fuel.

It was currently the most viable option for reducing carbon emissions from aviation, which make up about 60 percent of tourism's total emissions," he said.

Air New Zealand has committed more than $1.5 million towards the feasibility studies.

Chief sustainability officer Kiri Hannifin said sustainable aviation fuel was in very high demand but limited supply.

"Commercially producing it in locally would not only help lower the country's emissions and create jobs, but also provide fuel security in New Zealand," Kiri Hannifin said.

One of the studies will be run by Fulcrum BioEnergy, in partnership with Air BP, to investigate using landfill waste and unrecyclables as a feedstock.

The second study will look at using forestry residues as the feedstock and landfill waste as a supplementary supply.

It will be delivered by LanzaTech and LanzaJet, in partnership with Z Energy.

A Memorandum of Understanding to work together and deliver the studies has been signed by Air New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport, Te Taurapa Tūhono New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Ministry for the Environment.

Submissions for draft Tourism Environment Action Plan will remain open until July 14, with a final plan expected to be release by the end of the year.

Copyright © 2023 , Radio New Zealand

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Sustainable Development

For people and planet.

Tourism is both highly vulnerable to climate change while at the same time contributing to it. Threats to the sector are diverse, including direct and indirect impacts such as more extreme weather events, pollution, water shortages, biodiversity loss and damage to assets and attractions at destinations, among others. Accelerating climate action in tourism is therefore of utmost importance for the resilience of the sector.

The green transformation of the tourism sector is needed, not just for the planet, but also for tourism itself, for boosting competitiveness and increasing resilience.

To mark World Environment Day 2020, the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme , which is led by UNWTO, announced its new vision for global tourism– growing better, stronger, and balancing the needs of people, planet and prosperity. The One Planet Vision for the Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector is structured around six lines of action to guide responsible tourism recovery for people, planet and prosperity, namely public health, social inclusion, biodiversity conservation, climate action, circular economy and governance and finance.

UNWTO also focuses on the fight against plastic pollution while effectively facing the public health and hygiene challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by UNWTO , the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, published the Recommendations for the Tourism Sector to Continue Taking Action on Plastic Pollution during COVID-19 Recovery illustrating how reducing the plastic footprint, increasing the engagement of suppliers, working closer with waste service providers, and ensuring transparency on the actions taken, can significantly contribute to the responsible recovery of the tourism sector.

From 93 companies and organizations, a further 32 signatories were welcomed on board during 2021 and 2022 , among them TUI Group, Palladium Hotel Group, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, Hostelling International, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Visit Valencia. To mark the confirmation of the new signatories, UNWTO and the United Nations Environment Programme, in conjunction with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, held a special panel discussion with the theme Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate. Strategies from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative.

Another key initiative designed by UNWTO is International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO), a network of tourism observatories monitoring the economic, environmental, and social impact of tourism at the destination level. The initiative is based on UNWTO’s long-standing commitment to the sustainable and resilient growth of the sector through measurement and monitoring, supporting the evidence-based management of tourism. Since its establishment in 2004, as of September 2022, a total of 33 observatories have joined the UNWTO INSTO network, including five that joined during the pandemic, Mallorca, Barcelona, Yukon, and Bogotá and Malaga). The INSTO observatories are required to monitor 11 mandatory issue areas : tourism seasonality, employment; destination economic benefits; energy management; water management; waste (sewage) management; solid waste management; climate action; accessibility; local satisfaction; and governance.

Glasgow Declaration: A Commitment to a Decade of Climate Action in Tourism

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) (4 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland)

UNWTO served as the voice of tourism at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) (4 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland), launching the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism geared to commit the tourism sector to take strong to reduce emissions by at least half over the next decade and to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.

The " Glasgow Declaration: A Commitment to a Decade of Climate Action in Tourism " sets out a clear and coherent sector-wide message and approach to climate action over the next decade, in line with the broader scientific framework and the urgency to act now.

The commitments that the Glasgow Declaration proposes to its signatories are:

  • Support the global commitment to at least halve emissions by 2030 and reach zero by 2050. o Deliver climate action plans within 12 months of signing up (or updating existing plans) and implement them.
  • Publicly report on targets on an annual basis.
  • Align with 5 shared pathways to accelerate tourism's transformative capacity. These are: measure, decarbonise, regenerate, collaborate and finance.
  • Work in a spirit of collaboration, share good practices and solutions, and disseminate information.

Up to September 2022 more than 600 signatories had committed to the Declaration , including many important players such as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), leading global Hotel group., Accor, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), as well as Booking, Expedia, Intrepid and others.

“The historic deal is the beginning of decarbonization the world via tourism. Our main four pillars to enforce the declaration will be to measure, decarbonize, regenerate, and unlock innovative financing. This is the initial start, and we will work to attract more private companies. When there is a crisis, there is always an opportunity to invest, learn, and develop sustainably.” - UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Innovation and Digital Transformation

From the very start of the current leadership mandate, in 2018, UNWTO has emphasized the importance of embracing and investing in new ideas. A new department was created in the Organization to deliver on the potential of innovation through promoting entrepreneurship, recognizing leading innovators and providing them with the practical and financial support they need to turn ideas into action.

To anticipate, address and overcome the new challenges and trends of the tourism sector, UNWTO is currently focused on a strategy on Innovation, Education, Digital Transformation, and Investments. The UNWTO Innovation Network works to promote exchange of knowledge among actors and change-makers with the objective of contributing to the promotion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The enormous Interest in UNWTO’s innovation ecosystem and start-up competitions keeps growing, showcasing the talent unleashed and our shared readiness to hear new voices and embrace new ideas. Up to September 2022, the UNWTO global innovation ecosystem counts on than 12,000 start-ups from 160 countries, with US$83 million mobilized and 300 corporate partners working on new tourism technologies.

Tourism for Investments and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in tourism is built on collaboration between governments, academia, corporations, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups, as well as investors, supporting business partners and other stakeholders. Restarting tourism is unthinkable without investments that boost economic growth, job creation and sustainability.

UNWTO is collaborating with institutions including the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank. These partnerships have attracted more than 200 investors as part of UNWTO’s global investment network , advancing critical work such as supporting hotel chains from 50 countries in becoming more sustainable.

In 2022, for the third consecutive year, UNWTO partnered with FDI intelligence from the Financial Times to develop a joint publication on Tourism Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) , analysing data on Greenfield investments trends. Using both data from fDi Markets and UNWTO, the Tourism Investment Report 2022 found that while the tourism sector has been showing signs of recovery, foreign direct investment (FDI) into the sector remained low in 2021 and continued a downward trajectory in the first of 2022, outlining the key challenges as well as highlighting the sector’s biggest investors.

To further the partnership to grow green investments in the tourism sector, UNWTO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) launched the Green Investments for Sustainable Tourism. Seven countries participated in the pilot phase (India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam), and the initiative will continue to grow. Alongside this, a new UNWTO Investment Guidelines Series: Enabling Frameworks for Tourism Investment was launched to focus on investment opportunities in several key destinations .

Tourism for Gender Equality

UNWTO is committed to enhancing the positive impact of tourism on women’s lives, and, in so doing, contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 5 – to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls". As a sector with a majority female workforce worldwide (54%) and most women in low-skilled or informal work, women have felt the economic shock to tourism caused by and the pandemic the hardest. As such, UNWTO produced a Series of Recommendations for an Inclusive Response  to ensure that women are not left behind.

The UNWTO project ‘ Centre Stage: Women’s Empowerment During the COVID-19 Recovery ’, is designed to strengthen, coordinate and focus work on gender equality in tourism governmental institutions. It is currently being implemented with the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and UN Women.

Through the Centre Stage project, UNWTO has supported four National Tourism Administrations, tourism businesses, NGOs and tourism organizations from Jordan, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, as they implement a one-year action plan for women’s empowerment. This included targeted training programmes, measures to boost female career progression, improvements to the legal framework and the collection of sex-disaggregated tourism employment data.

Other publications spearheaded by UNWTO include Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines for the Public Sector in Tourism and the Gender Inclusive Strategy for Tourism Businesses , a new set of guidelines addressing the needs of women in the tourism sector. These guidelines provide concrete recommendations for governments working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of international women’s rights treaties such as relevant ILO Conventions and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Meanwhile, the  Regional Report on Women in the Middle East maps the participation of women in the tourism sector across the region prior to the pandemic. In doing so, it assesses the contribution of tourism to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5. The report, compiled to mark the 2020 G20 Saudi Presidency, aims to inform further work on gender equality and equip stakeholders with tools they need to boost women's empowerment. 

Tourism for Social Inclusion

According to WHO, 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) live with some form of disability. Accessibility for all to tourism facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. Accessibility is not only about human rights. It is a business opportunity for destinations and companies to embrace all visitors and enhance their revenues.

Recovery should include accessibility as a central pillar in measures to improve destinations’ offer and competitiveness, contributing to inclusive environments, services, and employment.

UNWTO continues to build on its successful partnership with the Spanish ONCE Foundation and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) . The joint work will continue to focus on the promotion of good practices during the current crisis, the application of standards , the measurement of accessible tourism, as well as labour inclusion and institutional disability inclusive policies. All three have contributed to the International Standardization Organization ( ISO Standards ) being the first global standard aimed at implementing and improving accessibility throughout the tourism value chain.

Launched on the 2020 International Day of Persons with Disabilities , the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide Issue I: Persons with Disabilities, suggests measures for the whole tourism value chain to build back better, becoming more accessible and more competitive. Just as other guidelines on the UNWTO series, this document will continue to be updated.

Museum visitor in a wheelchair

Tourism for Youth Development

Young people are disproportionately impacted by interlinked global crises, from climate change to conflicts to persistent poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these fragilities and has put youth in the spotlight, particularly given the potential social and economic consequences for this demographic, both in emerging and mature destinations.

Youth development and engagement are cross-cutting issues in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development , and they can be a powerful catalyst to advance the contribution of tourism particularly for Goal 8 on economic growth and jobs, and Goal 12 on sustainable consumption and production as they can lead a transformation into a more responsible way of traveling. As the leaders of tomorrow, it is pivotal that young people become involved in shaping the global vision for the future.

UNWTO recognises youth as the present and future of the sector introduced several youth centred initiatives. Amongst them is the UNWTO Students League . The league is an innovative 360º competition for students that fosters talent development, Bridges the gap between studies and the realities of the sector and produces solutions for the Challenges of the Sector aligned with the SDGs.

Also placing young people at the centre of tourism’s future is the Global Youth Tourism Summit (GYTS) , the first edition was held on 29 June-July 2, 2022, in Sorrento, Italy, and welcomed more than 120 young delegates from more than 61 countries, alongside UNWTO Ambassadors for Tourism drawn from the worlds of sport, business and gastronomy. The event included a series of international events, workshops, and other educational initiatives, that will give children and youth a unique platform to share and discuss ideas and shape their visions for the future of sustainable tourism within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Out of the Summit, the Sorrento Call to Action offers a bold and ground-breaking vision for young people to be active participants in tourism’s restart and growth as a pillar of sustainable and inclusive development. 

Protecting Culture and Heritage

UNWTO promotes resources aimed at strengthening the dialogue between tourism and culture, while also promoting the exchange of good practices showcasing inclusive management systems and innovative cultural tourism experiences.

Tourism and the audio-visual industry are natural bedfellows. Tourists connect directly with the sites where films and television series are made, which gives these places added value to support the sustainable development of the sector. UNWTO and Netflix have partnered on the publication of a report which looks at the role of film and series as drivers for tourism and cultural affinity. The  Global Report on Cultural Affinity and Screen Tourism  explores the growing affection one has towards a particular country or culture displayed on the screen.

Against this backdrop, the cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples feature among the most distinctive features of tourism destinations, making them relevant players within the sector. Despite their global significance, Indigenous peoples have historically been among the most marginalized of population groups. UNWTO has developed measures to give indigenous communities access to relevant information , which may be compromised by linguistic and physical obstacles, or scarce external contacts . Previous work with the communities, allowed tourism operators to facilitate information flow between community focal points and crisis-management entities .

Again, UNWTO and its partners presented the Weaving the Recovery project to help Indigenous women benefit from tourism through fair trade and community entrepreneurship. This initiative, which brings together UNWTO, the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), Centro de las Artes Indígenas (CAI) and the NGO IMPACTO, was selected as one of the ten most promising projects among more than 850 initiatives to address the most pressing global challenges. The project will test different methodologies in pilot communities, starting with Mexico, to enable indigenous women access markets and demonstrate their leadership .

Tourism for Rural Development

Tourism is a lifeline for rural communities, providing jobs, supporting rural businesses and protecting natural and cultural heritage. However, its true force still needs to be fully deployed.

UNWTO designated 2020 as the ‘ Year of Tourism and Rural Development ’, a theme shared with that year’s World Tourism Day. For the occasion, UNWTO partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring together a new collection to help anyone to choose their perfect virtual travel experience, with thousands of museums and cultural destinations to explore. Alongside this, the UNWTO Recommendations on Tourism and Rural Development were released to provide expert guidance for a wide range of stakeholders.

UNWTO then designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “ Tourism for Inclusive Growth ”. This was an opportunity to look beyond the statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person. It was a way to promote the potential of tourism to create jobs and opportunities, to advance and highlight the role tourism can play in preserving and promoting natural and cultural heritage and curbing urban migration.

With the vision of making tourism a force for transformation, rural development, and community wellbeing, UNWTO launched the ‘ Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO ’. promotes and enhances the role of tourism in safeguarding rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, knowledge systems, and local values and activities. It was launched on the opening of UNWTO’s Regional Office in the Middle East, underscoring the focus of the Office on, among other issues, the role of tourism in rural development. In the first round, 44 villages from 32 countries were granted the recognition, and these will benefit from continued mentoring and be given a platform to share ideas and knowledge.

Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO

Parallel to this, and under the leadership of the G20 Saudi Presidency, UNWTO and the G20 Tourism Working Group developed the AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development through Tourism to help fulfil the sector’s potential to contribute to and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The Framework provides guidance and inspiration to all governments, as well as all other key stakeholders in the tourism sector, empowering local communities with the aim of fostering a truly holistic and integrated approach to development through tourism.

The new UNWTO Tourism for Rural Development Programme, which includes the Best Tourism Villages initiative, will provide training for national governments and municipalities, as well as grants for individual destinations. A first Observatory on Tourism for Rural Development will also provide key data and guide decision-making in the sector.

Meeting New Tourism Trends

Tourism continues to evolve, with new travel trends emerging and growing. From mountain tourism, gastronomy and wine tourism, and sports tourism to mention just a few, UNWTO supports its Members to embrace new trends and to diversify their tourism sectors.

Mountain tourism has significant potential to stimulate local economic growth and social change due to its close links with other economic activities, its contribution to GDP and job creation, and its capacity to promote the dispersal of demand. For many destinations, foodmaking as well as winemaking represent an integral part of their history and identity and have become the key elements in their branding. Gastronomy and wine tourism represents an opportunity to revitalize and diversify tourism, promote local economic development, involve many different professional sectors, and bring new uses to the primary sector.

The Guidelines for the Development of Gastronomy Tourism have been developed by UNWTO and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), a UNWTO affiliate member, as part of an ongoing collaboration. The guidelines serve as a practical toolkit to support the development of gastronomy tourism in destinations by providing recommendations on key aspects such as planning and management by national tourism administrations (NTAs), national tourism organizations (NTOs) and destination management organizations (DMOs).

In a further boost to Africa’s gastronomy and tourism potential, a dedicated session to celebrate the continent’s diverse culinary offering was held during the 6th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in Bruges, Belgium.

Sierra Leonean Chef Fatmata Binta

“It was a significant period in the history of African gastronomy celebrating the continent’s diverse culinary culture and opened doors for people to get curious about African gastronomy. It was a brilliant idea and it exposed my project and gave me a platform to move on.”

The UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism builds on the Organisation’s work in promoting innovation. The Gastronomy Forum similarly represents a unique opportunity for experts from across the growing field of gastronomy tourism to share new ideas and best practices in promoting Rural Tourism and Regional Development. Likewise, the UNWTO Global Conference on Wine Tourism allows leaders in their field to find concrete solutions to build back better and make tourism an enabler of the way forward towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future for rural communities.

tourism environment action plan

Working together, UNWTO and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will build on the potential of sports to celebrate shared humanity, foster friendship across borders and create experiences and opportunities for people everywhere. Tourism and football are natural partners, bringing joy to many millions with benefits going far beyond vacations or single matches.

Tourism Transformed

Tourism emerged out of crisis at a crossroad. If it is to realize its full potential to drive sustainable and inclusive development while also fulfilling its climate action responsibilities, the sector cannot continue along the same, pre-pandemic path. UNWTO emphasizes the vital importance of rethinking and transforming tourism.

In the build up to World Tourism Day 2022, the determination of both the tourism sector and of tourists themselves to do more and to do better is evident. However, the actions of individual tourists, single businesses and destinations will not in themselves be enough to deliver transformation at the speed or scale required.

Looking ahead, UNWTO emphasizes the importance of whole-government approaches to tourism reform, alongside enhanced public and private partnerships. Tourism can only deliver on its unique power to provide opportunity and drive sustainable and inclusive growth if it is given practical and economic support. The future starts now.

tourism environment action plan

Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan

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About the Speaker

tourism environment action plan

A policy practitioner for more than 20 years, Jennie has worked in tourism policy for the last 10 years. 

Currently, Jennie is a member of the MBIE Secretariat that is supporting the Tourism Environment Leadership Group on the environment phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan, including the development of the Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan launched earlier in June 2023.

Jennie was previously a lead on the development of the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy.  Other areas of responsibility have included contributing advice from a tourism perspective to government decisions about COVID-related constraints on the tourism industry’s connectivity, labour shortages and resilience building; and advising on China market development, including leading the 2015 China Visitor Insight Programme.

Aside from tourism policy, Jennie’s areas of policy expertise include trade policy, international food policy and regulatory policy.

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Climate & Environmental Action

The urgency of climate change is more evident than ever, as emphasised by the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Travel & Tourism is strongly affected by its impacts, but as many other sectors, is also an important emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, thereby actively contributing to climate change. It is therefore of utmost importance to decarbonise the sector as  quickly as possible and reach net zero by 2050.

Driving Climate Action: A Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism

This report aims to offer a better understanding of the status quo of climate action of Travel & Tourism businesses within selected industries, as well as current challenges, opportunities and needs. 

It also provides a decarbonisation corridor framework demonstrating what net zero journeys could look like for different types of businesses and gives guidance and recommendations on potential climate action. 

Further reading, glossary of terms and report methodology can be found in the Annex >


Watch back: a net zero roadmap for travel and tourism, a message from julia simpson, cop26: united for the planet, cop26: a call to action, cop26: a more sustainable future, we are at a critical point in the climate crisis.

WTTC has put climate change front and centre of its priorities. The organisation is engaged in a variety of different initiatives, working closely with its Members and partners to find solutions for this global challenge, with the objective to move towards a net zero emission future for the sector. 

Driven by our Members and the real desire to build back better, WTTC is committed to continuing its efforts to support the sector in combatting climate change through a range of activities including advocacy, research, guidance and collaboration with an incredible network of partners and businesses.

The journey so far

The historic adoption of the paris agreement in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5°c, the first step was taken in 2019 when wttc became a signatory to unfccc’s climate neutral now (cnn) initiative and announced a first aspirational target for the sector to be climate neutral by 2050 , adoption of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development with its 17 sustainable development goals (sdgs), including goal 17 on climate action, the 2019 un climate action summit, a global movement of younger generation demanding stronger and more targeted actions from governments and businesses worldwide, where we are now, latest activities, glasgow declaration: an urgent global call  for commitment to a decade of climate action for tourism , climate friendly travel registry: for 2050 climate neutral & sustainability ambitions. , latest resources, race to zero – information webinar for members , climate week nyc 2021 net zero travel & tourism - from ambition to action , un climate change conference – the road to climate neutrality in travel and tourism, frequently asked questions, 1. what is net zero.

Net zero is achieved when no incremental greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere. This means that carbon emissions are balanced with the removal of carbon from the atmosphere (e.g. by certified carbon capture, forests, etc.). According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report , we should aim to achieve net zero globally by 2050, at the latest, to avert climate disaster. For more information, read the UNFCCC Race to Zero campaign’s guide to net zero. 

2. What is the Race to Zero?

The Race to Zero is a global UN-backed campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, and zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. All members are committed to the same minimum requirements: halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050 at the very latest. They are also aligned to the same overarching meta-criteria: to pledge, plan, proceed and publish. This campaign focuses on mitigation, but our sister campaign, the Race to Resilience, focuses on climate adaptation.

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Climate Friendly Travel Registry

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Submission on the draft tourism environment action plan.

tourism environment action plan

Wai-o-Tapu, David Smith, Flickr

Many of the most challenging environmental issues associated with New Zealand’s pre-pandemic tourism offering remain unresolved.

Little progress has been made on how to reduce the carbon footprint of flying tourists to and from New Zealand. The environmental and biosecurity risks associated with cruise ships have yet to be systematically evaluated. There is also little consensus about how to ensure visitation remains within the carrying capacity of our most popular natural attractions. 

The Tourism Environment Action Plan offers an opportunity to tackle these and other environmental issues. It represents the most recent in a series of thinkpieces looking at how New Zealand’s tourism industry could be reshaped in the wake of Covid-19.

We should be in no doubt that reducing tourism’s environmental footprint will involve sometimes difficult trade-offs. The role of the Tourism Environment Leadership Group is not to steer away from those, but rather to collate the evidence and options in a way that helps decision makers decide how to proceed.

High-level aspirational statements and strategies tend to become a substitute for more serious conversations about the various trade-offs associated with tourism. This submission proposes that the leadership group park the aspirational language, and become much more forensic about the issues it thinks should be prioritised and more specific about where it thinks the solutions lie.

If we are serious about fundamental change, it is important that we do not keep on avoiding difficult conversations about some of the pressures that manifestly undermine claims about sustainability.

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Sustainable Tourism (Sustainable Development of Tourism, Sustainable Tourism Management)

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İzmir Katip Çelebi University, İzmir, Turkey

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René Schmidpeter

College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, USA

Nicholas Capaldi

International Training Centre of the IL, International Labor Organization, Turin, Italy

Liangrong Zu

Department of Economics, Society and Politics, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy

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Instituto Politécnico da Guarda, Guarda, Portugal

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Sonuç, N. (2023). Sustainable Tourism (Sustainable Development of Tourism, Sustainable Tourism Management). In: Idowu, S.O., Schmidpeter, R., Capaldi, N., Zu, L., Del Baldo, M., Abreu, R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management. Springer, Cham.

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Published : 22 November 2023

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Environment action programme to 2030

The 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will guide European environmental policy until the end of the decade.

The 8 th  EAP entered into force on 2 May 2022, as the EU’s legally agreed common agenda for environment policy until 2030.

The action programme reiterates the EU’s long-term vision to 2050 of living well and within planetary boundaries. It sets out priority objectives for 2030 and the conditions needed to achieve these. Building on the  European Green Deal , the action programme aims to speed up the transition to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient economy, recognising that human wellbeing and prosperity depend on healthy ecosystems.

The 8 th  EAP calls for active engagement of all stakeholders at all levels of governance, to ensure that EU climate and environment laws are effectively implemented. It forms the EU’s basis for achieving the United Nation’s  2030 Agenda  and its  Sustainable Development Goals .

The long-term priority objective is that, by 2050 at the latest, Europeans live well, within planetary boundaries and in a well-being economy where nothing is wasted. Growth will be regenerative, climate neutrality will be a reality, and inequalities will have been significantly reduced.

There are six priority objectives to 2030

  • achieving the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and climate neutrality by 2050
  • enhancing adaptive capacity , strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change
  • advancing towards a regenerative growth model , decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation, and accelerating the transition to a circular economy
  • pursuing a zero-pollution ambition , including for air, water and soil and protecting the health and well-being of Europeans
  • protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity , and enhancing natural capital
  • reducing environmental and climate pressures related to production and consumption (particularly in the areas of energy, industry, buildings and infrastructure, mobility, tourism, international trade and the food system)

Enabling framework

In line with the European Green Deal’s oath to ‘do no harm', the 8 th EAP supports an integrated approach to policy development and implementation.  Article 3 of the action programme sets out the enabling conditions needed to achieve the priority objectives. Among others, it highlights the need for

  • a full implementation of existing legislation
  • significantly decreasing the Union’s material and consumption footprints
  • achieving environmental fairness
  • boosting s ustainable finance
  • making use of economic and tax incentives to facilitate the sustainability transition
  • phasing out fossil fuel subsidies
  • developing a summary ‘beyond GDP’ dashboard
  • uptake by and cooperation at all levels of policy-making between different levels of actors
  • harnessing the potential of digitalisation
  • ensuring that policy action is firmly anchored in latest science and knowledge  

Monitoring and reports

On 26 July 2022, the Commission adopted a list of headline indicators to monitor progress towards the EU’s environment and climate goals, as foreseen in the 8 th  EAP. This monitoring framework will inform European citizens about the impact of EU climate and environmental policy and facilitate an exchange between policy-makers on where further efforts are needed, in order to stay within the safe and just limits of our planet. The headline indicators follow the structure of the 8 th EAP building on the European Green Deal.

In line with article 4.4 of the 8 th EAP and as outlined in the Communication , the Commission, supported by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) monitors, assesses and reports annually on progress on the priority objectives. Based on the selected headline indicators, the EEA assesses progress towards the 8 th EAP objectives in annual reports published every December, from 2023 onwards.

A mid-term review was carried out on 13 March 2024 (under Article 5.1), which found that the EU’s objectives under the European Green Deal are attainable if the actions planned are fully implemented. It underlined the importance of meeting climate and environmental objectives also for their positive economic impact, including in terms of health, resilience, or autonomy in material use. The mid-term report added that although many planned actions, such as legislative changes, have been carried out, it is too early to assess their impact on the environment as they are yet to be implemented on the ground.

Some of the reviews key findings include:-

  • Notable progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation , such as the adoption of key legislation to achieve climate neutrality, in particular the EU Climate Law , the Fit for 55 package of legislation and the 2021 Climate Adaptation Strategy . However, it noted that faster progress is needed to meet the EU’s 2030 target of cutting GHG emissions at least 55% and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
  • The effects of climate change on natural ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and people’s health and wellbeing already being felt, in particular, due to more frequent and intensive weather extremes events.
  • All actions under the second circular economy action plan have been delivered, including the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation , which must now be implemented on the ground.
  • The delivery of most actions under the zero-pollution action plan , in particular the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Soil Monitoring Law , but progress towards zero pollution on the ground is mixed.
  • Most actions set out in the biodiversity strategy have been completed, including a political agreement on the Nature Restoration Law, as well as an increase in designated protected land and marine areas.
  • Water scarcity now affects almost one-third of the EU population every year. This has a direct impact on the well-being of current and future generations and it is likely to further increase due to climate change and the increase in frequency and intensity of weather extremes.

A full evaluation of the 8th EAP is expected by 31 March 2029. This will be followed, if appropriate, by a proposal for the next environmental action programme by 31 December 2029 (Article 6).

The European Parliament , the Council of the European Union and the Commission exchange views annually, based on the reports, on actions taken, and possible future actions.

Previous and upcoming actions.

Find out more.

Find out more

As part of the preparation of a monitoring framework with headline indicators for the 8th EAP, the Commission will consult Member States and external stakeholders - find out more. 

View the proposal

  • Show 2 more items

More information about the history of the EAP can be found on the 7th Environment Action Programme website

  • Mid-term review of 8th Environment Action Programme + staff working document
  • Decision (EU) 2022/591 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 April 2022 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030
  • 8th Environment Action Programme Proposal
  • Consultative paper on the proposed approach and architecture for the 8th EAP monitoring framework 
  • ​Study to support the development of a monitoring framework for the Eighth Environment Action Programme (8EAP)

Related topics

European Green Deal

Climate action

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Tourism ‘intrinsically susceptible’ to climate shocks, political unrest, pandemic threat

The Perhentian Islands in Terengganu, Malaysia.

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The President of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday highlighted the urgent need to boost sustainable and resilient tourism practices to protect the environment while continuing to benefit local economies.

Addressing a high-level meeting on tourism as part of the General Assembly’s first ever Sustainability Week , Dennis Francis said it was a vital driver of economic growth and empowerment .

In 2023, the sector contributed three per cent to the global gross domestic product (GDP), amounting to $3.3 trillion, and employed one in every ten people worldwide. For countries in special situations, like small island nations, tourism accounted for nearly 35 per cent of all export earnings and up to 80 per cent of national exports .

“Despite the spectacular benefits reaped across its vast supply chains – tourism is also intrinsically susceptible to a host of disruptive forces – such as climate change, pandemics, acts of terrorism, and domestic political instability,” Mr. Francis said.


He expressed concerns about the sector’s environmental and carbon footprint, saying sustainability must be paramount.

“We need a global tourism sector that is sustainable – one with deep local value chains that expand demand for locally made products and services in ways that also directly and positively benefit local communities,” he urged.

Moreover, he emphasized that the sector should also leverage digital technology to foster innovation and expand opportunities for jobs and economic growth, especially for women, youth, and indigenous and local communities.

“We also need a global tourism sector that is resilient,” said Mr. Francis, stressing the need to minimize its vulnerabilities and bolstering its ability to withstand external shocks.

This includes designing infrastructures that can withstand environmental disasters, fostering innovations that enhance economic and social resilience, and diversifying tourism activities to reduce recovery time after disruptive events.

Symbol of hope

Zurab Pololikashvili, head of the UN World Tourism Organization ( UNWTO ), also spoke at the General Assembly, noting that despite today’s pressing challenges, tourism offered a glimmer of hope.

Reflecting on the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – its most significant crisis in history – he observed that in 2023, international arrivals rebounded to almost 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels , with full recovery expected by the end of 2024.

This recovery must serve as a catalyst for bold action and transformative change, he said, emphasizing, “tourism can – and must – be a part of this plan for a better future for all.”

Sustainability Week

The high-level event on tourism followed Monday’s deliberations on debt sustainability , where speakers outlined the crippling impact of debt on developing economies, and called for urgent reform of the global financial system.

Upcoming highlights of the week include dedicated discussions on sustainable transport, infrastructure and energy.

  • General Assembly
  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Leadership group members
  • Summary: He Mahere Tiaki Kaimahi – Better Work Action Plan
  • He Mahere Tiaki Kaimahi – Better Work Action Plan
  • Work undertaken

He Āhurutanga Taiao — Draft Environment Action Plan (summary)

The Draft Environment Action Plan was part of the second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan (ITP).

On this page

This is the web version of the summary of the Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan. You can download the PDF version of the summary and full Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan at:

Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan - Summary

A summary of the draft Environment Action Plan, part of the second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan (ITP).

Consultation document

PDF, 197KB, 2 pages

Consultation document: Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan

A consultation document that proposes actions for improving the impact of tourism on climate and the environment.

PDF, 4.6MB, 91 pages

The ITP aimed to transform tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand to a regenerative model – one that gives back more than it takes from the environment, people and communities.

Leaders from the Tourism industry, Māori, unions, and government worked together, as part of the Environment Leadership Group, to develop this draft action plan.

It was intended to be both practical and transformational.

Why the environment?

  • The health of the natural environment is integral to our tourism offering.
  • A truly regenerative tourism system will increase the mauri – life force – of our land, climate and people; and in doing so, support abundance for Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse communities, the visitors we host, and our economy.
  • Tourism connects people to each other and to the natural world.
  • Tourism can raise visitors’ awareness of environmental challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. This can then influence their beliefs and actions – a ripple effect.

The Leadership Group focused on 3 pillars...

  • Understanding and adapting tourism to the impacts of climate change.
  • Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand’s visitor economy to a low carbon emissions industry.
  • Restoring our biodiversity and eco-systems through tourism.

The adaptation pillar (1) was addressed by the Aotearoa Circle’s Tourism Adaptation Roadmap. The Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan focusses on the remaining 2 pillars.

Tīwaiwaka principles

In developing the Environment Action Plan, the Leadership Group drew on the Tīwaiwaka Principles, developed by Rob McGowan (known to many as Pā Ropata).

  • Te Whenua, Papatūānuku, is the source of all life. She is the Mother.
  • We are not the centre of the Universe but we are part of it.
  • The mauri is the web of connections that sustains life.
  • Te tangata, people, are not the masters of the mauri; we are part o the mauri and embraced by it.
  • No individual person is more important than any other.
  • We give special care to the tiniest living creatures.

You can find more information on Tīwaiwaka principles at:

Tīwaiwaka (external link)

The mission

The Leadership Group agreed on a mission to empower the tourism industry to help to restore the mauri of the climate and environment by swiftly achieving carbon zero targets and embracing a regenerative approach. This Plan aimed to pave the way for a future where…

  • We have risen to the challenge of restoring our climate and the challenge of preserving biodiversity.
  • We have worked with communities to create a picture of what healthy visitation looks like.
  • Communities are engaging in regeneration projects that will deliver tangible benefits to locals and visitors alike.
  • We have done what is takes to become truly regenerative so the impact visitors and hosts have is overwhelmingly positive.
  • Tourism is championing our economy-wide transformation to a regenerative way of living.
  • Aotearoa New Zealand is charting the course for others to follow to positive global environmental outcomes.

The Tirohanga Hou

The 6 Tirohanga Hou aimed to deliver on the Leadership Group's aspiration.

The draft Action Plan contained 6 Tirohanga Hou, meaning new outlooks or ways of thinking and doing things.

The Tirohanga Hou, and the actions that sit under each, were deliberately light on implementation detail to create space for others to shape the ideas and direction of this Plan.

Tourism journeys are decarbonised

Explores how Aotearoa New Zealand can achieve net zero emissions tourism by 2050 and uphold our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement in efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.


  • Develop a Tourism Decarbonisation Roadmap.
  • Rapidly invest in low-carbon technologies for long-haul air and cruise travel.
  • Leverage tourism to advocate for rapidly decarbonising domestic transport used by visitors.
  • Assess the environmental impacts of the current mix of visitors and the impact of levers to shape demand and visitor behaviour.

Tourism champions biodiversity

Seeks to make Aotearoa New Zealand’s tourism industry a champion for our unique biodiversity. Tourism operators will understand and minimise their impact on biodiversity. 

  • Establish and support collaborative regional environmental projects. 
  • Develop measures for regenerative tourism.
  • Ensure green assessment schemes include criteria and standards related to biodiversity. 
  • Advocate and educate on biodiversity matters at a local and national level. 

Visitor management is optimised for te taiao

Seeks to reduce tourism’s impact on te taiao by managing visitor volumes at particularly sensitive sites and highlighting environmentally friendly activities in marketing.

  • Assess ideal minimum and maximum visitor numbers at specific sites.
  • Develop and promote a suite of levers to maintain visitor numbers within these parameters.
  • Highlight regenerative activities and operators in marketing campaigns.

Accelerated technology uptake and innovation enable regeneration

Lifts technology uptake and embeds a culture of innovation to enable tourism operators and the industry to shift to a regenerative model more rapidly. 

  • Harness emerging technology within the tourism system.
  • Organise an in-person event showcasing existing and emerging technology.
  • Establish a tourism innovation lab.
  • Contribute tourism perspectives to economy-wide innovation programmes.

Tourism businesses are incentivised and enabled for sustainability and regeneration

Lifts awareness and accelerates adoption of practices that protect and enhance the natural environment. 

  • Ensure online toolkits on sustainable and regenerative practices are widely available.
  • Designing and delivering personalised regenerative support programmes to tourism operators.
  • Foster a collaborative approach between tourism operators.
  • Respond to research on understanding tourism operators’ adoption of regenerative policies.

The tourism system and its levers are optimised and resourced to support regeneration 

Ensures that the Aotearoa New Zealand’s tourism system, and its various structures and levers, can enable the actions and reinforce the priorities that will drive the transition. 

  • Undertake a high-level assessment of the tourism system.
  • Refresh the MBIE Destination Management Guidelines.
  • Recommend a regular national tourism strategy.
  • Review funding structures and mechanisms that will enable a regenerative tourism system.

© Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Please note: This content will change over time and can go out of date.


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    World Tourism Organization (2022), Baseline Report on Climate Action in Tourism, UNWTO, Madrid, DOI:

  13. Consultation opens on draft Tourism Environment Action Plan

    The Tourism ITP aims to shift tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand to a regenerative model that gives back more than it takes from people, communities and the environment. The Better Work Action Plan, which was the result of the first phase of the ITP, focuses on the tourism workforce and was released in March 2023. Find out more about the draft ...

  14. New Action Plan Towards Achieving Climate Neutrality in Travel and

    Today, we are launching the WTTC Sustainability Action Plan. This is a bold new initiative by WTTC, supported by UN Climate Change, to encourage and help the entire travel and tourism sector to take meaningful action to address the threats that climate change poses to the sector and to the world. We congratulate WTTC for this timely and ...

  15. Discussing Tourism: Environment Action Plan

    The second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan is underway with the draft Environment Action Plan currently out for consultation.. The draft plan aims to start a conversation about how tourism can transform into a low carbon emissions industry as well as support the restoration of our natural biodiversity, which is critical to achieving a regenerative tourism model - one that ...

  16. PDF Creating an Action Plan: Setting Targets to Measure and Monitor Progress

    environmental benefits reflect community priorities. What new, balanced measures of success can you put . in place to assess the impact and value of tourism in . your destination? The following types of indicators may be useful to include . across the action areas within your plan, where relevant: • Warning indicators. e.g., business ...

  17. Sustainable Tourism (Sustainable Development of Tourism ...

    As a result of the Rio Summit, Agenda 21 appeared as an action plan that might be adopted on local, national, and international levels. ... Figure 1 demonstrates the main pillars or dimensions of sustainable tourism as environmental, social, and economic. The former dimension (environment) is at the heart of all the dimensions. ...

  18. PDF Maldives Tourism Climate Action Plan

    This Tourism Climate Action Plan outlines our commitment to developing a sustainable and resilient tourism sector that addresses the challenges of climate change. The plan sets out our vision for harnessing the pow- ... These actions will help to protect our environment while providing unique and memorable experiences for visitors. It will help ...

  19. PDF Green Growth National Action Plan 2021 to 2025: Tourism Sector

    Action Plan 2021-2025. The development of this plan lies at the heart of our continuous efforts and ambitions to support environmental and climate action in Jordan, while also achieving our sustainable economic growth objectives. During the process of developing this plan, the Ministry of Environment has taken impressive efforts

  20. Environment action programme to 2030

    The 8 th EAP entered into force on 2 May 2022, as the EU's legally agreed common agenda for environment policy until 2030. The action programme reiterates the EU's long-term vision to 2050 of living well and within planetary boundaries. It sets out priority objectives for 2030 and the conditions needed to achieve these.

  21. Tourism 'intrinsically susceptible' to climate shocks, political unrest

    Sustainable. He expressed concerns about the sector's environmental and carbon footprint, saying sustainability must be paramount. "We need a global tourism sector that is sustainable - one with deep local value chains that expand demand for locally made products and services in ways that also directly and positively benefit local communities," he urged.

  22. He Āhurutanga Taiao

    Our draft Tourism Environment Action Plan focusses on the remaining 2 pillars. Tīwaiwaka principles. In developing the Environment Action Plan, the Leadership Group has drawn on the Tīwaiwaka Principles, developed by Rob McGowan (known to many as Pā Ropata). Te Whenua, Papatūānuku, is the source of all life. She is the Mother.