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Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria

Amy Fraenkel Director United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for North America


Why we need the criteria z z z

z z z

Governmental agencies need support to create or review national/regional certification systems Tourism companies are seeking advice on identifying internationally recognized sustainable tourism criteria Consumers are becoming more and more conscious and need to me assured that sustainability statements by the industry are credible Voluntary sustainable tourism initiatives need credible references to developing their own programs Mutual recognition and reciprocity among programs is needed in order to mainstream sustainability Media need guidance to recognize sustainable tourism providers and sustainable tourism certification schemes


The Objectives z

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Identify the common ground among existing certification and voluntary sustainable tourism programs. Develop a list of baseline criteria that are relevant and applicable to accommodation providers and tour operators of all sizes and in all locations, across the industry. Bring travel businesses, conservation organizations, certification bodies, UN agencies together in common understanding.


The response z

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A coalition of 27 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles. Developing the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, which will be the minimum standard that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for sustainable development


Achievements so far ; The

initial partnership (coordinating group) ; Establishing the initial list of Criteria ; Consultations (various versions) ; Establishment of a Steering Committee (SC) ; Launching of the Public Version by the SC ; Global Launching (IUCN conference)


The main inputs 40+ certification and eco-labeling schemes z Best practices z Codes of conduct z International guidelines z

z UNEP-UNWTO

12 aims of sustainable

tourism z CBD guidelines z International recommendations for sustainable tourism certification


The initial partnership Rainforest Alliance z United Nations Environment Programme z United Nations Foundation z UN World Tourism Organisation z

Endorsement of the partnership by the organizations’ executive management


The partnership today z z z z z z z z z z z z

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) Choice Hotels CondĂŠ Nast Traveler Conservation International ECOTRANS Expedia, Inc. Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) Hyatt Hotels Instituto do Hospitalidade The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA)

z z z z z z z z z z z z z z

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Kenyan Ecotourism Society Rainforest Alliance Sabre/Travelocity Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) Solimar International Sustainable Travel International (STI) The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) Tourism Concern United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) United Nations Foundation United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) VISIT + additional members to join soon


Consultation: Highlights z

Consultation summary z z z

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Over 80,000 experts invited to provide feedback At least 1,500 responses to consultation (about 35% tourism businesses and 65% other stakeholders) Very geographically diverse responses

Consultation results z z

Minimum 91% approval for each criterion from industry (minimum 81% from general public survey) 91% of industry would be willing to adopt the criteria


The criteria overview z

Set of 38 criteria organized around four main goals of sustainable tourism: z z z z

Demonstrate effective sustainable management; Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts; Minimize negative impacts to cultural heritage and maximize benefits; and Minimize environmental negative impacts and maximize benefits.


Next steps … Pilot

Projects … Development of Indicators … Outreach and integration with other initiatives (STSC) … North America Launch


Pilot Projects z

Two projects will test the criteria z ASR-GTZ

project in Central America. Working with tour operators that will use the criteria in order to select hotels that are following a sustainability management system. z GTZ project in Egypt. Development of a local standard for sustainable tourism using the criteria as basis.


Development of Indicators Develop Indicators through a consultative process. z Approach: z

z Develop

a set of indicators for each criterion to give flexibility and accommodate regional or local specificities


Outreach and Integration z

z z

The partnership is planning information and awareness activities targeting the private sector, cities, and national authorities (e.g. The North American Launching) The STSC will use the Criteria as a basis for the STSC accreditation system There will be adjustments but the overall concept, spirit and basic content of the criteria should be kept


Final Considerations z z

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The criteria have been developed with the objective to have multiple uses The value behind these criteria emanates mostly by the process that was followed to develop and peer-review them The process was always trying to keep a balance z

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Need to create a list of criteria that should, at the same time, be comprehensive, have a practical meaning, be representative of the values of sustainable tourism Need to reach consensus among the partners of the initiative.


Final Considerations Implementation will require interpretation of the criteria to specific needs. For this reason we need: z Extensive consultation for the development of indicators; and z Integration of this initiative with the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council (STSC) z


For more information ƒ www.sustainabletourismcriteria.org


ESTC 2008: Amy Fraenkel, UNEP