19 April 1999


19 April 1999

Press Release


19990419 Participants Include Representatives of Industry, Trade Unions, Non-Governmental Organizations, Local Governments

The ways in which the tourism industry could promote sustainable practices, rather than damage local environments and cultures, were explored this afternoon by the Commission on Sustainable Development, during a multi- stakeholder dialogue on tourism that included representatives of non- governmental organizations, industry, trade unions, local authorities and governments.

Speaking for local authorities, the Mayor of Heidelberg said that the tourism industry must contribute more to protecting the environment for future generations and must adopt sustainable practices, so it did not destroy what residents and visitors loved and appreciated about tourist destinations. Social stability was a prerequisite for the sound development of tourism -- and would be one of the most important results of sustainable policies.

Representing business and stressing the economic benefits of tourism, the President of the World Travel and Tourism Council said that travel and tourism could be a positive change agent for sustainable development. Tourism was the world's largest industry, responsible for more than 10 per cent of the global gross domestic product. In particular for developing countries, tourism could be a primary commodity in the twenty-first century. For that to occur, however, tourism must be encouraged to grow wisely. There must be fair and non-discriminatory taxes applied to tourism businesses, without bureaucratic bottlenecks and with a high priority on sustainability.

Foreign investment should serve to strengthen domestic capacity for development, said a representative of the Centre for Science and Environment, speaking on behalf of non-governmental organizations. Planning for tourism development must be driven by local cultural and environmental concerns. In that regard, respect for local land rights, especially those of indigenous peoples, was important, as was the right of local communities and indigenous peoples to say "no" to tourism. Furthermore, industry should take the responsibility to protect endangered ecosystems and cultures.

Sustainable Development Commission - 1a - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

A representative speaking on behalf of trade unions stressed the role that workers played in shaping understanding among the visitors with whom they interacted. That role must be recognized and could prove important in changing consumption patterns, he said. To do so, however, would require greater training of workers.

During the general discussion, which covered a wide range of tourism- related issues, a non-governmental organization representative stressed the importance of multi-stakeholder participation and transparency in tourism development. In addition, several speakers mentioned the need for developing and implementing standards on a regional basis, but a representative of trade union's emphasized that workers' rights could not be treated differently from one region to the next.

Some speakers stressed that voluntary initiatives and self-regulation mechanisms must supplement -- not replace -- local government regulations. Other issues raised included the possibility of developing guidelines for sustainable tourism, and the problems of sex tourism and child sex workers.

The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 20 April, to continue its multi-stakeholder dialogue on tourism. It will focus on the sub-theme of changing consumer behaviour.

Commission Work Programme

The Commission on Sustainable Development met this afternoon to hold a dialogue on the subject of sustainable tourism. The segment is designed to generate dialogue between governments, representatives from industry, trade unions, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and other participating major groups, as well as international organizations.

The tourism segment will focus on four topics: industry initiatives for sustainable tourism; changing consumer behaviour; promoting broad-based sustainable development through tourism while safeguarding the integrity of local cultures and protecting the environment; and the coastal impact of tourism.

Under a multi-year thematic work programme, the Commission addresses sectoral issues, including human settlements, toxic chemicals and hazardous waste; cross-sectoral issues, such as financial resources and activities of major groups, such as business and labour; and economic issues, such as tourism.

The Commission's seventh session, which began this morning, is organized to allow for general debate and interactive thematic dialogues on the main substantive items on its agenda: tourism, oceans and seas; preparations for the comprehensive review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; and consumption and production patterns.


The Commission had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the topic (document E/CN.17/1999/5 and Adds. 1-3), which states that the tourism industry, one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the global economy, has important economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts. Its continuing growth has important implications for the achievement of sustainable development, particularly in small island developing States and tourist destinations with fragile ecological environments. The demand for new forms of tourism is growing in many countries and presents new challenges for the tourism industry, national governments and the international community.

In recent decades, tourism in the global economy has grown rapidly, consistently outstripping annual growth rates for world gross national product (GNP), world merchandise exports and world trade in services. As a result, the share of international tourism in global economic activity has risen steadily: in 1997, global tourism activities accounted for about 1.5 per cent of world GNP, 8 per cent of world merchandise exports by value and 35 per cent of the value of world exports of services. One of the major economic impacts of this rapid expansion in international tourism has been significant employment creation.

Sustainable Development Commission - 3 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

The predicted growth in international tourism raises fresh concerns about the impact of tourism development on the environment. In the absence of adequate measures, it is likely that the projected increase in the volume of international tourism will generate outcomes, such as increases in air, sea and land transportation, that can harm the environment. Thus, the major challenges facing the international community are to deal with the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and to support the efforts of countries, particularly developing countries, to improve the environmental sustainability of their tourism industries at the national level. Policy coordination and cooperation at the international level is needed to address the global environmental impacts of tourism, as well as issues of biological diversity, coastal area management and ecotourism.

The international community also has an important role to play in assisting developing countries to develop a range of meaningful and effective planning guidelines, codes of good practice, regulatory frameworks and policy provisions aimed at achieving sustainable tourism. Such assistance is crucial for the development of integrated national tourism policies. A further challenge for the international community is to help countries to progressively raise environmental standards and to adopt technologies that enhance environmental protection without unduly reducing the competitiveness of tourism enterprises. In this regard, tourism activities that employ environmentally sound technologies to save water and energy, prevent pollution, treat waste water, minimize solid waste production and encourage recycling should be promoted to the fullest extent.

The report states that the central challenge for the tourism industry is to transform itself into a sustainable activity by reorienting corporate philosophy, practice and ethics to promote sustainable development through better environmental management and practices and close partnerships with government and civil society. It is vital that the tourism industry involve all stakeholders -- customers, staff, trading partners and the host community -- in decision-making. To this end, it should develop partnerships with the host community, governments and private sector companies to enhance the prospects for bringing about the sustainable development of tourism.

In that regard, the tourism industry has to address the concerns of communities where they carry out their business. Given the potential social and cultural impact of tourism on local populations, particularly in the more remote and isolated locations favoured by the newer forms of tourism such as nature or ecotourism, the private sector needs to invite and nurture host community participation in the tourism development process. Without host community acceptance of the type and scale of tourism, antagonism towards tourists and tourism can threaten overall development objectives.

On the challenges for national governments, the report states that governments needed to promote tourism development in a manner that will maximize its positive influence, while minimizing its negative impact on the

Sustainable Development Commission - 4 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

natural environment. An appropriate balance needs to be established between the goals of sustainable tourism development and environmental protection. The development of sustainable tourism should not impede or diminish sustainability in other sectors of the economy. High priority should be assigned to the integration of policies for tourism development with environmental protection. Within this integrated policy framework, it will be necessary for regulatory policies and systems of economic incentives and disincentives to be reviewed to ensure that clear environmental goals and objectives are set.

According to the report, the lack of an adequate tourism infrastructure is a serious obstacle to tourism development in all countries. When undertaking the development of major infrastructures -- such as road networks and water systems -- governments must ensure that they cater not only to the needs of the tourism sector, but also to the needs of other industries and the local community. Also, due to the seasonal nature of tourism, governments have a responsibility to identify ways in which tourism activity can be spread more evenly throughout the year.

Since tourism plays a significant role in most small island developing States economies, the report states, their national governments face special challenges to ensure that there is a balance between the heightened demands placed on local resources by tourism and the demands of the host communities. In that regard, small island developing States and other developing countries should strive to diversify their economies in order to reduce dependency on tourism as a source of income, employment and foreign exchange.

Another important area of action for governments is to develop national strategies or master plans for tourism that will provide focus and direction to all stakeholders. These strategies and master plans need to be complemented and supported by appropriate regulatory mechanisms and tools to deal with environmental assessment, building regulations and environmental standards for tourism. Governments should ensure that all environmental regulations and environmental policy measures are applied to all businesses in the tourism sector, regardless of size or type of tourism activity.

Tourism, in particular mass tourism, should be regulated and, where necessary, prohibited in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas, the report adds. Also, in protected areas and where nature is particularly diverse, vulnerable and attractive, tourism should be permitted only when it meets the requirements of nature protection and biological diversity conservation. In coastal areas, where tourism can impose serious environmental damage, governments should fully implement the principles of integrated coastal area management. Environmental impact studies are an important tool for sustainable development and should be undertaken in the preoperative stage. However, where tourism activities can contribute to environmental conservation, they should be encouraged and promoted.

Sustainable Development Commission - 5 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

With regard to the International Year of Ecotourism in 2002, the Commission has been requested to recommend to the General Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, supportive measures and activities that will contribute to a successful year, the report states. The international community and all major groups should fully support and participate to ensure a successful year. The General Assembly has also proclaimed the year 2002 as the International Year of Mountains, and the Commission may wish to consider possibilities for linking some of the activities of the two years.

The three addenda expand on the basic ideas of the Secretary General's report, discussing economic, social and environmental policy challenges.

Also before the Commission is the report of the Inter-sessional Ad Hoc Working Group on Consumption and Production Patterns and on Tourism (document E/CN.17/1999/16) which suggests possible elements for a draft decision of the Commission on the topic. The report suggests that industrialized countries continue to take the lead in efforts to reverse unsustainable trends in consumption and production, especially those that threaten the global environment. Developing countries' priorities should be to eradicate poverty and improve standards of living, including meeting basic needs while avoiding environmental damage and social inequity.

The report recommends that the implementation of the international work programme incorporate the following priority areas: effective policy development and implementation; natural resource management and cleaner production; globalization and its impacts on consumption and production patterns; and urbanization and its impacts on consumption and production patterns. Progress on work and concrete results in this area will be reported to the Commission at its tenth session in 2002.

The Commission may also wish to request that governments take a number of actions in relation to production and consumption, including:

-- the development of further policies for promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns through disincentives for unsustainable practices and incentives for more sustainable practices;

-- the consideration of a range of economic instruments, including fiscal instruments, and the gradual phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies, in order to internalize environmental costs and promote sustainable consumption and production; and

-- that they work to increase understanding of the role of advertising and mass media in shaping consumption and production patterns, and enhance their role in promoting sustainable development, among other things through voluntary initiatives and agreed guidelines.

Sustainable Development Commission - 6 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

On the topic of tourism, the report contains possible elements for a draft decision of the Commission. Such a draft decision would have the Commission decide to adopt an international work programme on sustainable tourism development to be implemented between the seventh session and 2002. It would call upon governments to advance sustainable tourism development policies which would encourage their tourism industry, assist in attracting foreign investment and environmentally sound technologies. The decision would call upon the tourism industry to develop new forms of socially, culturally and environmentally compatible forms of tourism.

By the text, the Commission would also invite governments to:

-- Promote long-term sustainable tourism development that increases the economic and educational benefits from the tourism resources and maintains the cultural and environmental integrity of the host community;

-- Undertake studies on appropriate measures for promoting sustainable tourism development and to clarify further the concept and definition of sustainable tourism and of ecotourism;

-- Develop indicators for sustainable tourism, taking into account the work of the World Tourism Organization, as well as an ongoing testing phase of indicators for sustainable development;

-- Consider establishing a global network to promote an exchange of information and views on ecotourism and to elaborate a comprehensive set of guidelines for sustainable tourism development aimed at ensuring that the development of tourism is consistent with the goals and principles of sustainable development, which could be approved by the United Nations by 2002.


GEOFFREY LIPMAN, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said that travel and tourism could be the positive change agent for sustainable development in the next millennium and the United Nations could play a key role in that regard. Tourism could be a catalyst for sustainable development because of several factors: its powerful economic, social and ecological contribution and potential; its growing relevance to all nations, particularly emerging States; and the changing culture of travel. Tourism was the world's largest industry, driving directly and indirectly more than 10 per cent of the global gross domestic product, trade, investment and jobs.

Tourism was integrated into all world economies, but it was especially important to developing States, he said. For those countries, tourism could be a primary commodity and springboard into the twenty-first century. To do that, however, tourism must be encouraged to grow wisely, with expanded infrastructure. There must be fair and non-discriminatory taxes applied to

Sustainable Development Commission - 7 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

tourism businesses, without bureaucratic bottlenecks and with a high priority on sustainability. In the new era, the tourism industry needed to achieve sustainable development goals. It had made changes in product design to ensure quality and quantity; it had changed its operations to limit pollution; and it had changed its infrastructure to reduce congestion. The tourism industry was committed to sustainable development and would work with all other actors to implement Agenda 21.

LEROY TROTMAN, representing trade unions, said in 1997 trade unions, business and governments had negotiated a series of agreements touching on the hotel industry, through the International Labour Organization (ILO). Some of the major agreements related to vocational training, core level standards, child labour and child prostitution, and access to technical assistance for developing countries. Those principles had been recognized by Agenda 21, and reinforced by the ILO in its promotion of sustainable labour standards. The agreements could be used as a point of departure.

He then stressed the importance of the worker-tourist interface. That interface related first to the role of workers in the tourist industry when they met and served the tourists. The second site of interface was when workers around the world became tourists themselves. Workers in tourism had an extraordinary opportunity to shape the understanding of visitors with whom they interacted. That fact must be recognized and used to change consumption patterns. To do so, however, greater training was needed. Further, a new culture must be infused into the industry worldwide, starting at the enterprise level.

Representative trade unions must play a critical role in setting targets and evaluating and reformulating them, he said. Those targets should be kept simple. They could include reduction and reuse of waste, elimination of toxic hazards and improvement in health and safety. The work trade unions conducted could be used to assist businesses and serve as a model for the non-unionized workplace and other entities. The role of government -- especially local authorities -- should be recognized in terms of tourism policy development and establishing standards. Millions of workers became tourists and, if trained along the above lines, such tourists would be model visitors.

BEATE WEBER, Mayor of Heidelberg, said tourism was one possible way to improve socio-economic development and was a key branch for reaching the global target of sustainable development. If tourism was to have a future, it must not destroy what residents and visitors loved and appreciated about cities such as Heidelberg. Tourism must not pollute, damage or destroy the environment. For tourism, a sound environment and nature were the most important bases of its existence. Threats to the ecosystem, to the richness in species, and to the climate, as well as damages to nature and landscape, were a threat to tourist enterprises.

Sustainable Development Commission - 8 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

The world needed a tourism industry that would contribute -- more than it had up to now -- to saving the natural environment for future generations, she said. Tourism activities must be operated under the assumption that they would be successful or profitable only for a short time. Social stability was a prerequisite for a sound development of tourism -- and would be one of the most important results. Tourism activities must not overburden the people and their social and cultural systems.

She added that there was a need to maintain natural wealth and the social and cultural heritage of the tourist destinations. The powers and responsibilities of local governments over decisions was key to the local tourism economy, such as regulation of land use and building, historical preservation and licensing of businesses. In light of those powers and responsibilities, local authorities could play an instrumental role as facilitators between the different interests that were affected by tourism.

INDIRA KHURANA, Centre for Science and Environment, speaking on behalf of non-governmental organizations, said the impact of tourism has varied greatly, as the industry ranged from transnational enterprises to community- owned enterprises deep in the Amazon. Such diversity required differing approaches. One of the ways to ensure that tourism contributed to sustainable development was to build strong links between tourism and local economic activities.

Foreign investment should serve to strengthen domestic capacity, she said. Communities should be actively involved in all phases of tourism development and evaluation. Respect for local land rights and traditional land tenure systems was essential in the process, as was the right of local communities and indigenous peoples to say "no" to tourism.

National councils or advisory boards comprised of government, civil society and private sector representatives should work to adopt national sustainable tourism plans based on Agenda 21, she continued. Tourism should contribute to economic, biological and cultural diversity. Industry should take responsibility for protecting endangered ecosystems and cultures, even if local regulations were not adequate to do so. Codes of ethics would be useful to develop consensus on tourism.

She said that the Commission should promote an international process to agree and finalize sets of indicators for sustainable tourism, taking into account regional considerations, the needs of local stakeholders, and environmental and socio-cultural considerations. It should invite public, private and non-governmental organization certification initiatives to join in an evaluation process to determine best practices.

Industry was responsible for properly informing consumers about the social, cultural and economic context of the tourism destination and its level of development and to be accountable for such information, she said. The

Sustainable Development Commission - 9 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

tourism industry should take initiatives to implement the polluter-pays principle or other forms of addressing pollution related to tourism.

Governmental regulatory bodies could legally mandate the protection of vital national assets, such as clean water and fertile soil, she said. Those bodies should take the lead in ensuring that tourism did not threaten key ecosystems. Multinational enterprises must be committed to following the highest recognized international environmental and labour standards, and not be held to what might be inadequate local regulatory frameworks. Through local training programmes and the establishment of educational projects, the tourism industry could ensure that qualified people were employed in their projects.

MARK HAMBLEY (United States) said that the Commission was blazing a trail on the question of sustainable tourism. There seemed to be numerous guidelines for sustainable tourism, but implementation of them had been unclear and unreliable. The Commission might want to examine existing guidelines and in 2002 question whether there was a need to create a new set of guidelines. There needed to be an increase in the dissemination of research on sustainable tourism policies, especially in regard to tourism's impact on the environment. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would soon publish a qualitative model for assessing the impact of tourism in such areas as electricity and water use, as well as solid waste removal.

For many developing countries international tourism was an important part of revenue, he continued. The challenge for costal communities was the rapid growth of tourism and how that affected the sustainability of local communities. Small-scale fishing, for example, was very vulnerable to rapid tourism growth. Another priority was combating sex tourism, as well as meeting the needs of older tourists. Good data collection about older tourists was needed, as they represented a large percentage of the total tourist population.

LIBRAN CABACTULAN (Philippines) said that sustainability should be pursued by all actors in the international community in a holistic manner. His country would like to welcome as many tourists as would like to come, but that must be balanced by the capacity to host them. The social and cultural impact of tourism must also be taken into account. From the perspective of developing countries, communities must be more involved in tourism policies within the context of national priorities. Such national priorities should be at the centre of concern.

Also, local income from tourism must be increased, he added. There must also be greater discussion on respecting cultural norms, especially in regard to indigenous communities. In his country, steps were being taken to stop tourist activities in some areas, in order to examine their impact on those areas. There was also a need for more positive participation by women and

Sustainable Development Commission - 10 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

youth in tourism. In regard to those concerns, the Philippines had developed a tourism master plan through the year 2010, with the participation of various stakeholders. That plan was intended to promote a kind of tourism that could produce a better quality of life for Filipinos.

Dialogue on Industry Initiatives

SIMON UPTON (New Zealand), the Commission Chairman, said a number of initiatives were already in place. Those included: voluntary self-regulation efforts at national and international levels, including certification and codes of conduct; consideration of the Green Globe guidelines to ensure development of a multi-stakeholder advisory group; and the continued implementation of the 1997 ILO agreements. Those initiatives were "on track".

A representative of industry said the green globe initiative for certification was a standard to which tourism companies could be held. Such certification was done by an independent auditing company without vested interest. A non-governmental organization representative, however, said green globe was a good start, but that the Commission should invite all certification initiatives to join an evaluation process. Several private and public initiatives -- including those of Australia and Costa Rica -- were of equal importance, but were not being discussed today. Green globe, which tended to look at the industry from one angle, did not replace regulatory frameworks, she said.

A representative of local authorities stressed the need to balance voluntary initiatives with regulatory controls at the local level, which was where tourism had its greatest impact. An industry representative said he was not convinced that there should be a universal system in a heterogeneous world. Experience proved that for certification to be effective, the corporate side must understand the importance of openness to external and independent auditing, a representative of trade unions said.

Mr. LIPMAN, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said that in the tourism industry there was a consensus that some form of system review for voluntary initiatives was favourable. There were some practical issues to be worked out in that regard, such as who would pay for that review. Such a review should work in the marketplace.

A country representative said that it was important to take into account the specific needs of countries in the creation of sustainable tourism policies. For a country suffering from hunger and poverty, a sustainable tourism policy was a luxury it could not afford. Also, simply saying that tourism represented 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) did not explain the full story of the distribution of revenue. Further, the protection of the national heritage and environment could not be the responsibility of industry alone. The Commission should not be too quick to

Sustainable Development Commission - 11 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

develop guidelines for sustainable tourism and any such guidelines must take into account country specific factors.

A non-governmental organization representative said attention must be given to the growing role of international companies in the global tourism industry. Those companies were taking greater control over businesses, such as airlines and hotels.

A country representative said attention should be given to the needs and rights of people working in the tourism industry. It was also important to ensure that the vast amounts of money from tourism filtered down to meet the needs of developing countries.

A country representative said that international standards conditioned behaviour, regardless of whether they were developed voluntarily or under an agreed system of compliance. Sometimes those were best undertaken on a regional basis. He then drew attention to a matter that was often overlooked because of its seeming lack of importance: packaging. Packaging was extremely difficult for host countries to dispose of, particularly because of its high chemical content.

Mr. UPTON (New Zealand), the Chairman, said that the issue of packaging involved a number of other issues, such as carrying capacity, donor responsibility and the division of labour between industry and other groups.

An industry representative said different destinations had different draws, such as business, relatives, ecosystems, cultural heritage. Therefore, effective policies for sustainable tourism had to be devised in cooperation with local entities.

Industry must comply with social standards, since unsustainable working conditions -- including low pay and lack of vacation -- affected both tourism and the environment, a trade union representative said.

Mr. TROTMAN, representing trade unions, said the regionalization of technical standards might work in some areas, but he rejected the notion that there could be first- and second-class citizens. Core standards had to be recognized that were not subject to regionalization.

Mr. UPTON (New Zealand), the Chairman, stressed that no one was suggesting first- or second-class approaches.

Mr. LIPMAN said that, at the Rio Conference, it had become clear that attempting to find universally applicable details was a heroic endeavour. Principles had been established as the basis for details to be developed regionally, nationally and locally.

Sustainable Development Commission - 12 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

Carrying capacity calculations were quantitative and qualitative, a representative of local government said. For example, the number of tourists that could be accommodated based on an island's potable water supply was greater than the number of tourists that would be desirable in terms of preventing the erosion of local culture. Both values and numbers were involved, and the latter could only be established by local communities.

A non-governmental organization representative said there was need to consider the burden place on local systems. Partners must collaborate to ensure transparency in taking up local, clearly identified benchmarks and ensuring that those did not compete with local needs.

A non-governmental organization representative said the needs of the local population and their social and cultural situation should be the starting point for benchmarks to measure sustainable tourism. Regional diversity should also be taken into account in that regard. The Commission should promote a set of sustainable tourism indicators in which all actors were involved. Another non-governmental organization representative said industry should take information from non-market sources and it should not think that industry alone had information to give to others.

Ms. WEBER, the Mayor of Heidelberg, said that industry should invent a new method for rating hotels that measured environmental practices, as well as comfort. There could be a system of stars that measured sustainable, environmentally friendly actions.

A non-governmental organization representative said that, for many small islands, the tourism industry was the only means of survival. The international community should assist those countries to develop a plan for sustainable tourism.

Industries in developing countries were not adequately represented in the discussion, said a country representative. Industries often made unreasonable demands on developing countries. There was a need for guidelines that could be applied and reapplied by industry in their practices. Developing countries were often pressured by industry, with suggestions that if regulations were imposed the industry would leave.

Mr. LIPMAN, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said that industry operated with the view that governments should govern and industries should operate. Industries did often ask governments for favours, but at the end of the day it was the government's decision, as well as the decisions of the local community. Industry was willing to cooperate in all forms, but that cooperation must provide a reasonable economic return.

A trade union representative said a number of activities had been taken to improve the environmental practices of airlines, including recycling and

Sustainable Development Commission - 13 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

reducing waste production. A number of those activities were due to employee initiatives.

On the topic of child sex tourism, a non-governmental organization representative said there had been a number of efforts taken by non- governmental organizations to combat the problem. It could only be eliminated, however, if women and girls were given alternative employment. The tourism industry should be encouraged to provide such employment. An industry representative described a programme that would, in fact, provide employment alternatives for girls. A number of hotels had taken in girls and provided them hospitality education to allow them to pursue a career in the hotel industry. Many of the girls in the programme would have been sold into prostitution. Because of the programme, they had an alternative.

A local government representative gave an example of the benefits of local authorities being at the head of sustainable tourism strategies. In Brazil, the largest rainforest park in the world was being administered by local authorities, with non-governmental organizations and the local tourism industry. In less than two months of joint administration, the improvements had been significant.

Another representative of local authorities suggested possible elements for the final decision on the issue to be adopted by the Commission. Today there had been consensus that multi-stakeholder collaborations must be sensitive to and inclusive of local governments, which represented local values and interests. That should be inserted into the text, with an indication that a local Agenda 21 be included as the mechanism for that purpose.

A representative said that since the Commission was to review voluntary initiatives and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was reviewing regulatory reform, the Commission should indicate that the two be linked, even in a manner as simple as a joint workshop.

Mr. UPTON (New Zealand), the Chairman, asked for advice from the major groups on how the Commission could focus its attention. He would be reporting the outcome to ministers at the high-level segment. What could or should industry do over and above those initiatives already in place? he asked. If they did that, what would local and central government need to do to make it worth their while?

A country representative asked whether the Commission had ever discussed the collaboration among tourism, industry and government to combat international terrorism.

The CHAIRMAN said that had not been done to date, but he would be interested in hearing of any specific suggestion.

Sustainable Development Commission - 14 - Press Release ENV/DEV/500 4th Meeting (PM) 19 April 1999

Concluding Comments

A non-governmental organization representative welcomed industry initiatives but stressed that they must fit into a broader context. There was strong support among the four groups for the work being taken under Agenda 21 regarding travel and tourism, but the process was not perfect. Multi- stakeholder participation and transparency in that process had been stressed. Local groups and authorities could contribute greatly to processes initiated by industries. The discussion had illustrated strong agreement on the importance of indicators. Regarding certification, the Commission had set up a voluntary initiatives process last year and he would like to see that go forward. There was room for progress on that in the tourism sector.

A representative of local government said that, while voluntary initiatives and self-regulation were important, they must supplement local government regulations. Tourism decisions must be made in the context of local communities and governments. Planning for tourism development must be at the local level, driven by local cultural and environmental impact. Tourist activities must more directly benefit local workers and areas. Standards should be set and models of carrying capacity created at the local level, since both qualitative and quantitative decisions must be considered. Value-based decisions must be made at the local level.

A trade union representative stressed that the discussion had been held by people concerned with the issue and educated in it. He cautioned that the Commission's dialogue might not accurately reflect existing realities. Bodies of evidence showed that workers in the tourism industry were suffering from sub-standard conditions. The trade union movement had a significant role to play, based on the credo "consult not confront". Employers alone, and governments alone, could not achieve the stated goals.

Regarding benchmarking, he said there was need for further consideration. Complementarity had to be examined, as well as the fact that situations in one country affected those in others. In June, the ILO would have the second reading of a convention to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, such as bonded labour and child prostitution, and he appealed for delegations to attend.

A representative of industry said that speakers had stressed global principles and multi-stakeholder involvement. If there could be agreement on the topic of voluntary industry initiatives, that agreement should be stated clearly by the Commission and then implemented by all stakeholders at the local level.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.