Tag Archives: Global Goals

IGU Tourism Commission endorses Tourism and the SDGs Conference 2019

The Tourism Commission of the International Geographic Union (IGU) has lent official support to the Tourism and the Sustainable Development Conference 2019 (Tourism4SDGs19) taking place from 24-25 January 2019 at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. Tourism4SDGs19 will bring together scholars and tourism stakeholders for critical and constructive conversations on the challenges to tourism contributing to the SDGs, and ways in which tourism can be more inclusive, equitable and sustainable, in line with the values embedded in the Global Goals.

Says Professor Dieter Müller, Chair of the IGU Tourism Commission: “It is very timely that a conference addresses tourism in relation to the global Sustainable Development Goals. Meeting the SDGs will be decisive for how our common future unfolds. I expect this conference to become one of the most essential academic events outlining debating ways forward and outlining future research agendas for tourism not only for the Pacific region, but the entire globe. Hence, the Commission for the Geography of Tourism, Leisure and Global Change within the International Geographical Union (IGU) is happy to be able to support this important conference.”

Professor Regina Scheyvens, Conference convenor and Professor of Development Studies at Massey University adds: “We are excited to be hosting this conference at Massey University because we feel that the Sustainable Development Goals provide us with a great opportunity to rethink tourism globally. For too long, growth in tourism has been unreservedly praised while associated negative social and environmental impacts have been brushed aside. In this conference, we look forward to debating ideas on ways of transforming tourism to be a more sustainable, equitable industry. The support of the IGU Tourism Commission is indeed an honour for us. ”

The conference has lined up three world-renowned keynote speakers, Professor Susanne Becken, Johnny Edmonds and Professor Michael Hall, as well as leading scholars and industry players for the two plenary panels on Partnerships for the SDGS and Tourism and Indigenous Development, Tourism and the SDGs.

There is still time to submit abstracts in the six conference streams. The deadline for the Call for Papers has been extended to Friday, 28 September 2018.

Visit the website https://tourism-sdg.nz for information about the conference and follow #Tourism4SDGs19 and @Tourism4SDGS for announcements.

Conference Logo

About the IGU and IGU Tourism Commission

The International Geographical Union (IGU) is an international, non-governmental, professional organization devoted to the development of the discipline of Geography. The purposes of the IGU are primarily to promote Geography through initiating and coordinating geographical research and teaching in all countries of the world.  Its work is conducted through the instruments of its National Committees, Commissions and Task Forces. The IGU hosts the International Geographical Congress every four years and also promotes regional conferences and other meetings that further of the objectives of the Union.  The Commission on the Geography of Tourism and Leisure and Global Change is a speciality group within the IGU with the objective to examine the geographical nature of tourism, leisure and global change. The commission applies a truly global perspective highlighting development in different parts of the world and through that acknowledging tourism as a formative cause for societal and environmental change in an increasingly interconnected world. For achieving this, the commission conducts comparative research, contributes and organizes scientific conferences, and supports publications for the dissemination of geographical knowledge.

For more information or interviews contact:
IDS, Massey University, New Zealand
Professor Regina Scheyvens
Email: R.A.Scheyvens@massey.ac.nz
Heidi van der Watt
Email: H.Vanderwatt@massey.ac.nz
Tel: + 64 21 238 4295

IGU Commission Geography of Tourism, Leisure and Global Change
Prof Dieter Müller
Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeå University, Sweden
Email:  dieter.muller@umu.se

About Tourism and the SDGs

This section briefly outlines the SDGs in relation to tourism, particularly within the context of the South Pacific. You will find a range of information, resources and examples here regarding the interplay of tourism and the SDGs. This might help to inspire your conference contribution.

The SDGs

In 2015 the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) expired and the global community gathered to once more to create and agree on a global sustainable development agenda that outlines and structures sustainable development until 2030.

We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.” (UN Resolution A/Res/70/1)

With these words, the 70th session of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. In contrast to the MDGs, the SDGs are a set of comprehensive goals and targets that apply to all countries equally. For example, New Zealand and Australia are just as responsible for their progress towards ending poverty, ensuring gender equality or combating environmental pollution than any Small Island Development State (SIDS) in the South Pacific.

The SDGs understand sustainable development as a globally integrated challenge.


The SGDs acknowledge the importance of tourism and directly refer to tourism in three goals: Goal 8 on economic growth (Target 8.9), Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production (Target 12.b), and Goal 14 on life below water (Target 14.7) (UNWTO 2018). However, a number of other stakeholders, NGOs and watchdog groups emphasise that tourism is a cross-cutting theme that needs to be recognised within the context of all of the goals.

The travel and tourism industry

The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world, directly or indirectly responsible for 1 in 10 jobs and generating 10.4 percent of global GDP (WTTC 2018). It has, therefore, a decisive role to play in the progressive realisation of the 2030 Agenda. Many island nations in the South Pacific have tourism as an economic mainstay. The World Travel and Tourism Council ranks Oceania as the region where travel and tourism has the second highest GDP-contribution in relative terms. However, tourism is a double-edged sword: where it supports economic development, it might also pose challenges to equitable wealth distribution, environmental protection, equal access to resources or the host communities’ co-determination and participation (see pictures below).

tourism and the sdgs

Burning of a resort’s trash in the remote Yasawa islands, Fiji (Source: G. Laeis, 2017)

tourism and the sdgs

Beach sign in the Yasawa islands asking people not to enter the beach when cruise ship passengers are present. (Picture: G. Laeis, 2017)

Initiatives addressing tourism as a cross-cutting issue for sustainable development

Following the call for understanding tourism as a cross-cutting issue in sustainable development, the Responsible Tourism Institute has created the Biosphere Responsible Tourism Seal, a comprehensive tourism certification scheme which “has adapted the principles emanating from the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to the reality of the Tourist Agents at a global level. Such adaptation will promote the dissemination of the SDGs, facilitating their adoption at all levels established by the UN: governments, civil society and the private sector.

So far, the seal has been awarded to a number of tourism operators in central and northern America and Europe. In the southern hemisphere, the Easter Island Eco Lodge has been certified.

In 2017 over 30 representatives from civil society, watchdog groups and academics from 19 countries met on the occasion of the ITB in Berlin to discuss Agenda 2030 from a tourism-critical civil society perspective. The Transforming Tourism Project looks specifically how tourism can be harnessed to play a vital role in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The Project has since published a comprehensive Compendium of how all 17 SDGs relate to tourism issues, which provides an excellent starting point to critically think about the various roles and issues of today’s global tourism. Furthermore, the Transforming Tourism report by Bread for the World highlights a number of SDG and targets as “indispensable in order to make tourism sustainable”:

  • Strength small-scale food producers through access to markets (2.3)
  • Achieve gender equality (5)
  • Protect labour rights (8.8)
  • Reduce inequality within and among countries (10)
  • Sustainable management of natural resources (1 2.2)
  • Adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability information into reporting cycles (1 2.6)
  • Provide education for sustainable development (12.8)
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning (13.2) and strengthen resilience (13.1)
  • End abuse,  exploitation,  and  all  forms  of  violence against children (16.2)
  • Ensure participatory decision-making (16 .7)
  • Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development (17) Bread for the World 2016: 7)

In April 2018 a workshop and conference was hosted in Gambia by the International Centre for Responsible Tourism – West Africa and members of the Transforming Tourism Project to discuss the issues around monitoring the SDGs in tourism

Measuring sustainability in tourism

Griffith University’s Institute for Tourism in collaboration with the University of Surrey has created a Global Sustainability Dashboard. The measurement tool draws on the SDGs, but also on other initiatives and programmes.

To track the potential of tourism to reduce poverty, the Dashboard measures the share of international global tourism expenditure in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. Whilst the proportion is relatively small at 6%, it has been increasing steadily over the last twenty years. Monitoring key tourism trends is important for making informed decisions on policies, investment, management and marketing.” (Griffith University)

The following sustainability themes are part of the Dashboard: Poverty Alleviation (SDG1), Equality of Travel (SDG10), Carbon Emissions (SDG13), Sustainable Production (SDG6, SDG7, SDG12), Protected Areas, (SDG12, SDG14), Gender Equity (SDG5), and Security (SDG16).

This infographic shows a visualisation of the dashboard:

Sustainable Tourism

Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard 2016

Sustainable tourism in the Pacific

To facilitate a sustainability agenda more broadly and collaboratively amongst South Pacific island states, the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Alliance (PSTA) was formed in collaboration with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) in 2015. PSTA engages South Pacific businesses, NGOs and governments to make tourism, one of the region’s key economic drivers, more socially inclusive, culturally supportive and environmentally friendly. Currently, Fiji and Samoa are taking part in this initiative. PSTA has received a grant through the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP) from the UN Environment Programme.

The PSTA aims to

  • “Collaborate with local stakeholders to identify the barriers to sustainable consumption and production within the destination
  • Train 100 hotel managers on sustainable tourism best practices such as sourcing goods locally, using resources more efficiently and utilizing a supply chain that is more inclusive of local people and cultures
  • Raise awareness among hotel managers on the financial and economic benefits of incorporating sustainability practices into their business operations
  • Equip 100 hotels with a Sustainability Management System (SMS) – a digital tool to monitor energy-use, waste-reduction, water consumption, and sustainable sourcing”

From Sustainable Tourism to Tourism for Sustainable Development

Sustainable tourism should no longer be a side-line product of the global tourism industry. Neither niche products, such as ‘green tourism’, ‘community tourism’ or ‘nature-based tourism’, nor well-meaning CSR initiatives adequately address the pressing global challenges ahead. The introduction of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs call for a more critical assessment of how the entire tourism industry impacts our environment and societies. Even though tourism is directly referred to in only three SDGs, the information above highlights how it has an important role to play in all aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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