Latest news and insights from various sources relating to UN Sustainable Development Goals.

‘New and better deal’ needed for climate resilience in Caribbean, UN chief tells donor conference

21 November 2017 – Caribbean countries need “a new and better deal” – one that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance – if they are to build climate resilience, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday at an international conference to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by a series of powerful hurricanes.

“During my visits to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, I saw a level of devastation that I have never witnessed before in my life,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that in these islands alone, damage is estimated at $1.1 billion, and total economic losses at $400 million.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season was particularly active, with storms having been more frequent, and stronger. Of the 13 named storms, eight were hurricanes and of those, four were major hurricanes, including Irma and Maria. Across the entire Caribbean region, there was tragic loss of life and widespread devastation.

The pledging conference today at UN Headquarters in New York, was co-organized by the UN and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is a regional grouping of 20 countries.

“Let’s not forget that these island States are not only interlinked by geography, but also interlinked by the economy, so when one country suffers, all countries suffer,” Mr. Guterres said.

Secretary-General António Guterres delivers remarks at High-Level Pledging Conference: Building a more Climate-resilient Community. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

He noted that extreme weather is becoming the new normal and sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870. Over the past 30 years, the number of annual climate-related disasters has nearly tripled and economic losses have quintupled.

Countries in the Caribbean need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN Member States.

But financing is a key challenge for many Caribbean countries, which have limited access to concessional finance because of their ‘middle income’ classification. They also have high levels of debt, much of it incurred through investment in recovery and resilience.

Caribbean countries are also paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year in remittance fees. Disaster insurance has also proved inadequate to this unprecedented hurricane season. Debt instruments should be sensitive to the ability to pay, and have catastrophe clauses built in.

“In short: we need a new and better deal for the Caribbean, if these countries are to build climate resilience and achieve the SDGs,” Mr. Guterres said, urging international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms.

“Today must be about more than speeches and pledges,” he said. “It is an opportunity to forge a partnership for a better future, and to deepen a vision for recovery that brings together all actors and puts people at its centre, as active development agents.”

Also addressing the conference was UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák, who highlighted three key steps the international community can take.

We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies.General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcák

First is commitment to support the rebuilding effort. Funding and technical assistance are urgently needed to help the affected countries to get back on their feet. Housing, telecommunications, water and sanitation, healthcare services and education facilities are needed.

Second is to rebuild with greater resilience, he said, commending CARICOM’s goal of becoming the first climate-resilient region in the world.

Third, he continued, there is a need to recognize that small island developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and external shocks. To compound this, middle income small island developing Stated face inadequate access to grant and concessional funding because of how their development is measured.

“We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies,” he said.

New Zealand tourism industry launches new SDG-focussed sustainability commiment

Tourism Industry Aotearoa has today launched the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment, establishing eight Goals for the tourism industry to attain by 2025. Individual businesses are being invited to adopt 14 Commitments designed to support the industry to reach the Goals. A new website www.sustainabletourism.nz has also been launched.

According to TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts, The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment is a response to the boom times experienced by the industry in recent years. “The Tourism 2025 aspirational goal to reach $41 billion a year in total tourism revenue is on track to be achieved a number of years earlier than 2025,” he said. “This has generated many business and employment opportunities, as well as benefitting New Zealand’s economy and communities across the country. Financially sustainable businesses are able to invest in environmental and social sustainability, maintaining and enhancing New Zealand for future generations of residents and visitors. We know some tourism businesses are already operating in line with the 14 Commitments, or exceeding them. That’s a good start. It is our goal that every tourism business in New Zealand will commit to operating sustainably. The greater the buy-in, the more powerful it will be. We want a New Zealand where our economy, people and the environment are better off because tourism exists. Together, we can create a world-leading example of a truly sustainable tourism industry that will make a positive long-term contribution to New Zealand.”

To track the tourism industry’s progress, TIA will measure and report annually against each of the eight Goals and also on the level of tourism business uptake of the 14 Commitments. More than 40 leading tourism businesses have already agreed to sign up to the Tourism Sustainability Commitment.

“As progress is achieved against the Commitments, the target levels will be raised to reflect higher expectations of industry performance. By 2025, we want every New Zealand tourism business to be adopting most, if not all, of the 14 Commitments within their business practices,” Roberts said.

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Equality in tourism launches crowdfunding campaign to support Tanzanian women farmers

Women’s network Equality in Tourism today launched a crowdfunding campaign for a groundbreaking initiative in Tanzania that could join the dots between the livelihoods of local communities and lucrative tourism industries across the developing world. Equality, which is dedicated to ensuring that women have a voice in global tourism, is looking to raise £16,600 by 20 December 2017. This will be used to fund the initial six-month phase of training and development for 30 women farmers in Mailisita in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The aim is to form a farming and business collective that will provide the area’s hospitality sector with an easy supply of fresh food. Already, local hotels and tour operators have expressed a keen interest in the project, with the scene set to create powerful and lasting partnerships.

The exciting pilot project will be delivered by Equality’s locally managed team, which will train, mentor and empower these aspiring entrepreneurs. The women will learn how to farm, store and sell their produce more effectively, build their business more efficiently, and become stronger decision-makers with greater financial stability both at home and in their communities. (See Notes to Editors, below, for suggested donations and what they can achieve.)

Thousands of tourists visit Kilimanjaro each year and use the area as a gateway to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Farming families living in the shadow of the mountain and the booming tourist industry that surrounds it currently subsist on work as seasonal day labourers and produce grown on the family plot. A typical family income is about £8 a week. “Most of us expect to travel, go on holiday and see the world around us, but what happens when you live in one of these hot-spot destinations yet cannot afford to take your family to the doctor or buy fertiliser to farm your land?” says Dr Barnett. “Until now, no one has thought about connecting these women to the profitable local tourism industry. This is what we have suggested to them and this is what they really want to do. We also want to make sure that when people go on holiday they can relax knowing that the locals are benefiting from their visits.”

Suggested donations and what they can achieve:

  • £5 – Thank you! You win a place in our hearts and our land at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro (unlimited hearts to be won).
  • £12 – You will supply much-needed seeds for these women farmers to start sowing the ground and earning for their families’ future (unlimited seeds to be sown).
  • £25 – A huge thank you! Your gift will buy the equipment each farmer needs to ensure that her newly grown produce gets to her new market, making it quicker, easier and more likely that the hotels will buy from her time and time again. (Thirty phones and satellite chargers need to be bought.)
  • £77 – Thank you! By investing in us, you will help train each woman to save her money, buy books and uniforms for school, and build for the future. (Thirty women need to be trained.)
  • £267 – Your donation is enough to pay for one woman to take part in this project for three months, offering her the chance learn, test and refine her new skills in planning crops and planting fields.
  • £1,170 – Your investment will make sure that two of our women have six full months of training, advice and support to kick-start their farms and new business.
  • £8,300 – Thank you so much. Your gift will enable our local partner to run the whole project, for all 30 women, for three of our planned six months. This will make a huge difference to the lives of the women, their families and the community as a whole.

Follow developments at Equality in Tourism on Twitter at @EqualityTourism, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EqualityInTourism and on LinkedIn at Equality in Tourism.

For more information, visit the crowdfunding page.

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Tourist companies on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula say no to plastics

Tourist businesses affiliated with the Chamber of Tourism of Osa (CATUOSA) have signed a pledge to eliminate the use of plastic containers, bags and other plastic disposable items in shops, bars and restaurants in the Osa Peninsula region in southern Costa Rica.

Companies plan to substitute single-use plastics and styrofoam packages like utensils, cups, plates, straws and bags for biodegradable items made from bamboo, cloth, starches, cereals, hemp, and other eco-friendly materials.

The move by Costa Rica’s southern Pacific businesses serves as an “example of a sustainable community effort for the world,” said Minister of Environment and Energy Edgar Gutiérrez, who attended the event. The minister said he would present the initiative to the United Nations in order to raise awareness of efforts to eliminate plastics globally.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published by the Costa Rica Star.

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Hawai‘i Tourism Authority awarding USD 3.5m to foster community tourism programmes in 2018

In keeping with its commitment to foster sustainable tourism in the Hawaiian Islands, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) is providing funding of more than $3.5 million to 124 programs that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture, protecting natural resources and showcasing community events in 2018. Recipients of the funding are nonprofit groups, community organizations and individuals statewide who have demonstrated through proposals submitted to HTA their dedication to strengthen the enduring qualities of Hawai‘i’s legacy that distinguish the islands as a place to live and visit.

“Sustainable tourism starts at the community level and that’s the focus of our support for initiatives by groups and individuals who have pledged to make Hawai‘i a better place for future generations,” said George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO. “Collectively, these community-based programs will help manage tourism’s impacts by preserving the quality of life we treasure as residents through culture, the environment and the sharing of festivals and events ingrained in the traditions of Hawai‘i’s people.” Funding is being provided to recipients on all islands for usage in 2018 as part of three HTA program categories: Kūkulu Ola, Aloha ‘Āina and Community Enrichment. HTA issued a request for proposals on June 21 with submittals from qualified applicants received by August 4.

• A total of $1,240,000 is being awarded to 33 recipients that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture through HTA’s Kūkulu Ola program. Awardees include community groups, practitioners, craftsmen, musicians and artists committed to strengthening a broader understanding and appreciation of Hawaiian culture through place-based activity engagement. Founded on the value of ma ka hana ka ‘ike (in working one learns), the Kūkulu Ola program assists recipients steeped in ‘ike Hawai‘i to share within communities the Hawaiian values inherent in each respective practice.

• A total of $1,150,000 is being awarded to 26 recipients that are helping to protect Hawai‘i’s natural resources through HTA’s Aloha ‘Āina program. Focused on the lasting value of stewardship by responsible community-based entities that emphasize ‘āina-kānaka relationships and knowledge, the Aloha ‘Āina program supports efforts to manage, conserve and revitalize Hawai‘i’s natural resources and environment.

• A total of $1,153,300 is being awarded to 65 recipients through HTA’s Community Enrichment program, which supports quality experiences created by communities to be shared with residents and visitors for their enjoyment. The Community Enrichment program invests in a diverse array of festivals, events and year-round programs in support of culture, education, health and wellness, nature, agriculture, sports, technology and voluntourism.

Click here for the full list of awardees receiving funding from HTA.

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CREST publishes report of latest quotes and statistics to support development of sustainable tourism

Every year, the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), collaborating with leading tourism organizations, including Sustainable Travel International, publishes what’s come to be known, shorthand, as “Trends & Statistics.” This report is a compilation of facts, quotations, data, and resources designed to advance the practice of responsible travel worldwide. Because the United Nations named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we modeled this year’s content on the five “pillars” the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) created for the international year. Those pillars, or ways in which sustainable tourism facilitates a destination’s development, are:

  • Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
  • Social inclusiveness, employment, and poverty reduction
  • Resource efficiency, environmental protection, and climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Cultural values, diversity, and heritage
  • Mutual understanding, peace, and security

This year’s “Trends & Statistics” approaches these challenges one UNWTO pillar, or key sustainable development tool, at a time. And it does so via four sub-categories: what the experts say about the tool, followed by how consumers, businesses, and destinations themselves make use of it.

Download the report here

This is an excerpt from an article first published by Rick Shea on the Sustainable Travel International website.

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