UNWTO, ASEAN Discuss Tourism and Climate Change

unwto-asean28 May 2014: Participants examined tourism's ability to both mitigate and withstand climate change at the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change. Asia-Pacific leaders discussed how to ensure the tourist sector, which is experiencing above-average growth, continues to contribute to development and does so sustainably.

In opening remarks, Benigno Aquino III, President, the Philippines, described how his country has integrated climate change into local, sectoral and national planning. He encouraged other ASEAN countries to take action to increase their resilience to climate change.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai urged participants "to position the fight against climate change at the heart of the tourism agenda." He also highlighted that mitigation efforts undertaken in the tourism industry can also increase growth, create green jobs and lower operational costs.

Ninety percent of global climate-related disasters occur in the Asia-Pacific, according to a forthcoming study by UNWTO and the University of Queensland. To address these disasters, the Conference stressed that technological, economic and social changes must be taken into account, while involving a wide range of stakeholders.

Participants suggested that the dynamic, innovative nature of the tourism industry can help the industry be a leader in adapting to constraints caused by climate change, as well as in offering solutions. Noting that both providers and consumers must be involved in addressing climate change, participants stressed that increased awareness and responsibility among individuals can help reform the tourist sector to address climate change.

The conference took place in Legazpi, the Philippines, from 18-20 May 2014. Over 200 participants from the tourism industry and government attended, representing 18 countries. The 26th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia convened in conjunction with the Conference.[UNWTO Press Release] [UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change Website]