The Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations has chosen ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’ as the theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity. The celebration takes places annually on 22 May. The decision aims at supporting the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development which is being commemorated worldwide throughout 2017.
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, declared by the United Nations General Assembly, emphasizes among others the role of the tourism sector in the preservation of ecosystems and in raising awareness on the uniqueness of biodiversity.
Following these principles, the Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations has decided to dedicate the International Day for Biological Diversity, which is yearly celebrated on May 22 to ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’.
Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.
Tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For some Targets (for example 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12) this is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others (1, 11, 15, 18, and 20) this is about pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. A further dimension is the better integration of biodiversity and sustainability into development policies and business models that include tourism, thereby supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2 and 4.
Celebration of the IDB under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Furthermore, the theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns and to promote the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.
“We very much welcome the decision taken by the Convention on Biological Diversity to emphasize the link between tourism and biodiversity,” commented UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Tourism is one of the best placed sectors to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development and, with the right policies in place, to preserving ecosystems, biodiversity and natural heritage”.
The contribution of tourism to conservation is increasingly recognized by the international community. The Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Wellbeing released on the occasion of COP 13 (the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) held in Mexico last December, recalls that “tourism is an excellent vehicle to use in spreading environmental awareness worldwide, not to mention the livelihood support it provides for communities living in and around reserves and natural areas” and recognises that tourism can be an enabling agent of change.