European Environment Ministers Agree to Promote Transformation of European Tourism

Delegates from across the Pan-European region agreed to promote the transformation of the tourism sector, through the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program, and help the sector recover from the damages caused by the COVID-related restrictions, during the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Environment for Europee.

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“The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, launched by UNWTO and partners at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), and the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, a joint initiative from UNWTO and UNEP were both referenced as key initiatives to help guide the transformation of the sector,” the statement issued by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reads, reports.

According to UNWTO, the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program co-organized a side event on “Tourism and Circulation for Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean”, from which a new repository of tools and resources focused on the circular economy and tourism was launched.

In addition, two new publications were also introduced by the Global Plastics Tourism Initiative on measurement and procurement produced with financial support from the Government of France.

In this regard, the Secretary General of UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili said that for businesses, the circular economy can bring competitive advantages.

“For destinations, it can build more inclusive local value chains. And for tourists, it’s an opportunity to leave a positive footprint. I encourage Europe’s Environment Ministers to build synergies with their counterparts in Ministries of Tourism to implement the circular economy in the tourism sector,” he also added.

Speaking at the Ministerial Conference, State Secretary for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Croatia, Mario Šiljeg, also emphasized the importance of tourism for European economies and the significant benefits of “embracing innovative approaches, especially moving away from traditional relations of the value chain, adopting more systematic circular models of production and consumption”.

At the same time, the Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania, Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi, explained a plenary discussion directed at the Application of CE Principles in Tourism’, with contributions from countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ukraine, Germany, Greece, Armenia, and the European Union.

Furthermore, the EU issued a statement in which they recommended the Glasgow Declaration and the Global Plastics Tourism Initiative as tools to advance the goals of making the sector more sustainable.

Through the ministerial declaration, the delegates emphasized that the transformation of the tourism sector will be promoted by implementing targeted programs and projects.

In addition, they noted that knowledge will be built based on existing circular tools and initiatives, with the aim of enabling further dissemination and extension in the respective ECE member states.