UN General Assembly to promote ecotourism

Last month the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution in support of ecotourism. The resolution, introduced as part of a consideration of poverty and other development issues,  stated, in part, that the General Assembly:

2. Recognizes that the development of ecotourism, within the framework of sustainable tourism, can have a positive impact on income generation, job creation and education, and thus on the fight against poverty and hunger, and can contribute directly to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals;

3. Also recognizes the potential of ecotourism to reduce poverty by improving individual livelihoods in local communities and to generate resources for community development projects;

4. Emphasizes the need to optimize the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits stemming from ecotourism activities in all countries, particularly developing countries, including African countries, the least developed countries and small island developing States;

5. Also emphasizes that ecotourism can contribute to sustainable development, in particular environment protection, and improve the well-being of local and indigenous communities;

6. Recognizes that ecotourism creates significant opportunities for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and of natural areas by encouraging local and indigenous communities in host countries and tourists alike to preserve and respect the natural and cultural heritage;

7. Underlines, in this regard, the importance of establishing, at the national level, where necessary, appropriate policies, guidelines and regulations, in accordance with national priorities and legislation, for promoting and supporting ecotourism, within the framework of sustainable tourism, and minimizing its potential negative impact;

8. Invites Governments, international organizations, other relevant institutions and other stakeholders, as appropriate, to highlight and support best practices in relation to the implementation of relevant policies, guidelines and regulations in the ecotourism sector and to implement and disseminate existing guidelines;

9. Encourages Governments at all levels to use ecotourism, within the framework of sustainable tourism, as a tool to support poverty alleviation, environmental protection and/or biodiversity conservation, and to base the tourism components on clear evidence of market demand and a sound economic base;

10. Encourages Member States to promote investment in ecotourism, in accordance with their national legislation, which may include creating small- and medium-sized enterprises, promoting cooperatives and facilitating access to finance through inclusive financial services, including microcredit initiatives for the poor, local and indigenous communities in areas with high ecotourism potential, including rural areas;

11. Underlines the importance of conducting an environmental impact assessment, in accordance with national legislation, for the development of ecotourism opportunities;

12. Stresses that indigenous cultures, traditions and knowledge, in all their aspects, are to be fully considered, respected and promoted in ecotourism policy development, within the framework of sustainable tourism, and underlines the importance of promoting the full and early participation and involvement of local and indigenous communities in decisions that affect them and of integrating indigenous and local knowledge, heritage and values in any such ecotourism initiatives, as appropriate;

13. Emphasizes the need for effective measures in the context of ecotourism initiatives to ensure the full empowerment of women, including equal participation of women and men at all levels and in decision-making processes in all areas;

14. Calls upon the United Nations system, in the context of the global campaign for the Millennium Development Goals, to promote ecotourism, within the framework of sustainable tourism, as an instrument that can contribute to achieving those Goals, in particular the Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and of ensuring environmental sustainability, and to support the efforts and policies of developing countries in this field;

15. Encourages the regional and international financial institutions to provide adequate support to programmes and projects related to ecotourism, taking into account the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits of such activities;

16. Invites relevant specialized agencies, in particular the World Tourism Organization, United Nations bodies and other organizations, to provide technical assistance to Governments, upon request, to assist, as appropriate, in strengthening legislative or policy frameworks for ecotourism and their implementation in the context of sustainable tourism, including those for environmental protection and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage;

17. Invites all stakeholders to cooperate in supporting, as appropriate, local and indigenous community participation in ecotourism activities;

18. Invites the public and private sectors and relevant stakeholders to provide, upon request, assistance for capacity-building, developing specific guidelines and awareness-raising materials and training for people involved in the ecotourism sector, such as language training and training in specific skills in tourism services, as well as to develop or strengthen partnerships, especially in protected areas, within the framework of sustainable tourism;

19. Recognizes the role of North-South cooperation in promoting ecotourism as a means to achieve economic growth, to reduce inequalities and to improve living standards in developing countries, and also recognizes that South-South and triangular cooperation, as complements to North-South cooperation, have potential for promoting ecotourism;

20. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-ninth session, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization and other relevant United Nations agencies and programmes, a report on the implementation of the present resolution, including recommendations on ways and means to promote ecotourism as a tool for fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development, taking into account relevant reports prepared by the World Tourism Organization in this field.

Gallon Environment Letter has long been an advocate for environmentally responsible tourism as a mechanism for environmental advancement and promotion of greater international harmony.

The full General Assembly resolution, which was adopted on 21st December 2012, as far as we know without amendment and by consensus, can be found in the UN Committee Report at http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N12/644/81/PDF/N1264481.pdf?OpenElement

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