July 23, 2020
Can tourism still be a force for good?
Environmental Social Governance – ESG – seems to have gained a renewed importance in the face of recent events and developments.
We have seen social unrest – in particular in the US around the BLM movement – hit the political and social dialogue in full force at the same time as businesses & families are dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last few months have made it very clear that social, environmental and health issues are all interrelated in a highly intrinsic way, and a conversation on one of these issues cannot exclude the other topics.
The big American Fund BlackRock calculates that 88 per cent of “a globally-representative selection” of sustainability indices outperformed their non-sustainability peers over the first four months of 2020. Indeed, the pattern is so striking that Al Gore, the former US vice-president, tells the FT that “investors who do not recognise this new reality . . . are in serious danger of violating their fiduciary responsibility to their clients by leaving money on the table, and not taking into account factors that can actually improve performance of companies” (FT – 8th July 2020).
It is still too early to say who, apart from the airlines, will be the bearers of the biggest consequences of this pandemic. Will it be business travel, all-inclusive holidays, cruise ships (which per se can never be sustainable anyhow) or resorts in remote destinations which often exist alongside economically weak communities?
It is of course often also these communities which are most exposed to the consequences of extreme weather changes and climate change.
In view of all of these very challenging issues, the UNWTO has launched it’s ‘One Planet Vision for the responsible recovery of the Tourism Sector’ to help us all #buildbackbetter and above all with the aim to emerge stronger and more sustainable from this crisis.
We were honoured to have been asked to contribute our view to this paper and have provided some more information in the newsletter.
In addition, we have worked as an active member of the Advisory Group set up by UNEP in collaboration with the UNWTO for the launch of the ‘Global Tourism Plastics Initiative’ which has now gone live. Tourism businesses can now sign up and be an active part of moving the sector away from single-use plastics.
As with many of you, we were also very active in the digital space and participated in many panel discussions and virtual events covering the various aspects of how sustainability will be redefined coming out of this crisis. We have listed all of the events and relevant links, so you can watch those of interest which you might have missed.
Last but not least, our team has been busy putting together a series of informative webinars, which many of you joined, and we thank you for your support. We covered topics from Certifications to Legislation, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Hygiene & Sustainability, the Importance of Technology and have one further session outstanding on Sustainable Purchasing and Procurement on the 29th of July.