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, celebrated today 22 May 2017. On this occasion, UNWTO is launching a capacity building program on sustainable tourism and biodiversity protection, to be implemented in West and Central Africa.
The program will build on previous tourism and biodiversity seminars that UNWTO successfully delivered in The Gambia, Ghana, and Tanzania and will address biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, taking into account the importance of this topic to safeguard future opportunities for local people to generate income from sustainable tourism development.
The seminars to be held staring June 2017 will focus on building capacities of tourism stakeholders and on maintaining and improving the quality of the tourism product to enhance client satisfaction in the following countries: Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea [Conakry], and Niger.
Primary beneficiaries of the capacity building program are tourism employees and small entrepreneurs at the grass root level who will be encouraged to act as champions for biodiversity conversation and environmental protection in their enterprises and communities.
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 was released on the occasion of COP 13, (the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) held in Mexico last December.
The Declaration 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.
Through these training seminars, UNWTO continues its long-standing work in strengthening capacities of tourism stakeholders in gaining a better understanding of the relationship between tourism and environmental protection, developing tourism products based on the unique biodiversity in a destination and using tourism development as an incentive to invest in biodiversity conservation and environmental protection.