UNWTO Webinar QUO VADIS TOURISM: “Agenda 2030 and SDGs in times of COVID-19” – What kind of tourism meets the Future We Want?

May 27, UNWTO hosted a very relevant webinar if to find answers on some pressing questions about tourism after COVID-19. What kind of tourism meets the Future We Want, meaning the Agenda 2030, which all governments in the world had agreed to when in 2015 committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? What kind of tourism has the chance to recover? Or what kind of tourism should actually recover and therefore should receive support from governments? If interested in some of the answers, the webinar can still be revisited on YouTube

LT&C in its presentation during the webinar had put the focus on the green and blue SDGs, 6, 13, 14 & 15, meaning Water, Climate, and Biodiversity on Sea and Land, as we believe they are most important if the Future We Want should be achieved. Tourism, besides Education, is in a unique position to potentially support all the 17 SDGs. LT&C’s mission is to showcase, where tourism is supporting biodiversity (SDGs 14&15), more specifically protected areas, and has so far published 40 such LT&C-Examples.

The tourism sector ranks presently as one of the hardest hitten by the Corona crisis and therefore receives a lot of attention. However, present debates on helping tourism businesses to survive or recover often neglect the question of what kind of tourism we really need to reach the Future We Want (as defined by the SDGs). On the other hand government representatives increasingly defend their extremely large financial help packages by emphasising that they will be distributed in a targeted manner. What could make Corona-help to tourism more targeted and in line with what all governments already in 2015 agreed to, then looking for tourism cases, which can proof SDG-support? LT&C highlighted at the webinar in this context the recently communicated EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 with its statement “Investing in nature protection and restoration will also be critical for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis”. Some initial suggestions for targeted financing of tourism where provided in the LT&C-presentation at the UNWTO webinar:

Not only a short term message for World Biodiversity Day (May 22): The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 brings Biodiversity very high on the international agenda for a whole decade.

Two days before World Biodiversity Day (May 22), the EU Commission communicated its Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: “Bringing nature back into our lives”. This is a very important and ambitios strategy, which hopefully motivates also governments in other parts of the world to follow or even compete with. It puts Biodiversity highest on governments agenda, and not without reason if we just read the introduction of the EU communication:

From the world’s great rainforests to small parks and gardens, from the blue whale to microscopic fungi, biodiversity is the extraordinary variety of life on Earth. We humans are part of, and fully dependent on, this web of life: it gives us the food we eat, filters the water we drink, and supplies the air we breathe. Nature is as important for our mental and physical wellbeing as it is for our society’s ability to cope with global change, health threats and disasters. We need nature in our lives.”

The strategy also responds to the present COVID-19 crisis: “Investing in nature protection and restoration will also be critical for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. When restarting the economy, it is crucial to avoid falling back and locking ourselves into damaging old habits. The European Green Deal – the EU’s growth strategy – will be the compass for our recovery, ensuring that the economy serves people and society and gives back to nature more than it takes away.” – This could also be related to LT&C’s position that governments, which put out enormous financial support to the tourism industry for surviving the Corona-crisis, may prioritize those businesses, which have a proven history of supporting the protection of biodiversity. LT&C-Examples should be of high relevance in this context.

The EU-Biodiversity Strategy also emphasizes the high importance of protected areas to safeguard nature: “Biodiversity fares better in protected areas. However, the current network of legally protected areas, including those under strict protection, is not sufficiently large to safeguard biodiversity. Evidence shows that the targets defined under the Convention on Biological Diversity are insufficient to adequately protect and restore nature. Global efforts are needed and the EU itself needs to do more and better for nature and build a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network.” The EU is thereby joining or even leading the movement to safeguard global biodiversity (known as #30×30) by advocating for the 30% target for 2030: “For the good of our environment and our economy, and to support the EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we need to protect more nature. In this spirit, at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea should be protected in the EU.

And about financing The European Green Deal the EU Commission states: “To meet the needs of this strategy, including investment priorities for Natura 2000 and green infrastructure, at least €20 billion a year should be unlocked for spending on nature. This will require mobilising private and public funding at national and EUlevel71, including through a range of different programmes in the next long-term EU budget. Moreover, as nature restoration will make a major contribution to climate objectives, a significant proportion of the 25% of the EU budget dedicated to climate action will be invested in biodiversity and nature-based solutions.” 

Download and read the full text of this important biodiversity commitment of the EU:

COVID-19: Biodiversity and Biodiversity-supporting tourism need to come up much higher on the world’s agenda!

The present Corona-times imply significant challenges for the entire tourism sector, including our members, who stay behind our important 39 LT&C-Examples. On the other hand, times also provide prospects that the governments and others in the world will have to put much more emphasis focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they all had agreed already in 2015. That means much more focus on those types of tourism, which support SDGs. From our perspective, the highest priority should go to the biodiversity SDGs 14 & 15, respectively related forms of tourism. Therefore, LT&C has to play an even more critical role. We need to raise an increasing discussion with our LT&C-Example providers, how their essential work can be secured, upscaled and replicated.

Biodiversity-supporting tourism needs to come up much higher on the world’s agenda!

Read in this context also the guest article, which has been published yesterday by the three co-chairs of the IPBES Global Assessment Report, together with IPBES nexus assessment scoping expert Dr. Peter Daszak. Click here to read this article in  عربى / español / English / français / русский /中文 / Deutsch. The title and main message of this article are:

COVID-19 Stimulus Measures Must 
Save Lives, Protect Livelihoods, and Safeguard Nature
to Reduce the Risk of Future Pandemics

LT&C recently has approached all providers of LT&C-Examples to share information about their present situation, ideas and activities to overcome the present challenges. We like to republish herewith the emergency call of our member and LT&C-Example provider Basecamp Explorer

MARA NABOISHO CONSERVANCY URGENTLY NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT TO CONTINUE

Norway’s first LT&C-Example: Lista Landscape

Despite the fact that many visit Norway because of its nature and beautiful landscapes, it so far has been surprisingly difficult to identify a single Norwegian example, where tourism is clearly supporting the establishment or positive development of protected areas. And neither Innovation Norway’s or the tourism industries’ sustainability strategies contain clear references to the Sustainable Development Goals or specifically the SDGs 14 and 15 for protecting nature. When now South-Norway’s Lista Landscape became the first LT&C-Example in Norway, it may encourage others in the country to come up with more examples.

The Lista landscape has been protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund municipality. Tourism played an essential role in positive conservation outcomes. In 1987-88, ten vitally important lake and wetland areas became protected as nature reserves. These included shallow coves on the coast, dune landscapes, marsh and swamp areas, and shallow and nutrient-rich lakes. Specific plant and animal life are in the focus of this type of protection. In 1996 these areas were assigned joint status as a RAMSAR site due to their importance for migrating birds and their characteristics known as the Lista Wetland System. Lista is known for having many rare and threatened bird species and is the location in Norway where the highest number of different bird species are observed each year.

One of the only recently restored wetlands is Slevdalsvannet. The area is just aside or part of a former NATO-airbase. And where formerly depots of atomic weapons should be installed, today cattle are grazing and bird observation hides have been built (see the first picture below). It is a picture that nature comes back and takes over a formerly much more used and drained wetland. An area where cranes, lapwings, common snipes, garganeys and marsh harriers are nesting, and skylarks singing in the air.

Through continuous land-use planning and amendments of management plans, the municipality aims to preserve the Lista landscape in context with sustainable farming, local businesses and tourism. 

As a short term project, Farsund Municipality, Agder County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration collaborate actively to establish a national touring bike trail along the entire Lista coast. The hiking trail is called Vita Velo and focuses on architecture and cultural heritage as well as unique experiences in the Lista landscape. As a first step, a 15-kilometre route with rest areas and bike racks with charging points for e-bikes have been established already in 2019 in the western part of Lista. 

The work on what is called “Selected Agricultural Landscapes” is also open to creativity and future planning. Such areas, established by voluntary agreements between the landowners/stakeholders and the Government on 540 hectares in 2009 and expanded to 1,100 hectares in 2018, combine advantages and benefits for agriculture, tourism, conservation, local culture and trade development. 

Recently, a management plan, including a visitor strategy, has been drawn up for the shores of Lista. A key focus of the policy is to enable sustainable economic growth and nature protection. Lista Fyr AS worked together with the Administration of Farsund municipality and the Agder County Governor in making the Visitor Strategy for Lista. A wide selection of local stakeholders contributed to the process. It is believed that the close connection between Tourism and Conservation in Lista Fyr AS will be fruitful for the future development of Lista and Farsund.

South-Norway’s Lista Landscape: protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund Municipality

South-Norway’s Lista Landscape: protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund Municipality

With its open agricultural landscape and wide horizons reaching out towards the sea, Lista has fascinated and attracted residents, tourists and artists for generations. The landscape is flat, the soil fertile, and the coast dramatic and beautiful. Lista has miles of sandy beaches. Visitors are today attracted by the sea, high sky, forces of nature, birds and the magnificent landscape. The local administration of the Farsund municipality was among the first to act according to the Norwegian adaptation of a new Nature Conservation Act with a mission statement based on the Council of Europe’s definition of nature conservation. In 1976 the municipality administration established the “Lista Committee”, whose primary goal was to coordinate the conservation interests in Lista with other land-use interests. The Lista Committee outlined an arrangement involving dialogue between the county governor and the affected parties, meetings and inspections. Before the final conservation proposal was prepared and submitted to the ministry, all of the bodies and individuals, who could be impacted by potential conservation measures, had the opportunity to provide statements. The local government would manage the conflicts of interest and weigh these up. The Lista Committee’s recommendation was the starting point for Farsund municipality’s unique partnership on the Lista landscape and a working method in line with what the European Landscape Convention later has recommended. Today we can report the implementation of all the conservation initiatives (protection orders) approved by the Lista Committee. A direct result of the local democracy in Farsund Municipality is the achievement of 29 areas, which are purchased from the landowners and established as government-protected outdoor recreation areas. They include different kinds of officially protected areas.

Lista Wetland System

  In the extensive democratic process, the interests of tourism were involved and played an essential role in the positive conservation outcomes: One of them is the landscape protected area “Lista Beaches”, established already in 1987. The objective of the protection was to preserve unique natural and cultural landscape with particular beach types and geological, botanical, zoological and cultural-historical characteristics of high conservation value. In 1987-88, ten vitally important lake and wetland areas followed by becoming protected as nature reserves. These included shallow coves on the coast, dune landscapes, marsh and swamp areas, and shallow and nutrient-rich lakes. Specific plant and animal life are in the focus of this type of protection. In 1996 these areas were assigned joint status as a RAMSAR site due to their importance for migrating birds and their characteristics known as the Lista Wetland System. Lista is known for having many rare and threatened bird species and is the location in Norway where the highest number of different bird species are observed each year.

Today the municipality is managing the visitors to the area by, among others, providing education services and marking hiking paths and bike trails. It includes a separate Coastal Trail of approximately 40 km. The roads in the wind farm established in 2012 in the northern heath areas are practical for hiking and cycling. The “Skjærgårdspark” can be accessed both from the mainland and from the sea. To preserve the specific cultural landscape and to prevent overgrowth, specific grazing management is in place. For example, the municipality has hired in “coastal goats” to keep the vegetation down along the Lista beaches.

The Visitor Centre Wetland Lista opened at Lista Lighthouse Station in 2015 as a nationally authorized visitor Centre. It is an outcome of the project “Sørnorsk kystnatur” (Southern Norwegian Coastal Nature) which is part of the development programme “Naturarven som verdiskaper” (Natural heritage as a creator of value). The purpose of the project was to provide education and nature experiences through nature conservation areas. The working hypothesis is that a greater understanding of natural assets by non-experts through the increased use, including commercial, of nature conservation areas, will strengthen this protection. Through this project, Slevdalsvannet and several other places in Lista have established various types of observation sites and provide universal access for people to experience the unique nature and birdlife in Lista. The objective of Visitor Centre Wetland Lista is to increase the visitors’ understanding of the wetlands nature, also as valuable to us as humans. The guides carefully organize the visits to this unique natural environment for any group or private person. Knowledge communication of how natural assets can be protected focuses on new generations. It should ensure that they “inherit” the pride of their own “everyday landscape” and the willingness to make extra efforts for its long-term protection. The conservation project of the Lista landscape is a case of preserving a living landscape with understanding and support of its visitors.

The activities of Visitor Centre Wetland Lista is today organized in the company Lista Fyr AS (Lista Lighthouse Inc), owned by Farsund municipality. From 2020 the company is in charge of local tourism, known as destination management office (DMO). Apart from education and information, the company’s primary objective is to link tourism and conservation in a sustainable way for the future.

 

Through continuous land-use planning and amendments of management plans, the municipality aims to preserve the Lista landscape in context with sustainable farming, local businesses and tourism. 

As a short term project, Farsund Municipality, Agder County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration collaborate actively to establish a national touring bike trail along the entire Lista coast. The hiking trail is called Vita Velo and focuses on architecture and cultural heritage as well as unique experiences in the Lista landscape. As a first step, a 15-kilometre route with rest areas and bike racks with charging points for e-bikes have been established already in 2019 in the western part of Lista. 

The work on what is called “Selected Agricultural Landscapes” is also open to creativity and future planning. Such areas, established by voluntary agreements between the landowners/stakeholders and the Government on 540 hectares in 2009 and expanded to 1,100 hectares in 2018, combine advantages and benefits for agriculture, tourism, conservation, local culture and trade development. 

Recently, a management plan, including a visitor strategy, has been drawn up for the shores of Lista. A key focus of the policy is to enable sustainable economic growth and nature protection. Lista Fyr AS worked together with the Administration of Farsund municipality and the Agder County Governor in making the Visitor Strategy for Lista. A wide selection of local stakeholders contributed to the process. We believe that the close connection between Tourism and Conservation in Lista Fyr AS will be fruitful in the future development of Lista and Farsund.

The Lista landscape case of stakeholder involvement, dialogue and cooperation, resulting in a cluster of different types of protected areas, is an LT&C-Example, which could gain the attention of other municipalities or regions, particularly in Norway. It relates to both typical Norwegian policies and cultures as well as to international standards. Lista Fyr AS and Farsund municipality are open to sharing their model and partner with other destinations interested to learn from Lista’s experiences.