Cancun Declaration puts emphasis on positive potential of linking conservation and tourism

At the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP13 CBD), which presently takes place in Cancun/Mexico, Ministers agreed on important global goals in their Cancun Declaration. More than ever in a similar conference the positive potentials of the links between  conservation and tourism are highlighted. This can also be interpreted that the mission of LT&C, which understands itself as a support organisation to the so called Aichi Targets of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is gaining ground.

The ministers and other heads of delegations from all over the world declared at their meeting on 2 and 3 December as their first point: “It is essential to live in harmony with nature and mother earth, as a fundamental condition for the well-being of all life, which screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-46-46depends on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it underpins.

They emphasise the advantage that the Global Goals for 2030 (the Sustainable Development Goals; SDGs) strongly reflects biodiversity providing “a perspective that integrates environmental, economic and social dimensions”. And they explicitly mention tourism and the World Tourism Organisation when encouraging closer cooperation and synergies among relevant organisations of the United Nations system… and other international initiatives and processes…

And another important point of the ministers’ commitments relates to the mission of LT&C:   They want to “Increase and strengthen ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.”

Bearing in mind that some specific economic sectors, among them tourism, heavily depend on biodiversity and that these sectors also impact biodiversity, they are also “committed to undertake specific actions for each sector as described in the guidance annexed to this Declaration”.

For the tourism sector the annexed Guidance state the following:

Tourists at LT&C-Study Tour on the Falklands – in harmony with nature. Photo: Peter Prokosch

“The tourism sector is one of the major sectors in the global economy. Nature-based tourism relies on biodiversity and diverse ecosystems to attract tourists. Tourism can contribute directly to the conservation of sensitive areas and habitats through a variety of activities such as park-entrance fees and by raising awareness of the importance of biodiversity. There are pathways for ensuring the long-term sustainability of tourism while ensuring that it positively contributes to biodiversity, including:

  1. Integrate biodiversity into policies and models of economic and social development for tourism as an enabling agent for change;
  2. Promote tourism linkages which support decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation in the tourism sector and beyond;
  3. Implement responsible business practices;
  4. Consolidate tourism as a source of quality jobs, investment, training and development to improve peoples’ livelihoods, including working with indigenous and local communities to support their aspirations;
  5. Promote tourism as a rewarding experience for visitors, while improving the appreciation, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
  6. Encourage the adoption of practices for sustainable green and blue infrastructure, sustainable production and consumption, the conservation of landscapes and ecosystems, the use of land planning and the promotion of cultural values associated with biodiversity;
  7. Promote the development and use of technologies to transform tourism into a preservation tool for biological diversity;
  8. Implement the World Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Program;
  9. Invest in educational programmes for tourism operators so they can better understand the importance of biodiversity in their work;
  10. Develop and support institutional frameworks to support the development of sustainable tourism; and
  11. Invest in capacity-building programmes on biodiversity for the tourism sector.”

For LT&C and its members from tourism and conservation this provides both valuable guidance as well as the confirmation that our mission and the activities of our members (penguins) have increasing and recognised potentials to contribute to important and globally agreed goals.


You can follow the United Nations Biodiversity Conference conference life from where you are to learn more about important outcomes in relation to linking tourism and conservation.

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