What is the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (The Global Partnership)?

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism is a movement to transform tourism worldwide. It benefits from the combined strength of over five UN agencies, 20 countries, and many organizations. It builds on the momentum and achievements of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD). The broad geographical scope of the Partnership and the expertise of its members enable it to promote successful models by adapting, replicating and scaling-up existing efforts. It also engenders new practices, policies, networks, and capacity-building activities.

Why a Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism?

In recent years, stakeholders have sought to address the social, cultural and environmental problems associated with tourism with hundreds of isolated efforts around the world. This has often led to information overload and confusion. The positive results have been limited, and time and money have been wasted. By working together, stakeholders can increase their efficiency and foster deep and lasting outcomes. In particular, successful models and initiatives can be replicated, adapted and scaled-up.

Who are the members?

Membership is open to governments and public sector agencies, companies, private sector associations, multilateral and intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and non-profits, and other tourism stakeholders.
Click here for a list of members

What is the history of the Global Partnership?

The Global Partnership builds on the success, accomplishments, and membership of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD). The ITF-STD emerged from the Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, which identified certain priorities, including the development of a 10-Year Framework of Programs for sustainable consumption and production. Tourism emerged as a key sector, and the voluntary ITF-STD was established. At the 6th Meeting of the ITF-STD in Chantilly, France, in February 2010, its members agreed that the work should continue, but in the form of a UN Type II Commission on Sustainable Development Partnership. The Global Partnership was officially launched in January 2011 at the first annual meeting in Costa Rica.

What did the ITF-STD achieve?

The Global Partnership builds on the success of the International Taskforce on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD). The ITF-STD initiated or contributed to approximately 40 projects. These included the development of capacity building tools, policy guidelines, publications, new partnerships and sustainable tourism networks. The positive social, cultural, and environmental impacts of these efforts are impressive. Most importantly, they have helped the industry move toward a more sustainable business model. In monetary terms, they involved or facilitated total outlays of approximately USD $ 5 million.
Examples include:

• GREEN PASSPORT CAMPAIGN – to raise awareness among travellers about how they can contribute to sustainable development by making responsible holiday choices. The passports include local green travel tips, guides, and suggestions about how to promote changes in policy. A website has been developed in English, French, Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. A hardcopy version was launched in English and Spanish in June 2009 during the World Environment Day celebrations in Mexico. National Green Passport campaigns have been implemented in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and South Africa.

HOTEL ENERGY SOLUTIONS (HES) – to encourage the adoption of energy-saving and renewable technologies among hotels in Europe. UNEP is coordinating the development of a toolkit to help small and medium-sized establishments assess their current energy use and carbon footprints and compare them to similar establishments. Specific elements include a carbon calculator and an energy benchmarking tool. HES also helps them decide how best to invest to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs.

What does the Global Partnership do?

The Partnership strives to encourage synergy among the various initiatives that were launched or supported by the International Taskforce on Sustainable Tourism Development (ITF-STD). It also develops new projects and works to expand the scope of its operations while maintaining continuity. It works hard to involve new partners in the process in an efficient manner. This is accomplished by:
• establishing a coherent work plan for the Partnership itself that addresses the needs of individual members
• preventing unnecessary duplication
• helping to establish collaboration that can lead to the replication or adaptation of successful activities elsewhere
• increasing the visibility of its work
• involving new partners to increase the impact of each initiative

What are the main activities of the Partnership?

The Partnership works on policy, projects, new tools and networks. It has four main activities:

– communication and increasing awareness
– highlighting and promoting best practices
– capacity building for implementation
– innovative, joint projects

What are the seven thematic actions of the Partnership?
The Partnership aims to transform tourism worldwide by focusing on seven thematic actions:

• POLICY FRAMEWORKS: promote good policy frameworks for sustainable tourism development
• CLIMATE CHANGE: increase awareness of the relationship between tourism and climate change, and encourage actions to reduce emissions from tourism activities and help destinations adapt to change
• ENVIRONMENT & BIODIVERSITY: increase awareness of the effect of tourism on the environment and biodiversity, focusing on prevention, especially in protected and ecologically sensitive areas
• POVERTY: promote sustainable tourism as a means of poverty alleviation
• HERITAGE: encourage the use of tourism to preserve the cultural heritage and conserve the natural heritage of destinations and attractions, while strengthening living cultures and maintaining biodiversity
• PRIVATE SECTOR: help firms and their suppliers to be more sustainable (including by measuring their water, energy, and social footprints)
• FINANCE & INVESTMENT: make sustainability a required component for the approval of funding for tourism development, and match sources of sustainable investment with destinations and enterprises seeking such investment

How is the Partnership structured?

The Partnership is organized around the General Assembly, an Advisory Committee, and a Steering Committee. The latter is its executive body, charged with implementing the decisions of its members. The Secretariat, based in the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP-DTIE) in Paris, provides support for all activities.

How do members benefit from the Partnership?

Members of the Partnership are recognized as leaders in the sustainable tourism movement. Specific benefits include:
• Access to expertise on environmental, social, cultural and economic issues: specialized UN agencies and experts provide support through the advisory committee with the goal of bringing sustainability into the mainstream of the debate about tourism development; their effectiveness is enhanced by access to decision-makers in the public and private sectors
• Extensive networks: Partnership members can forge cooperative agreements with UN agencies, governments, NGOs, tourism schools, tourism experts and youth groups, among others
• UN Platform: UN Partnerships enjoy a positive image as honest brokers that guarantee quality

How is the GPST financed?

Financial resources come from four main sources:
• Annual contributions from members
• Direct financial support of projects by national, regional and multilateral members
• In-kind support from participating members
• Donations

How much does it cost to be a member?

Membership contributions are based on a sliding scale for different entities and organizations.
Click here for details

How are projects selected?

The overall budget and the selection of projects that receive financing are determined by the Annual General Assembly. The Advisory Committee ensures that they are aligned with the thematic areas of the Partnership, as well as international agreements and conventions. All project proposals are first reviewed by the Steering Committee, the executive body of the Partnership, which makes its recommendations to the Annual General Assembly.

How can I join?

Membership is open to all organizations that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable tourism and the ability to contribute to the objectives, thematic actions, and/or policy recommendations of the Partnership.
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