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Sustainable Tourism Meeting Highlights Challenges for SIDS

UNDESA30 October 2013: Samoa outlined challenges for small island developing States (SIDS) in promoting sustainable tourism, at an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on 'Sustainable Tourism: Ecotourism, Poverty Reduction and Environmental Protection' at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 29-30 October 2013. The UN Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) organized the meeting in cooperation with the Government of Morocco, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Panelist Sonja Hunter, Minister of Tourism, Samoa, described SIDS' vulnerability to impacts of climate change and its need for sustainable energy sources as key challenges in maintaining sustainable tourism. 'Small Island Matters,' the newsletter of the SIDS Unit of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), featured Hunter's presentation in its November 2013 issue.

The EGM on sustainable tourism also discussed good practice in ecotourism, interventions needed to address unsustainable trends, and potential areas for cooperation and partnerships, such as forest, lake or desert tourism. Five panel sessions addressed: developing the market for sustainable tourism; planning, marketing and destination management; assessing the socio-economic benefits, employment generation and poverty reduction impacts from sustainable tourism; and partnerships for international cooperation.

Nikhil Seth, DSD Director, recalled that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) identified sustainable tourism as an opportunity to contribute to a green and inclusive economy, create jobs and generate trade. He reported that the tourism sector contributes an estimated nine percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and is a way for the least developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS to increase their participation in the global economy. According to Seth, the outcomes of the meeting will inform intergovernmental deliberations on sustainable development, and contribute to preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS, convening in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014.

The latest issue of 'Small Island Matters' also highlights DESA's launch of a Partnerships Platform on the SIDS conference website, to encourage partnerships that will benefit SIDS in five priority areas: climate change and energy; oceans and seas; waste management; sustainable tourism and natural disaster resilience. [EGM Webpage] [EGM Programme] [Statement of Nikhil Seth] [Publication: Small Island Matters, November 2013 - Vol. 1, Issue 6] [Partnerships Platform for SIDS]