Tourism to the Rescue

Everything we produce and consume has an impact on the environment, on social fabrics and on the economy. This impact can be positive or negative, and frequently some combination of the two. Building more prosperous, sustainable societies requires us to minimize the environmental footprint of our production processes and consumption decisions. It is for this reason that Sustainable Development Goal 12, one of 17 goals in the United Nations’ prospective new development agenda, calls for us to “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

With a growing, fast-urbanizing global population set to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, the challenges are immense. People need food, water, housing and energy. The rapidly growing global middle-class will want more consumer goods and services, from flat-screen televisions to overseas holidays. Hundreds of millions of people who still live in extreme poverty rightly hope to be able to consume more, not less.

Meeting these needs and demands in an environmentally sustainable manner is one of the great challenges of our time. And it will affect all of us. The Huffington Post reader in Cleveland, Ohio, who goes out of her way to buy sustainably sourced food and clothes — but plugs her tablet into some of the dirtiest electricity. The farmer’s daughter in a drought-affected district of Maharashtra who knows that the tube well on her family’s plot will soon run dry, and is saving up for a ticket to the city. We cannot afford to disappoint the latter’s aspirations. But if all of us were to have the former’s carbon footprint, the planet would become unlivable.

Sustainable production and consumption matter immensely to the people I meet every day as head of the International Trade Centre, which works with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them boost growth and job creation by improving their competitiveness —> Read More