Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

186 E Diversity of landscapes and ecosystems

Travel and Tourism Council tourism accounts for

over 10 per cent of global GNP. At over US$650

thousand million, it is the most important source of

tax revenue. That is why many developing countries

are counting on tourism as the motor of economic

development. Tourism is frequently the most important

source of foreign currency and thus, alongside

the exports of raw materials or agricultural products,

it contributes to paying off debts. Tourism has many

connections to other branches of the economy and

can have an effect on incomes and employment. It

can only be ‘automated’ to a limited extent due to its

service orientation and is therefore one of the most

labour intensive branches of modern industry.

Throughout the world 255 million people are

employed in tourism. However, in many cases only a

small proportion of the profits earned remain in the

country because the majority of the tourism industry

is based in western industrialized countries. This

means that the local welfare effects remain limited.

Furthermore, tourism is heavily dependent on the

economic fluctuations in the home countries of the

tourists, the political situation and the security situation

in the destination countries as well as weather

extremes. Moreover, the holiday regions are increasingly

interchangeable, meaning that demand for a

holiday destination can cave in from one day to the


E 3.7.3

Political initiatives to promote sustainable


At the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and

Development (UNCED), the subject of sustainable

tourism played only a marginal role, with the consequence

that this aspect is only mentioned in passing

in AGENDA 21. Nevertheless, in recent years a number

of political initiatives to promote sustainable

tourism have been introduced.An overview of recent

developments makes it clear that the subject has now

entered the international debate. In particular, discussions

are being held within the context of the

Convention on Biological Diversity on the establishment

of global tourism guidelines (Section 1.3).

Declarations, codes of conduct and action


In 1995 the International Conference on Environmentally

Sound Tourism was held in Lanzarote – it

was organized by UNEP, UNESCO, the Spanish

Government and the World Tourism Organization

(WTO). In the Charter on Sustainable Tourism

adopted there, 18 general principles are listed, including

the multi-dimensionality of the sustainability

principle (ecological, social, economic, cultural), the

preservation of cultural heritage, the participation of

the actors concerned, special consideration of local

economic cycles, an equitable sharing of benefits, the

development of alternative forms of tourism, possibly

by internalizing the environmental costs and the

development of codes of conduct. In the same year,

the United Nations Environment Programme

(UNEP) produced a worldwide code of conduct for

sustainable tourism for the first time.

Two years later an international conference on the

subject of ‘Biodiversity and Tourism’ was held in

Berlin on a German initiative, in which 24 ministers

(including ministers from developing countries with

especially high levels of tourism) participated. The

‘Berlin Declaration’ adopted there starts out from

the premise that the essential goal of global environment

and development policy cannot be achieved

without the sustainable development of tourism

(Steck et al, 1998). In its content, the ‘Berlin Declaration’

focuses on five main issues: 1. Sustainable

tourism as an instrument for the conservation and

sustainable use of biodiversity; 2. The need for controlled

tourism development; 3. Special consideration

of protected and buffer zones; 4. The role of the

private sector and voluntary commitments; 5. The

importance of local communities. Generally, the

‘Berlin Declaration’ calls for gradated and regionally

adapted concepts of use. It is therefore emphasized

that nature and biodiversity represent a key resource

base for tourism that must not be overexploited. In

areas where there is already strong pressure on

nature, an additional load should be limited and,

where necessary, avoided. In areas where the carrying

capacity is exceeded by tourism, it should be

brought back in a sustainable direction. Tourism in

protected areas should be regulated so that protection

objectives can be adhered to.

With the help of the Berlin Declaration, which is

not binding under international law and which

mainly serves as a frame of reference for other

tourism initiatives, ongoing processes within the

Convention on Biological Diversity (adoption of

tourism guidelines) and the Commission on Sustainable

Development (CSD) should be advanced. At

around the same time the CSD was commissioned by

the Special Session of the UN General Assembly to

submit a measure-oriented international programme

of work on the subject of ‘sustainable tourism’ in

order to minimize the negative impacts of tourism

and to promote its positive contribution to sustainable

development.At the 7th CSD session in 1999, at

which the EU took on a pioneering role, a programme

of work of this kind was adopted, which is to

be evaluated in 2002. Among other things, the governments

were called upon to promote small and

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