The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) has joined as a signatory and supporting organization of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.
The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism brings a new set of pathways for climate action, aligning the sector with global commitments and catalyzing collaborative solutions to the many challenges facing businesses and destinations globally.
The Glasgow Declaration encourages the acceleration of climate action in tourism by securing commitments to reduce emissions in tourism by at least 50% over the next decade and achieve Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.
The Declaration was officially launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.
GSTC and the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism
As a signatory and launch partner of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, GSTC is committed to aligning its actions with the latest scientific recommendations, so as to ensure its approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
It also has agreed to deliver or update climate action plans within 12 months, align plans with the five pathways of the Declaration (Measure, Decarbonize, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance), report publicly on an annual basis, and work in a collaborative spirit, sharing good practices and solutions, and disseminating information.
“GSTC has had a strong commitment to climate action and its promotion. There are strong elements of addressing, preparing and mitigating climate change in both the GSTC Industry Criteria and the GSTC Destination Criteria. These cascade widely across the world, not only by using the GSTC Criteria or GSTC-Recognized Standards, but also with the certification of accommodations, tour operators, and hotels as well as training or other activities based on the extensive reach of the GSTC Criteria,” says Luigi Cabrini, GSTC Chair. “This naturally brought us to join as a supporting organization and founding signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.”
GSTC is not a business-as-usual organization and neither are the GSTC conferences. Our conferences are confined to specialized players that seek to or already apply sustainability standards in their work. We interact mostly with that community via conference calls and webinars, but we see great value in enhancing the effectiveness of all with occasional in-person gatherings.
The GSTC is a global organization that is virtual – we have no offices, meaning we don’t emit GHG from any offices nor from staff commuting. Certification Bodies that we work with and strengthen are scattered throughout the world. While we conduct most of our work and interactions via web conferencing, webinars, etc., occasional in-person meetings tremendously facilitate more effective action from our network of impact-makers.
GSTC Conferences (paused during 2020-2021 due to covid) aim to engage major players in sustainability to strengthen the power of partnership via occasional in-person meetings. In 2019 prior to the pandemic, we were in the Azores and Northern Thailand. In 2018 we were in Botswana and engaged in a heavily African network; the year before in Chile; and before that in Korea and in Greece. Many impactful players we work with see us once in 3 or 4 years.
The conferences facilitate meaningful exchanges between practitioners from both the public and private sectors in creating or improving collaborative approaches to making their travel services more sustainable. We are confident that those goals are largely met and that they will have impacts that cascade out widely relative to the numbers of people and carbon emitted from operating a global conference.
As we preach for slow travel (less frequent but longer stays and choosing low-carbon transport), many of our members extend their stay in the destination before and after the conference to appreciate the destination, to provide more personal benefit to the amount of carbon emitted during their flights, and to provide economic support to the residents. We operate green conferences, with paper and string name badges, beef-free menus and vegetarian options as the default, limited food waste (a major contributor to GHG), no single-use plastic, transport by foot or bus, and more. Our conferences’ hosts fund carbon offsetting activities.
References to Climate Action in the GSTC Criteria
The GSTC Criteria serve as the global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The Criteria are used for education and awareness-raising, policy-making for businesses and government agencies and other organization types, measurement and evaluation, and as a basis for certification. They are the result of a worldwide effort to develop a common language about sustainability in tourism.
Climate Action in the GSTC Industry Criteria
The GSTC Industry Criteria relates to the sustainable management of private-sector travel industry, focusing currently on Hotels and Tour Operators.
D2 Reducing pollution – D2.1 Greenhouse gas emissions
Significant greenhouse gas emissions from all sources controlled by the organization are identified, calculated where possible and procedures implemented to avoid or to minimize them. Offsetting of the organization’s remaining emissions is encouraged.
- Total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the organization’s operations and those over which it has direct influence/control are monitored and managed.
- Carbon Footprint per tourist/night is monitored and managed.
- Actions are taken to avoid and reduce significant annual emissions from all sources controlled by the organization.
- Actions are taken to encourage suppliers of products and services to avoid and reduce significant annual emissions.
- Carbon offset mechanisms are used where practical.
D2 Reducing pollution – D2.2 Transport
The organization seeks to reduce transportation requirements and actively encourages the use of cleaner and more resource efficient alternatives by customers, employees, suppliers and in its own operations.
- Information is provided and promoted to customers on alternative (climate friendly) transport options, for arrival, departure and during their visit.
- Alternative transport options (e.g. bike rental, car sharing, pick-ups) for guests and staff are provided or facilitated.
- Markets accessible by short and more sustainable transport options are favoured.
- Local suppliers are favoured and daily operations seek to minimize transport use.
* low-carbon transportation where possible; slow travel and longer stays
D2 Reducing pollution – D2.4 Solid waste
Waste, including food waste, is measured, mechanisms are in place to reduce waste and, where reduction is not feasible, to reuse or recycle it. Any residual waste disposal has no adverse effect on the local population or the environment.
- A solid waste management plan is in place for the organization’s operations and those over which it has direct influence/control.
- The solid waste management plan includes actions to reduce, separate and reuse or recycle food waste where applicable.
- Waste disposal is to a government run or approved facility and there is evidence that the facility has no negative impact on the environment or local population.
- Solid waste disposed is measured by type and goals are in place to minimize non-diverted solid waste.
- Guidance is given to customers, staff and suppliers of products and services on minimizing waste.
D2 Reducing pollution – D2.6 Minimize pollution
The organization implements practices to minimize pollution from noise, light, runoff, erosion, ozone-depleting substances, and air, water and soil contaminants.
- The potential sources of pollution covered in the criterion have been reviewed and identified.
- The potential sources of pollution covered in the criterion are monitored.
- Action is taken to minimize and where possible eliminate pollution from the sources covered in the criterion.
Climate Action in the GSTC Destination Criteria
The GSTC Destination Criteria relates to sustainable management of Tourism Destinations.
A(c) Managing pressure and change – A10 Climate change adaptation
The destination identifies risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Climate change adaptation strategies are pursued for the siting, design, development and management of tourism facilities. Information on predicted climate change, associated risks and future conditions is provided for residents, businesses and visitors.
- The destination management strategy and action plan identifies and addresses climate issues.
- Regulations, guidelines and zoning for tourism development and activities accommodate the consequences of climate change.
- A climate risk assessment, covering current and future risks – undertaken and made publicly available.
- Evidence of consideration of impact on, and contribution of, local ecosystems to climate change adaptation.
- Information on climate change that has been made publicly available.
D(b) Resource management – D5 Energy conservation
The destination has targets to reduce energy consumption, improve efficiency in its use, as well as increase the use of renewable energy. The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report their contribution to these targets.
- Energy consumption targets are publicized and promoted.
- Programme to increase energy efficiency – e.g. promoting and supporting insulation.
- Investment in renewable energy and percent of total provision/consumption.
- Support and incentives for energy monitoring and reduction by enterprises.
D(c) Management of waste and emissions – D9 Solid waste
The destination measures and reports on its generation of waste and sets targets for its reduction. It ensures solid waste is properly treated and diverted from landfill, with provision of a multiple-stream collection and recycling system which effectively separates waste by type. The destination encourages enterprises to avoid, reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste, including food waste. Action is taken to eliminate or reduce single-use items, especially plastics. Any residual solid waste that is not reused or recycled is disposed of safely and sustainably.
- Waste monitoring programme, with results and targets published.
- Coordinated campaign/advice/support with tourism enterprises on waste management, including food waste.
- Campaign to reduce/eliminate single use items, especially plastics.
- Waste management programme for public offices and facilities.
- Provision of a collection and recycling system, with at least four streams (i.e. organic, paper, metal, glass and plastic).
- Provision of sustainable system for disposal of residual waste.
- Campaign to eliminate dropping of litter, including by visitors, and to keep public spaces clean.
- Adequate bins for separated waste disposal.
D(c) Management of waste and emissions – D10 GHG emissions and climate change mitigation
The destination has targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and implements and reports on mitigation policies and actions. Enterprises are encouraged to measure, monitor, reduce or minimise, publicly report and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from all aspects of their operation (including from suppliers and service providers). Offsetting of any remaining emissions is encouraged.
- Published target for percentage of emissions reduction by specified date.
- Annual climate report, including monitoring and mitigation actions.
- Supported campaign or other engagement with tourism enterprises on reduction and mitigation of emissions.
- Action to reduce emissions from public sector operations.
- Information for enterprises and visitors on offsetting schemes that meet recognised standards.
D(c) Management of waste and emissions – D11 Low-impact transportation
The destination has targets to reduce transport emissions from travel to and within the destination. An increase in the use of sustainable, low-emissions vehicles and public transport and active travel (e.g., walking and cycling) is sought in order to reduce the contribution of tourism to air pollution, congestion and climate change.
- Investment in more sustainable transport infrastructure, including public transport and low emissions vehicles.
- Information promoted to visitors on alternative transport options to and within the destination.
- Data on visitor use of alternative transport modes.
- Improvement and promotion of cycling and walking opportunities.
- Prioritization of visitor markets accessible by short and more sustainable transport options.
- Public sector and tourism enterprises prioritize low-impact transportation in their own operations.
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