Home > Opinion, Resources > Responsible tourism will be part of a Sustainable Economy

Responsible tourism will be part of a Sustainable Economy

Tourism is a business, and it is a business at the level of individual transactions (e.g. across the guest house’s reception desk or via an online booking) as well as at the global level (i.e. transnational corporations operating in a global business environment determined by political, technological, social, environmental and macro-economic factors).

As doers and thinkers in responsible tourism we need to remind ourselves of this from time to time–the bigger picture–because just about all of the changes we seek to bring about–in tourism business, in destinations, in holiday consumer markets–are linked, however tenuously, with the workings of the global economy.

Currently, the “big picture” depicts the workings of an unsustainable economy with all its pernicious outcomes. Forum for the Future’s Sustainable Economy in 2040: a roadmap for capital markets provides a picture of what a sustainable economy looks like. At least three pages (pp.7-9) of this document are worth looking at, starting from the premise that:

“Ultimately an economy is a means to an end: the wellbeing of human societies within environmental limits. Our Framework for a Sustainable Economy sets out the critical environmental and social factors which must be respected by all key economic institutions.”

The goal, at its diagrammatic centre, is:

“A resilient, sustainable economy that maximises quality of life for all, so that people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives within environmental limits.”

Note they “use the terms ‘boundaries’ and ‘conditions’ instead of ‘targets’ because these are not optional aspirations”–“in order to create a truly sustainable economy, we need to respect each and every one of those boundaries and conditions”.

Many of its high-level principles, to be applied to activities in specific sectors, are challenging, such as:

C15 [A sustainable economy] builds the cost of all social and environmental externalities into valuations.

The report argues that:

“financial markets will need to allocate capital very differently from today. At the moment, finance does not flow in support of the kinds of activities that characterise and shape a sustainable economy.”

Responsible tourism initiatives need finance; they should be attracting finance, and be doing so by generating benefits (economic, environmental, social, health, welfare, sustainable development), so that the transition to a sustainable economy is properly made.

What should your tourism initiative being doing to form part of a sustainable economy? Read more here if you think all this is relevant to you and your responsible tourism endeavours.

ROBIN BARDEN

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