While the MDGs have accomplished a great deal over the past 15 years, the new SDGs have evolved as the world has evolved, and include more complex factors affecting the world today, such as climate change.
However, a key component is largely missing, which is the role of communities and individuals. As a result, “Goal 18” has been proposed by "The People's Knowledge Revolution," which states: Ensure the inclusion of all individuals and all communities in the process of sustainable development, now and in the future. Basically, “Goal 18 honors the fact that people and communities are capable of contributing to development, rather than standing by as passive recipients.”1
As a Sustainable Tourism & Heritage Specialist, with 18 years of experience in both international development and the private sector, the role of local people and communities as stakeholders is invaluable. Without them and their active support, sustainability is next to impossible.
In regards to directives for promoting sustainable tourism, as well as cultural and natural heritage management, it was a relief to see targets directly or indirectly stated in components of four out of the 17 new goals:
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
The press release states that despite being a high impact economic activity, a major job generator, and key export sector accounting for 6% of total world trade, tourism receives only 0.78% of the total Aid for Trade (AfT) disbursements and a mere 0.097% of the total Official Development Assistance.
“For an increasing number of developing countries tourism means jobs, poverty eradication, community development, and the protection of natural and cultural heritage. Yet, in order to maximize tourism's contribution to the development objectives, it is critical to address the disparity between the sector's capacity to foster development and the low priority it has been given so far in terms of financial support in the development cooperation agenda.” - UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai
With combined efforts from United Nations leaders in charge of adopting the new SDGs, and the UNWTO's request for increased funding from international donor agencies, it is hoped that the field of sustainable tourism development receives the long overdue attention it deserves and is provided with the requisite funding worldwide. In that way, the goals of helping people by preserving their cultures, providing jobs and education, as well as preserving the planet through responsible tourism initiatives and conservation of the natural and built environment, can be attained in tandem with the new Sustainable Development Goals.
For ways to contribute to this topic, join “The World We Want” as well as “Action 2015” and "Goal 18."
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