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UNEP announces meeting to develop tour operator initiative for sustainable tourism development

Paris/Nairobi, July 1999 - The first meeting of tour operators to develop the Tour Operator Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development was hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), through its Division of Technology, Industry and Economics in Paris, on 21 and 22 June 1999. Fourteen tours operators, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, industry associations and national and local public authorities participated in the meeting.

UNEP, in conjunction with the World Tourism Organization and UNESCO, is promoting this voluntary initiative by tour operators to put sustainable development into practice in their activities.

The Tour Operator Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development was announced by Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director, and tour companies during the seventh session of the CSD in April this year. The declaration of intent to participate in establishing this initiative has now been signed by 30 tour operators.

At their first meeting in Paris, the tour operators prepared a draft statement of commitment to be signed by members of the Tour Operator Initiative. They formed working groups to finalize the statement of commitment; to develop a programme of activities to assist members in implementing their commitment; to establish an awareness raising strategy to promote the initiative, its activities, and the importance of applying sustainable development principles in tourism; and to finalize details of organizational and membership procedures (and funding).

The initiative takes into account the decisions on tourism, the environment and sustainable development, that have been made by the UNEP twentieth Governing Council (February 1999) and by the seventh session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (April 1999).

UNEP has already established a number of successful voluntary initiatives and cooperative programmes with companies in other sectors. These include: The Financial Institutions Initiative; The Insurance Industry Initiative; The International Cleaner Production Declaration; The Mineral Resources Forum; and The Offshore Oil & Gas Environment Forum.

Along with the Tour Operator Initiative, these examples underline the way in which UNEP is working in partnership with companies and other UN bodies, to support the private sector in the context of sustainable development.

About the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics: The mission of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics is to help decision-makers in government, local authorities, and industry develop and adopt policies and practices that:

  • are cleaner and safer;
  • make efficient use of natural resources;
  • ensure adequate management of chemicals;
  • incorporate environmental costs;
  • reduce pollution and risks for humans and the
  • environment.

The UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP TIE) located in Paris, is composed of one centre and four units: The International Environmental Technology Centre (Osaka), which promotes the adoption and use of environmentally sound technologies with a focus on the environmental management of cities and freshwater basins, in developing countries and countries in transition. Production and Consumption (Paris), which fosters the development of cleaner and safer production and consumption patterns that lead to increased efficiency in the use of natural resources and reductions in pollution. Chemicals (Geneva), which promotes sustainable development by catalysing global actions and building national capacities for the sound management of chemicals and the improvement of chemical safety world-wide, with a priority on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Prior Informed Consent (PIC, jointly with FAO). Energy and OzonAction (Paris), which supports the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and promotes good management practices and use of energy, with a focus on atmospheric impacts. The UNEP/RIS Collaborating Centre on Energy and Environment supports the work of the Unit. Economics and Trade (Geneva), which promotes the use and application of assessment and incentive tools for environmental policy and helps improve the understanding of linkages between trade and environment and the role of financial institutions in promoting sustainable development. UNEP TIE activities focus on raising awareness, improving the transfer of information, building capacity, fostering technology cooperation, partnerships and transfer, improving understanding of environmental impacts of trade issues, promoting integration of environmental considerations into economic policies, and catalysing global chemical safety. For more information contact:
UNEP, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
39-43, Quai Andre, Citroen,
75739 Paris Cedex 15, France,
Tel: 33 1 44 37 14 50; Fax: 33 1 44 37 14 74,

UNEP Information Note 1999/25

Monday 12 Jul 1999
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