A new list of Recommendations was published about how the global tourism sector can go forward with its fight against global plastic pollution, despite the public health and hygiene challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ongoing pandemic has had a strong negative impact on the tourism sector, putting more than 100 million jobs at risk. Today, as countries slowly start to recover and tourism restarts in a growing number of destinations day by day, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, led by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and in cooperation with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has provided an action plan for both public and private sector stakeholders to respond to the causes of plastic pollution in these difficult times.
“Not managing the transition into the new reality we are facing, including the strong focus on health and hygiene measures, in a responsible manner may have a significant environmental impact, which is why this renewed commitment is vitally important. We are proud to announce the first signatories to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative today”
The Recommendations for the Tourism Sector to Continue Taking Action on Plastic Pollution During COVID-19 Recovery show how reducing the plastic impact, increasing the engagement of suppliers, working closer with waste service providers, and ensuring transparency on the actions taken, can considerably assist the recovery of the tourism industry.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “As the tourism sector restarts, we have a responsibility to build back better. Not managing the transition into the new reality we are facing, including the strong focus on health and hygiene measures, in a responsible manner may have a significant environmental impact, which is why this renewed commitment is vitally important. We are proud to announce the first signatories to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative today.”
When not properly discarded, products such as gloves, masks and sanitiser bottles can cause polluting the areas of tourist destinations.
UNEP Economy Division Director, Ligia Noronha said: “We need to take a science-based approach and support governments, business, and local communities to ensure we are taking the most effective measures to protect hygiene and health without creating pollution and causing harm to our natural environment. These recommendations addressing hygiene and disposable plastic can support tourism sector stakeholders in their efforts towards a responsible recovery”.
The recommendations come as major global tourism companies Accor, Club Med, and Iberostar Group cement their commitment to fighting plastic pollution and become three of the first official signatories to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, along with more than 20 signatories from across all continents, including major industry players and supporting organisations which will act as multipliers. Alongside these, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is a member of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative Advisory Committee and has informed these latest recommendations.
The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector with the common goal of addressing the main reasons behind the plastic pollution. It enables businesses and governments to take collaborative action. Designed within the framework of the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the One Planet network, a multi-stakeholder partnership to implement SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative is led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organisation, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.