Joburg generates R4 285 tons of waste a day: soon there’ll be nowhere for it to go, writes Musa Jack.
The City of Joburg is fast running out of landfill space. If residents don’t change the way they handle rubbish, in seven years’ time, there won’t be a place to dispose of such waste.
But it would be naive to confine the challenges of waste disposal to Jozi residents alone, as the city is a beacon of hope not only for ordinary South Africans; it attracts an inflow of people from beyond our shores who are seeking a better life.
These patterns of migration put pressure on the service offerings of the City of Joburg, particularly on the management of waste disposal.
According to the statistics recorded at four landfill sites managed by the city’s waste management company, Pikitup, Joburg generates about 4 285 tons of waste daily.
Close to 90 percent of this mixed waste ends up being disposed of at these landfill sites.
Disposing of waste at landfills isn’t the only option. In fact, it isn’t the preferred option, because waste isn’t rubbish, but a resource.
The waste being generated by households, businesses and industries is valuable material that can be re-used, recycled or recovered in one form or another.
Pikitup has developed plans to ensure a radical transformation in the manner in which waste is perceived by those who generate it.
This transformation offers ways of managing how domestic waste (paper, glass, plastic, cans, garden waste, food waste, e-waste and builders’ rubble) is handled.
The interventions articulated in the plan include the promotion of recycling, processing garden waste to make compost, using food waste to generate biogas, recycling construction material, and using residual waste to generate electricity which, in the future, will be critical in contributing to the power challenges being experienced countrywide.
This further emphasises the point that domestic waste is a resource that can be re-used or recovered for use as an alternative by-product.
Some of the interventions require changing consumer behaviour towards waste; a behaviour that requires a revolutionary mindset that embraces an attitude that business as usual is irresponsible, particularly towards the well-being of future generations.
The path that Pikitup and the city are embarking on in terms of a transformed relationship with waste will be a fruitless journey without the citizens of Joburg coming on board and viewing themselves as partners.
Two of the areas residents need to take responsibility for are littering and illegal dumping.
We need to move to a point where throwing a piece of paper or a cigarette butt on the ground and, certainly, dumping illegally in open spaces is frowned upon because this questions the extent to which we, as citizens, take pride in our beautiful city.
Most people don’t realise waste is linked to climate change.
The manufacture, distribution and use of products as well as the management of the resulting waste all use energy that results in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change.
Separation at Source, a recycling programme, has been rolled out by Pikitup in selected parts of Joburg.
In the course of this year and next, the plan is to give all the city’s suburbs an opportunity to separate their recyclable waste at their homes.
Pikitup does acknowledge that, in this regard, it has a responsibility to make it convenient for citizens to recycle and also to help them understand why they should recycle.
In collaboration with communities through its Jozi@Work programme and private sector players, Pikitup aims to continue rolling out the necessary infrastructure to make it easy for residents to join the recycling crusade.
Still, all the infrastructure in the world will be pointless unless the households, businesses and schools of Joburg make a conscious decision to change their behaviour towards waste.
Embracing responsible waste management practices, as our collective responsibility, will contribute tremendously to enabling Joburg to foster its world-class African city status.
It will also help us to achieve the target of diverting 93 percent of waste from landfills by the year 2040 in line with our plan to minimise waste.
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Agricultural production needs to increase 60% by 2050 to keep up with the expected demand for food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
This is one of the issues to be discussed at the Food Security Seminar taking place on 24 June 2015 during Sustainability Week at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.
Political instability, limited access to resources and funding, poverty, skills shortages and a changing climate are just some of the challenging factors impacting food security in Africa. The lack of interest in farming among young rural people is also a risk to consider when it comes to Africa’s agricultural landscape. Thought leaders and experts in the field of food security, agriculture and fisheries will share the latest thinking and best practice in the changing face of this industry.
Four interactive sessions will contribute to the formulation of consensus on the best course for African countries in the food security, agriculture and fisheries sectors. The first session will focus on climate change mitigation and adaption where Inge Kotze, senior manager for Sustainable Agriculture at the World Wide Fund for Nature SA, will define the issues of climate change and agriculture. The session will close with a panel discussion addressing key actions to mitigate primary causes of emissions and how to adapt to inevitable changes in the sector.
“There is an urgent need for the world’s farmers to be empowered to produce more food per unit of land, water and agrochemicals, while confronting widespread physical resource scarcity, a changing climate, and rapidly increasing input costs,” says Kotze.
Biodiversity and productivity in land use will be the theme for the second session where Jan Coetzee, project extension officer at The South African Breweries (SAB), will enlighten attendees with a case study on better barley, better beer. This session will ultimately address the big question of whether intensive farming work can co-exist sustainably with the local biodiversity to ensure conservation and the ongoing supply of ecological services.
During the household food security session, freelance science writer Leonie Joubert will shed light on what food security really means. Paul Barker from Here We Grow Again will speak about the direct impact food gardens have on food security. The panel discussion will round off this session by framing the required policy and infrastructure foundations to enable broad-based urban farming.
The final session will address rural poverty by stimulating the rural economy. Speakers will explore how to convert subsistence farmers into successful commercial farmers to extract the economic potential of land. The session will also delve into Afrocentric labour intensive approaches to improve productivity and uplift rural communities.
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Eskom Fet College Bursaries
Closing Date: 31 July 2015
|Further Education & Training (FET)|
Individuals legible to apply must meet the following requirements:-
- Applicants must be South African citizens with a valid ID number
- National Senior Certificate or equivalent
- Written proof of acceptance for admission by higher education institution
- Applicants must be for full time studies at an accredited South African institution
- Applicants must be willing to undergo an interview and medical examination or health declaration
Students to study at the University
Read more at Tolajob
Bursaries In Chemical Engineering
Bursaries are awarded to successful candidates to complete a degree in Engineering (Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial). These students will ‘work back’ their bursaries for a period equal to the period of their studies.
Bursaries are awarded to successful candidates for the following course of study:
- BEng/BSc Chemical Engineering
- BEng/BSc Electrical Engineering
- BEng/BSc Industrial Engineering
- BEng/BSc Mechanical Engineering
If you are interested in Workplace Experience opportunities such as In-service training, Internships or Work Integrated Learning or applying for a bursary read more here
Mintek’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate Bursaries Program in South Africa
Deadline: July 31, 2015
Mintek is offering undergraduate and postgraduate bursary programme for South African students. Mintek’s Undergraduate Bursary Programme ensures a steady supply of trained and highly skilled technical people for Mintek to meet a major portion of company’s operational, research and development manpower needs, and also to provide appropriately-skilled graduates to the broader South African minerals and metallurgy sector, as per Mintek’s Mission Statement. The closing date for undergraduate applications is 31 July 2015. There is no closing date to submit applications to Mintek’s Postgraduate Bursary Programme (for Masters Studies and above).
Mintek’s Postgraduate Bursary Programme further equips undergraduates through the development of research methodology skills at the Masters level, followed by the generation of original research that contributes new knowledge to a field at the Doctorate level. Bursaries cover the full payment of registration, tuition and residence fees, plus an allowance with a commitment to work at Mintek on a month-for-month basis. Bursars are also given the opportunity to work closely with experts in their field of interest as well as in other disciplines.
Read more here
RSVP to attend the Youth and the Green Economy Seminar at Sustainability Week in June
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A community of tourism businesses working together to make better places to live in and great places to visit was announced Overall Winners this afternoon at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2015.
In a special ceremony at World Travel Market Africa, Gansbaai took the coveted position of Overall Winner from of a selection of 22 finalists gathered from around
“It is exciting to bring the Word Responsible Tourism Awards family of the Awards to Cape Town & Africa” says Harold Goodwin, chair of the Judging Panel. “There are many world class winners being announced today. Since 2004 African businesses from 14 countries have won awards, 20% of the Awards winners have been from Africa, 20% of all of those awarded.”
Speaking before a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes the Award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa: “Our winners have a vision that extends beyond the commercial – linking business success with the wellbeing of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate balance sheets alongside beliefs, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism in Africa.”
The Awards were sponsored by the Wesgro. Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, who handed out the Awards, said: “As the proud headline sponsor of the inaugural African Responsible Tourism Awards, Wesgro is delighted to pay tribute to this year’s inspirational winners. As the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we continue to show our commitment to responsible tourism development both in our province and on the African continent. We are pleased to recognise the vision of the Award winners for providing leadership in their respective sectors throughout Africa, and effectively contributing to growing tourism in a sustainable manner.”
- Overall Winner – sponsored by Wesgro: Gansbaai;
- Best for Beach Tourism (gold) – supported by BulkSMS and Shark Spotters: Chumbe Island Coral Park;
- Best for Beach Tourism (silver) – supported by BulkSMS and Shark Spotters: Nuarro Lodge;
- Best Blog for Responsible Tourism (gold) – sponsored by Cape Town Tourism: The Good Holiday;
- Best Blog for Responsible Tourism (silver) – sponsored by Cape Town Tourism: My Slow Journey;
- Best Destination for Responsible Tourism (gold) – sponsored by the V&A Waterfront: Gansbaai;
- Best Destination for Responsible Tourism (silver) – sponsored by the V&A Waterfront: Bigodo Wetlands Sanctuary and Cape Town;
- Best for engaging people and cultures (gold) – sponsored by Gauteng Tourism Authority: Coffeebeans Routes Cape Town;
- Best for engaging people and cultures (silver) – sponsored by Gauteng Tourism Authority: !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre, Nkwichi Lodge and TFPD Foundation for the work done at Baleni Camp;
- Best for Poverty Reduction (gold) – sponsored by Marine Dynamics: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in partnership with the Grootbos Foundation and Transfrontier Parks Destinations;
- Best for Poverty Reduction (silver) – sponsored by Marine Dynamics: Stormsriver Adventures;
- Best for resource management (gold) – supported by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa: Chobe Game Lodge;
- Best for resource management (silver) – supported by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Sandele Eco-Retreat and Learning Centre, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company and Vineyard Hotel;
- Best for Wildlife Conservation (gold) – sponsored by South African National Parks: Marine Dynamics South Africa; and
- Best for Wildlife Conservation (silver) – sponsored by South African National Parks: andBeyond’s Rhinos Without Borders and Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse.
Book your seat here for the Responsible Tourism Dialogue that takes place at Sustainability Week in June
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Attracting and retaining investments can present myriad complexities for business, governments and local communities, as Africa’s doors of opportunity swing open ever-wider. In order to explore ways to maximise these opportunities in a manner that benefits all of Africa’s stakeholder groups, GRI is convening the Africa Regional Conference, on 12 and 13 May 2015, at the EY offices in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Robust and transparent reporting is one of the essential means by which businesses can demonstrate their commitment to operating responsibly on the continent and across the globe”, said GRI’s Director Regional Networks and Sustainable Development, Alyson Slater. “The GRI Africa Regional Conference will bring together hundreds of experts and provide a platform for enhancing the value of sustainability reporting and encouraging greater levels of corporate disclosure and accountability.”
On 12 May, attendees can take part in half-day masterclasses that will deliver specific practical guidance on issues such as supply/value-chain reporting, stakeholder engagement, materiality, integration and the boundaries of accountability.
On 13 May, there is an exciting programme planned; with plenary sessions featuring renowned sustainability specialists and parallel tracks focused on driving economic transformation in Africa through greater transparency, as well as reporting as a source of innovation, trade and development.
For more information and to register to attend the GRI Africa Regional Conference please visit the GRI website here or you can contact GRI’s Media Relations Manager Davion Ford (email@example.com). For any additional questions or media requests, please contact either Jane Appiah-Yeboah (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeneth Ndlovu (email@example.com) or contact Russell & Associates on +27 11 880 3924.
Source: Just Means
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Mauritius will host a high profile conference on April 23-24 to discuss youth in tourism issues in the Southern African region.
The youth in tourism conference will take place in Pointe aux Piments. It will tackle issues like sustainable tourism development; mainstreaming tourism in the region; market access for youth operated business projects; and funding.
The Southern Africa Youth in Tourism conference is organised by the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) and the Mauritian Ministry of Tourism and Leisure.
A communication from RETOSA says the youth are the emerging leaders of their communities and the conference is being hosted as a platform to facilitate the involvement of youths in sustainable development of tourism in the region. The theme of the conference is: “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development through Involvement and Participation of the Youth”.
Its strategic objectives are to facilitate the mainstreaming of tourism into the education systems of states in the region, escalate youth participation in the development of the region, and to use tourism as a vehicle for employment creation thereby helping in the fight against poverty.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, who chairs SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Tourism; and UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF), Walter Mzembzi will be the keynote speaker.
Public and private stakeholders directly involved in youth in tourism initiatives and youths involved in the tourism sector will attend the conference.
“This conference will culminate in the election of a Youth in Tourism Steering Committee which will be the driving force responsible for the implementation of the Southern Africa Youth in Tourism Action Plan to be established at the conference,” RETOSA says.
RETOSA is the tourism-implementing agency for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Its primary objective is to facilitate and promote tourism growth and development in Southern Africa.
Its member states are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Source: Mmegi Online
The Mpumalanga water programme has provided water to a total of 24 villages in Bushbuckridge, benefiting 15 000 households in the municipality.
R298 million was spent on the programme, which was implemented in partnership with the Department of Water and Sanitation and Rand Water to provide water to rural communities with water shortages.
“A further R601 million is already being implemented as part of Phase 2 of the support to the municipality to benefit an additional 69 villages,” Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said on Friday.
Speaking at the opening of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, he said the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and proper human settlements was key to improving the quality of lives in the country.
Premier Mabuza said municipalities have been tasked with ensuring that water supply is supplemented with boreholes within the next three to four months.
“Where boreholes exist but are non-functional, such boreholes shall be refurbished within the next three to four months in order to ensure that our people have access to water,” Premier Mabuza said.
The province has set aside R186.2 million to address backlogs for the electrification of households in the province for the 2015/16 financial year as part of the Integrated National Electrification Programme.
He said government was implementing the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme to create job opportunities for communities in rural and tribal areas while simultaneously providing food security.
Government had come up with the War on Leaks Programme, which is aimed at improving the sustainability of water supply.
“Youth development, through this programme, shall be key as those with minimum qualifications would not only enjoy access to job opportunities but would also benefit in our long-term skills development and refinement of technical expertise,” Premier Mabuza said.
He said the provincial government would continue to support, strengthen and capacitate all institutions of traditional leadership in the province to accelerate rural development, nation building and social cohesion within traditional communities.
“We will continue to provide capacity and equipping all our traditional leaders with the necessary skills to enable them to better manage, control and lead their councils with professionalism.
“Government will continue to support the capacity building programme for traditional leaders to empower them with the requisite skills and competencies to contribute to economic growth and community development programmes in our tribal communities,” Premier Mabuza said.
Source: All Africa
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Around 250 new jobs are being promised for Castlebar in Co Mayo, with the opening of a hub for companies trying to set up businesses in the developing world.
The initiative is being overseen by OpenSparkz – a company that sources capital for sustainable business models.
The so-called ‘impact investment’ model brings funding from a range of sources, with the end goal of ensuring there is a lasting positive return for local communities.
The Global Sustainability Initiative will involve a number of companies working together at a facility in Castlebar.
These firms will be linked with local landowners in Africa to develop sustainable energy, food and water-related businesses.
40% of all profit generated will then be re-invested in the communities, to advance the provision of health, education and IT infrastructure.
Organisers say the aim is to create a safe and enduring economic model. The initial focus is on projects in South Africa.
A number of research areas have been identified. These include the development of new biomass fuel supplies to mitigate the impact of global warming; promoting the growth of organic foodstuffs and working to enhance the supply of drinking water.
OpenSparkz says it is in the process of completing contracts with ten companies that will operate from the hub.
These are working in the areas of food research, energy and waste management.
A suitable premises has been identified in recent weeks and is expected to be operational before the summer.
The project is being supported by Mayo County Council, with research backing from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and NUI Galway.
While a variety of companies will be based at the hub in Castlebar, they will be working to achieve common goals – to generate profit and leave a lasting legacy for the communities in which they operate.
The companies involved will have openings in the areas of Research and Development, IT Fund Management and other operational roles.
OpenSparkz founder Declan Conway says there is potential for further expansion but that the first 250 jobs will be filled over three years.
Details of the project will be formally announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and representatives from OpenSparkz in Washington this afternoon.
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The state of the nation address was a missed opportunity to begin the process of healing our democracy and restoring trust in its institutions. Instead it will go down in history as the moment in which the state tried to obstruct journalists, and police forcibly removed MPs. However, in the analysis of what transpired that night, a number of other human rights issues have been overlooked.
The address was also a wasted opportunity to open a dialogue on a genuinely inclusive social contract for the mining sector. On the contrary, a bias towards the concerns of elites over those of the poor and marginalised, and the status quo over change, was quite apparent.
Particularly troubling was the continued failure to recognise mine-affected communities as a stakeholder with legitimate interests and a right to take a seat at the bargaining table. The Draft Framework for Sustainable Mining was recently concluded between the government, mining sector and organised labour. Its most widely known flaw is that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the dominant union on the platinum belt, has not signed it.
Equally significant but less well known is the exclusion of organisations representing mine-affected communities. The organisation of communities into formal nationwide networks means engagement with this sector is far easier than previously. Yet their voices are still missing from negotiations.
While President Jacob Zuma said the streamlining of the mining, environmental and water licensing processes was in response to business requests, there were no corresponding examples of responsiveness to the requests of communities. While investors will now have a “one-stop departmental clearance house” to attend to complaints, communities will have no equivalent body to assist them in responding to violations of their environmental and other rights.
The disproportionate attention to the concerns of the industry and investors results in an incomplete picture of the effects of mining. For example, while mining-related environmental degradation threatens the health and livelihood of communities across SA, there was no mention of the environmental costs of mining.
This approach goes against that required by the constitution, which is founded on the values of respect for the dignity of all and the equal enjoyment of rights and freedoms. To realise this vision, the constitution enshrines the right to political participation, just administrative action, access to a basket of socioeconomic goods and to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing. These values require a human rights-based approach to governance in which the voices of all are valued, and vulnerable citizens get particular attention.
The exclusion of communities also runs contrary to the National Development Plan, which stresses active citizenship.
Mr Zuma sought to clearly communicate that his government was sensitive to the needs of investors. However, by sidelining the needs and priorities of key stakeholders, the government is doing investors no favours because the main requirement of investors is a stable environment in which the return on their investments is secure. If affected groups are excluded from decision-making and do not see their concerns addressed, they will be more likely to seek to disrupt the system. Stability in the system requires a social contract that addresses the needs and concerns of communities, all organised labour, the government, mining companies and investors.
While the debate over jammed signals continues in Parliament, another form of signal jamming is being overlooked: the inattentiveness of the government to concerns expressed by mining community organisations.
Soure: BD Live
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By Kevin Mearns
“Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity” Klaus Topfer, UNEP Executive Director.
Changes in the market forces, as well as the move towards more environmentally sensitive and sustainable forms of tourism, have led to significant changes in tourism. The emergence of sustainable development has been a major driving force in this change towards a new form of tourism. The negative economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts resulting from tourism’s rapid and unplanned developments associated with mass tourism led to calls for a new or alternative form of tourism. Sustainable or responsible tourism is one such alternative approach to tourism that has been embraced by the tourism industry in an attempt to respond to the changing market conditions.
The concept of sustainability has had a profound influence on the world and the way in which the tourism industry, and in fact all business, conducts itself. Business now has to concern itself not only with economics but also with social and environmental issues, referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Careful consideration must be given to the minimization of negative environmental impacts while enhancing the positive impacts. Responsible tourism is being advocated by the tourism industry to achieve equity, responsibility and sustainability. The Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism (2002) was the result of the Cape Town Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations organized by the Responsible Tourism Partnership as a side event preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The conference addressed ways in which stakeholders can work together to take responsibility for achieving the aspirations of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics and the principles of sustainable tourism. According to the Cape Town Declaration (2002) responsible tourism has the following characteristics:
- It minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
- It generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, and improves working conditions and access to the industry.
- It involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
- It makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, as well as to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.
- It provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
- It provides access for physically challenged people.
South Africa committed itself to the principle of responsible tourism in its 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa. The principles of responsible tourism were, however, later elaborated on (DEAT, 2002) Responsible tourism is about enabling communities to enjoy a better quality of life through increased socio-economic benefits and an improved environment. It is also about providing better holiday experiences for guests and good business opportunities for tourism enterprises.
But how do we measure how well or how badly we are doing in terms of our responsibility or sustainability targets? “Indicators have been identified as desirable instruments and/or measuring rods to assess and monitor the progress towards sustainable development”(Tsaur, Lin, & Lin, 2006) Indicators are defined by Hart (2013) as “something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be”. An indicator also has the ability to reduce a large quantity of information to its simplest form, without losing the essential information in order to answer questions being asked. Indicators are therefore variables that summarize relevant information to make visible phenomena of interest. Whereas statistics provide raw data with no meaning attached, indicators of sustainable development provide meaning that extends beyond the attributes directly associated with the data.
The use of sustainable tourism indicators was developed to help tourism managers obtain and use information in support of better decision making in the sustainable development of tourism. Indicators are proposed to be the building blocks for sustainable tourism and they are intended to be used as tools that respond to issues most important to managers of tourism destinations. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) explains that indicators are: measures of the existence or severity of current issues, signals of upcoming situations or problems, measures of risk and potential need for action, and a means to identify and measure the results of our actions.
Indicators are information sets which are formally selected to be used on a regular basis to measure changes that are of importance for tourism development and management. They can measure: a) changes in tourism’s own structures and internal factors, b) changes in external factors which affect tourism and c) the impacts caused by tourism. Both qualitative and quantitative information can be used for sustainability indicators.”
“Used properly, indicators can become key management tools – performance measures which supply essential information both to managers and all stakeholders in tourism. Good indicators can provide in-time information to deal with pressing issues
and help guide the sustainable development of a destination” (UNWTO, 2007)
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2004) some of the benefits of good indicators are the following:
- better decision making – lower risks and costs
- identification of emerging issues – allowing prevention
- identification of impacts – allowing corrective action when needed
- performance management of the implementation of plans and management activities – evaluating progress in the sustainable development of tourism
- reduced risk of planning mistakes – identifying limits and opportunities
- greater accountability – credible information for the public and other stakeholders of tourism fostering accountability for its wise use in decision making constant monitoring that can lead to continuous improvement – building solutions into management
The tourism industry has monitored destination performance for many years by using conventional tourism indicators such as arrival numbers and tourist expenditure. In the same way as GDP has been found to be an inadequate measure of human welfare, conventional indicators can be seen as inadequate measures of tourism’s true performance.
Indicators are those sets of information chosen because they are meaningful to our decisions and can be supported in a way that provides us with the information when needed. The UNWTO process was designed to assist tourism managers in identifying which information was key to their decisions. This would help them reduce the risks to their enterprise, the community and the environment. Consequently, the UNWTO identified a core set of indicators which are likely to be useful in almost any situation which needs additional indicators critical for management in a particular ecosystem or type of destination (UNWTO, 2004).
Indicators are not an end in themselves. They become relevant only if used in tourism planning and management processes, and ideally they become effective in creating better and more sustainable decisions.
The UNWTO (2004) indicates a series of applications in which indicators support tourism planning and management:
Indicators and policy: Indicators are helpful in identifying the key policy issues that need to be addressed during the development process to achieve effective and responsible management.
Using indicators to strategically plan for tourism: Planning is about knowing what you want, how you will get there and how you will know if you have achieved it. Indicators are useful in all three of these phases of planning for continual improvement, as they provide the means to measure how close the tourism venture is to the desired state or outcome.
Indicators and regulation: Most regulations are based on the achievement of a specific standard. Indicators assist in measuring adherence to these desired standards.
Carrying capacity and limits to tourism: Indicators can be very useful in monitoring whether specific limits or carrying capacities which may affect the sustainability of tourism are being reached.
Public reporting and accountability: The information collected through indicators needs to be shared with the public in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
indicators and certification programmes: Indicators are used to monitor and measure the adherence to a series of criteria as prescribed by the certification authority or programme.
Performance measurement and benchmarking: Tourism ventures are increasingly being called upon to measure their performance in relation to other tourism ventures and benchmarks. Indicators play a critical role in determining both benchmarks and baselines for comparison as well as the performance of tourism venture in relation to one another and the predetermined benchmarks.
In order to understand how well we are performing in terms of our sustainability targets we need to continuously monitor our performance. Monitoring should be kept simple and feedback should be obtained from visitors, tour operators and local people. Simpson (2008, p.263) supports this need for ongoing monitoring by stating that “[t]he importance of on- going monitoring cannot be understated in order to refine strategies, mitigate costs, maximize benefits to communities and ensure long-term sustainability of individual tourism initiatives”.
The results of indicator monitoring are not always self-evident and will be of little value if they cannot
be accurately interpreted and understood. Baselines, thresholds, targets and benchmarks provide valuable tools to assist in the interpretation of the results obtained from indicator measurement. Baselines normally represent the agreed starting point of the monitoring process, often being the first year for which data has been collected. The indicator results are then interpreted based on the degree of variance from the baseline. This tool works well as long as it is clear that the baseline may not necessarily represent
a desired state, as a critical limit may already have been exceeded.
A baseline, as the first tool used in the interpretation of results, does not always indicate what action is necessary and it will only indicate if a previous level has been exceeded. Additional tools for the interpretation need to be used in conjunction with the baseline data. These tools are thresholds, targets and benchmarks. Thresholds indicate a critical point or threshold that should not be passed. Thresholds often act as an early warning system which if reached should trigger some form of management action to ensure that the issue is resolved or remediated. Targets and benchmarks provide a focus or an aim of a desired subjective state that would like to be achieved. These targets and benchmarks continuously drive management actions towards the attainment of the target. Baseline data therefore forms a critical component in the interpretation of indicator results.
Sustainable tourism indicators have been identified as valuable tools for determining and monitoring sustainability. Indicators have also been said to operationalise sustainability by providing social, economic and environmental information that supports more effective and holistic tourism planning, management and decision making. Now the question arises which indicators should be used? Before selecting the indicators to use, two other important questions needed to be answered:
How many indicators need to be selected?
Clearly there was no ideal number of indicators to select. Any attempt to address all the aspects of sustainability using too few indicators would leave important gaps, while too many indicators in turn could overwhelm users and the collection of information for the numerous indicators could become too complex and time-consuming. According to the UNWTO (2004, p. 41) “[m]ost practitioners agree that it is essential to prioritize issues and the indicators that correspond to them, to help create a shorter list”. Furthermore, “practitioners agree 12-24 indicators are optimal” (UNWTO, 2004).
Which issues do the indicators need to address?
Issues that need to be addressed when measuring and monitoring the sustainability of a tourism venture need to include the new triple bottom line of sustainability reporting namely social, economic and environmental sustainability, or otherwise stated as people, profit and planet.
The World Tourism Organization (2004) identified 12 baseline issues and their associated baseline indicators which served as an important point of departure for the identification of indicators (Table 1). The list of baseline indicators covers a range of social, economic and environmental issues likely to be found in most destinations. In Table 1 the social, economic and environmental sustainability dimension has been added in square brackets for each baseline issue.
This list of indicators merely provides a basis upon which the sustainability performance of tourism ventures could be measured and monitored. The selected list of indicators need to be adapted to
suite local conditions and the tourism product being monitored in order to provide valuable information to guide sustainability decision making that is relevant to the product and local conditions. As tourists become more aware of their impacts on the environment, they are demanding more sustainable tourism experiences.
In an attempt to respond to these changing market trends the tourism industry has to embrace respon- sible tourism. Responsible tourism in turn can only be achieved if all the relevant role players are able to take collective responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism in order to create better places for people to live in and to visit.
Source: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Handbook Volume 1
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