Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, the Moroccan minister of tourism will propose the adoption of what he calls the “African Charter for Sustainable Tourism” during his visit to the Ivory Coast for a continental tourism conference this week, a government communique obtained by Morocco World News said.
Haddad landed in Abidjan on Tuesday to attend the 58th edition of the annual conference of the African Commission for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), according to the international organization’s website. Government officials and private stakeholders in African tourism will be present at the event ending on April 21st to discuss “accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production patterns” and a 10-year framework of programs (10YFP) to achieve associated goals.
The Moroccan minister expects the sustainability pact to be signed “on the sidelines” of the COP22 climate to be held in Marrakech in November.
In January, Morocco adopted a draft charter on sustainable tourism during the first edition of the “Moroccan Day of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism” in Rabat.
“The proposal embodies the positioning of our country as a tourism sustainability leader in the region,” Hadded said in the communique.
During the ongoing meetings, world leaders will also discuss the implementation of the mission of the international organization Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty Initiative (ST-EP), which was born in Johannesburg in 2002 as part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Emphasis will also be placed on the detriments of tourism development in the African continent to make sure the process occurs at an environmentally safe level, the minister’s release said.
“Hence, the need for strong cooperation focused on increased ownership in consumption patterns and sustainable production with greater distribution of wealth between the northern parts of the continent and the southern ones.”
Eleven years after the world summit in South Africa, over 35 countries had expressed interest in becoming founding members of ST-EP and hosting regional offices for the organization in the country, though little news of the opening of new offices have been reported since the original show of interest.
Last December, the U.N. declared a resolution naming 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”
Tourism represents an important source of income for African nations due to the inflow of foreign currency it generates, which grows the countries’ GDPs and creates new employment opportunities.
Critics, notably from the U.N,’s own environmental division – suggest that an emphasis on tourism makes impoverished countries dependent on the well-being of developed economies, as tightly-budgeted families are less likely to go on vacation.
According to the division’s statistics, poorer countries in Africa rely on tourism to generate income for the survival of their people. Gambia, for instance, utilizes 30 percent of its workforce to provide services and goods directly and indirectly related to its expected visitors.
Numbers describing the continent as a whole say vacationers’ economic hold on Africa will remain the same in the coming decade. A 2015 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said it expects the industry it represents to make-up over six percent of Africa’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2025 – not a significant change from the report’s slightly lower estimate for 2015, which was also just above six percent of GDP.
A Morocco-specific analysis by the WTTC in 2015 said the tourism industry’s share in the national economy would stagnate at just below 18 percent from 2014 to 2025.
World leaders in Paris are in the midst of critical climate negotiations toward the first enforceable agreement in two decades. We hope that two giant questions–too often missed or downplayed–will be a focus:
• Can our food system–now speeding climate change while leaving a quarter of humanity suffering nutritional deprivation–reverse course?
• Instead of a climate curse, can our food system become part of the climate cure, while at the same time producing nutritious food that’s accessible to the world’s poorest people?
Big changes! But evidence of their possibility mounts. First, however, the big obstacles.
Our industrializing food system–from land to landfill–has become a big climate troublemaker, estimated to account for up to 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Most startling, these emissions are growing so fast that, if they continue at current rates, in thirty-five years those from our food system alone could nearly reach the safe target set for all greenhouse gas emissions.
To get a fix on how big the problem is, take in these fast facts:
• Agriculture alone contributes nearly a fifth of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions; and industrial agriculture (that using manufactured inputs) releases two to three times more carbon dioxide per unit of land than does organic farming.
• Since the industrial era began, humans have removed a third of the Earth’s carbon-absorbing forest cover largely to grow crops, a shift that can reduce soil carbon per unit of land by more than 40 percent. That’s an area roughly the size of South America. Increasingly, that land is growing feed or fuel, not the basic foods of the planet’s poor majorities.
• Soils treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers hold about 30 percent less organic carbon compared to organically managed soils.
The current model of industrial agriculture–only about 70 years old–has already proven to be a dead end. But, by adopting ecological practices, farming would emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions and store more carbon.
And now to my second question–food accessibility for those who most need it? Ecological practices free farmers from expensive corporate-controlled inputs, so they especially benefit small-scale farmers and farmworkers, who also are the majority of hungry people. Some of these beneficial practices are:
Composting–returning to the soil decaying organic material from plant and animal wastes. Just one ton of organic material can result in storing almost 600 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Agroforestry –integrating trees on farms. It improves crop productivity and yields additional food and fodder from the trees. Globally, says the World Bank, among a range of ecological farming practices, “agroforestry by far has the highest sequestration potentials.” One study
found that this approach in the EU, combined with other ecological farming practices, has the technical potential to sequester GHGs equivalent to 37 percent of its 2007 emissions.