‘Sign up to sustainable development goals’ travel urged

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One of the world’s leading economists has urged travel businesses to commit to the UN sustainable development goals adopted last September.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, professor of sustainable development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, told members of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC): “We’re trying to get to a new path for the world.”

Sachs told the WTTC summit in Dallas: “I don’t know if we’re on that path yet, but we got somewhere last September when the UN adopted 17 sustainable development goals, and in December when 193 governments agreed the Paris climate agreement.

“You may be the [most] consumer-facing industry. I urge your industry to adapt the sustainable development goals as something meaningful.

“The scale and scope of your industry is so great. If you take on these goals it will make difference.”

Sachs said: “I would like to walk into a hotel and see that it declared ‘We support the UN sustainable development goals’.

“The stakes are high. Your role is enormous. You are one of the world’s major job providers. Please look at the goals.”

He added: “There is a choice. We are in the midst of the most remarkable technological revolution. We can have a world where we transfer to a sustainable energy system or we could wreck it all. Achieving the goals is not inevitable.”

Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), told the summit: “Our industry needs to attach itself to the agenda for sustainable development.”

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