We cannot solve the greatest challenges to health by working in isolation. That is why we provide entrepreneurs and government ministries with ways to measure, report, and mitigate environmental and climate change impacts on communities that are dependent on tourism.
As we face the growing probability that climate change will undermine the enormous value of tourism investments worldwide, and as the impacts of climate change continue to escalate, nations and entrepreneurs have barely begun to deliberate on the impacts climate change will have on tourism-dependent countries and their communities. We accelerate the response by helping industry measure, report, mitigate, and adapt in order to garner the substantial human and financial resources required to help local destinations decarbonize and deploy proven approaches to environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
To this end, we have launched a global dialogue between industries, governments, and universities who can, together, inform evidence-based decisions for building the sustainable infrastructure communities need to support tourism. Our conversations also contribute to nations’ processes for implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Tourism and Environmental Health in a Changing Climate: A New Framework for Tourism Destinations
We equip change makers with evidence they need to act now to protect and improve the environments that determine our health. Our International Sustainable Tourism Initiative (ISTI) Framework is a holistic management tool to allow governments to review the full cost of managing tourism at the destination level.
The framework helps local governments measure consumption of resources related to tourism activities and monitor progress towards a selected set of environmental strategies, so that their regions can meet global, national, and local goals for sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. It was designed to go beyond operational impact and include broader systems, such as the vital natural resources that need to be protected to improve resilience to climate change impacts.
This management framework uncovers the indirect costs of tourism development and reveals to local authorities how to prevent boom and bust cycles, and avoid growth without adequate recompense for supporting sustainable infrastructure in host countries. We are establishing collaborative research programs to pilot our framework with local research and planning institutions in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
Local authorities will benefit in a number of ways. For example, the framework will:
- Reveal the indirect costs of tourism growth, and the investment required to protect environmental health and local population well-being
- Measure municipal costs for servicing tourism and guide decision making on policies and infrastructure
- Help to develop strategic mitigation and adaptation plans to protect tourism economies and local populations when climate impacts worsen
- Trigger international funding, subsidies, and impact investment for sustainable infrastructure projects, such as solar energy and alternative waste treatment for tourism areas
- Create a new category of research based on empirical data to drive global research cooperation on destination planning
Contact Megan Epler Wood, Director of our International Sustainable Tourism Initiative, for more information.
FEATURED PROJECT: Tunisia
EplerWood International is partnered with the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to review the broad environmental costs of managing tourism with a new project in Tunisia supported by the German cooperation agency, GIZ. The project is using the Paris Accord framework to assess how the tourism economy can be managed to mitigate factors which cause higher GHG emissions, such as energy, solid waste, waste water, and transportation. Data has been gathered for two destinations in Tunisia, Tozeur and Djerba as a pilot to test how well 1) the destinations can measure their total costs and impacts from tourism development 2) Plan for lowering costs per tourist and mitigate the rising costs of tourism consumption, 3) develop strategies for long term low impact tourism infrastructure to power the future of Tunisia. The final workshop will take place in Tunisia in November 2018 and the final report will be available December 2018.
The framework will help local governments measure consumption of resources related to tourism activities and monitor progress towards a selected set of environmental strategies. It is designed to go beyond operational impact and include broader systems, such as the vital natural resources that need to be protected to improve resilience to climate change impacts.
We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on this project with:
- The Travel Foundation
- GIZ in two destinations in Tunisia
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. John Spengler
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Henry Lee
Team Member: Sofia Fotiadou, Research Manager