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Waking up – tourism, climate change and the SDGs

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Professor Susanne Becken's presentation to Tourism and Sustainable Development Goals conference, Massey University, Auckland, 2019

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Waking up – tourism, climate change and the SDGs

  1. 1. Waking up – tourism, climate change and the SDGs Prof Susanne Becken Griffith Institute for Tourism
  2. 2. Part I: Does tourism contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?
  3. 3. Best practice – Reducing carbon
  4. 4. Best practice – Poverty alleviation
  5. 5. Best practice – Partnerships New Zealand’s Tiaki Promise was launched by seven organisations from Government and industry to provide a platform for promoting responsible tourism behaviour.
  6. 6. UNWTO: “Public and private sector are committed to SDGs…” Are they?
  7. 7. Streetlight effect?
  8. 8. www.tourismdashboard.org
  9. 9. Poverty Alleviation?
  10. 10. Dispersion of Tourism and Equity?
  11. 11. Carbon Emissions (aviation)
  12. 12. Part II: Climate change An existential risk to humanity (The Club of Rome, 2018)
  13. 13. We have 12 years left before reaching 1.5˚ C warmin Decarbonisation is urgent and must start now. Adaptation is inevitable and needs to be embedde in business.
  14. 14. https://www.climateinteractive.org/programs/scoreboard/ Emission pathways
  15. 15. “Given the importance of Travel & Tourism to the world economy and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the growing imperative to address climate change in a meaningful way, WTTC and UNFCCC are delighted to work together towards a carbon neutral world“. WTTC https://www.wttc.org/- /media/files/declarations/unfccc-climate-change.pdf
  16. 16. Part III: Change More than a nudge
  17. 17. Growth paradigm, capitalism and structures - Function of capitalism (return on capital must grow): M – C – M’ - Often embedded in neoliberalism (free markets, minimum Govt intervention) - Concentration of capital creates (reinforces) elites - Social Dominance Theory suggests that people with power will always seek more of the desirable things they have at the expense of their subordinates.
  18. 18. Tourism firmly embedded in growth (for growth’s sake?) Brandalism campaign, 2016 COP Paris
  19. 19. UNWTO, WTTC, IATA etc. Members and partners Respond to members’ aims of economic growth by: • Disseminating data on tourism arrivals and expenditure. • Investing into growth-focused programs. • Advocating for growth-oriented policies with Governments. • Linking with global providers for development finance. • Supporting sustainable tourism with a focus on sustainable growth. Embedded in neoliberal paradigm and growth narrative by: • Producing and demanding growth-related tourism statistics. • Applying for membership to be part of ‘elite’ and obtain preferential access to information and resources. • Requesting finance and other support for development. Academics, NGOs… Subscribe to agenda by: • Co-producing reports • Providing consultancy to growth-oriented programs • Working within accepted parameters and norms Institutions / players
  20. 20. Measures of success need to change Government: GDP Tourism managers: arrivals, expenditure Companies: profit, shareholder return Well-being Net benefit of tourism Value creation
  21. 21. Well-being as the outcome OECD How’s Life and New Zealand Treasury Living Standards Dashboard (2018). Tourism uses capital(s) to produce services, e.g.: • Development • Land use change • “Social license” • Ecosystem services Tourism rebuilds capital(s), e.g.: • Staff training • Cultural activities • Ecosystem restoration • Carbon offsetting Anna Pollock: Moving from Tourism as an EXTRACTIVE Industry to a REGENERATIVE Industry
  22. 22. Disruption and redistribution of power - Collaborative economy, new business models - Cooperatives (capital owned by community) and social entrepreneurs - Circular economy, dematerialisation, decroissance
  23. 23. Role of Media – mirror of society or shaping discourse?
  24. 24. - Tourism’s carbon footprint increased by 14% between 2009 and 2013, despite reductions in carbon intensity of 12.9% (Lenzen et al., 2017). - Focus on technological efficiency and not behavioural change -> conservation of resources. Moving from incrementalism to profound behavioural change
  25. 25. Incentive structures Global advertising budget of US$ 584 billion in 2017 (tourism included). In 2021, the advertisement industry will collectively spend US$757 billion (Statista, 2018) Award schemes???
  26. 26. Focusing on positive outcomes
  27. 27. - Strongly driven by industry interests (example: CORSIA – IATA & ICAO) - All-too-often reactive and short-term – risk adverse, i.e. by definition mainstream and not revolutionary - Tourism Ministries rarely develop specific climate policy nor do they connect to national climate policies/targets - Increasingly controlled by outside interests (think cruise ships) Tourism policy and governance
  28. 28. Local control – including representation of nature
  29. 29. Based on L. Dwyer and A. Pollock
  30. 30. Why do Academics not speak up? Assuming they believe the current system has failed.
  31. 31. External and internal barriers to communicate ‘collapse’ - Difficult to swim against the tide and challenge established leaders, narratives, textbook arguments - Scientists want to be 100% sure (see IPCC process) and avoid ‘panic’; messages need to give hope (i.e. implicit self-censorship) - It is easier to frame the “challenge as one of encouraging people to try harder to be nicer and better, rather than coming together in solidarity to either undermine or overthrow a system that demands we participate in environmental degradation” (Bendall, 2018) - Identity: in particular those involved in sustainability where “self-worth is dependent on the perspective that progress on sustainability is possible and that we are part of that progressive process” (Bendall, 2018)
  32. 32. THANK YOU Prof Susanne Becken | s.becken@griffith.edu.au

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