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UN: Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity

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The plants, animals, and micro-organisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline, according to a UN study. If these critical species are lost, it “places the future of our food system under severe threat”.

Read the BBC full article here.

Written by: Matt McGrath

Credit: United Nations

You’ve heard the letters S, D, and G being used a lot lately, but what do they mean? In this week’s PATA Sustain’s green tips, we are passing along our top tips that can help you do your part to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

   1. Knowledge is power

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. The United Nations have set a supremely ambitious and transformational vision to realize the human rights of all and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. Therefore, the first step for us to be involved is to read and understand as much we as can. We understand that most people do not have the patience to read reports that are over 40 pages long. So here is an article by The Guardian on Sustainable development goals: all you need to know. If that is still too much for you, watch a short clip about the SDGs here.

Don’t stop there though, follow the UN Sustainable Development Goals platform on Facebook here. PATA also has a free publication available for download: The Olive Tree, which explores how the SDGs and travel and tourism are interlinked. Educate yourself on the problems that happen all over the world and learn from the best practices!

   2. Support your government and companies in your country

The UN provides substantive support and capacity building for the SDGs and their related thematic issues, including water, energy, climate, oceans, urbanization, transport, science and technology, and many more. It won’t take you long to realise that these issues may already be impacting your neighborhood. In order to make the 2030 agenda a reality, we need the commitment from all stakeholders, especially the ones that are closest to us.

This brings us back to tip #1: Knowledge. Start by finding out if your government has integrated the SDGs into the country development plan. See this full list of countries that are involved in the UN’s Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). TheVNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences between nations, including success, challenges and lessons learned. If your country is listed, chances are your government or local organisations already have events planned in efforts to support the SDGs. For example, Green Fins Thailand, an initiative by United Nations and Reef-World Foundation, contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 14 (Life Below Water) and 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) by carrying out regular beach and coastal clean-ups. This is also a great opportunity for local communities to be involved.


3. The time is now

If you don’t already work for an organisation that fully supports the SDGs, you can still do your part by volunteering! Join the Scholars of Sustenance Foundation team to go on food runs to contribute to Goal 2 (Zero Hunger). If you simply cannot find the time to do, you may be surprised at just how easy it is for you to make a change. Contribute to Goal 13 (Climate Action) by reducing food waste to landfill.

If gender equality is of big importance to you, contribute to Goal 2 (Gender Equality) by supporting the rights of domestic workers in your home and community. Did you know that tens and millions of women and girls are employed in a private household? Despite their important roles, they are among the most exploited and abused workers in the world. Visit “My Fair Home” to take a pledge!

Did you know?

Every year, the UN SDG Action Award recognises individuals, civil society organizations, subnational governments, foundations, networks, private sector leaders who are advancing the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way. The winners will be announced at a special SDG Action Awards ceremony, at the Global Festival of Action on 2 May.

Keep a look out for award nominees by following their facebook page.

In a nutshell, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We must continue to address the global challenges that the world is currently facing. We need to wake up and realise that human behaviour is the main reason for our increasingly volatile planet. Together, we can make a change.

Read more of #PATASustain green tips here.


The slogan “For The Planet” is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. Francois Mori/AP


Representatives from 196 nations made a historic pact on Dec. 12, 2015, in Paris to adopt green energy sources, cut down on climate change emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures — while also cooperating to cope with the impact of unavoidable climate change.

The agreement acknowledges that the threat of climate change is “urgent and potentially irreversible,” and can only be addressed through “the widest possible cooperation by all countries” and “deep reductions in global emissions.”

But how deep will those reductions be — and how soon, and who’s paying for it?

Here are some key figures from the final agreement.

By Camila Domonoske from The Two Way




The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.


To that end, please explore the official IY2017 website at, which is their primary tool for coordinating the worldwide celebrations of the year, and on which more than 200 events and activities have already been registered. The UNWTO kindly invites you to upload your IY2017-related initiatives, as well as to share your best practices, stories and/or knowledge. Your initiatives will be visible on the website’s calendar and global map, and you will be able to use the IY2017 logo in all your communications. Kindly note that all the information they receive will be included in their final report to the UN General Assembly in 2018.

Furthermore, UNWTO is organizing a series of events and activities, the details of which you can find in the attached document. For instance, they are running a consumer-oriented awareness-raising campaign “Travel.Enjoy.Respect.” with six useful tips for responsible travel, and would very much like you to help disseminate it as broadly as possible. In addition, UNWTO is organizing 14 IY2017 Official Events, as well as producing two flagship reports related to the themes and objectives of the IY2017, for which your support and input would be more than welcome and on which more info will follow shortly. As part of their awareness-raising activities, they have also initiated a Special Ambassadors programme, currently comprising seven high-profile individuals who will help spread the relevant messages regarding tourism as an agent for positive change.

Read more: PATA Sustainability & IY2017 Initiatives



Travellers need to start making sustainable choices

Whether it is a chic, zero-emission hotel in Milan where toiletries are 99% biodegradable, or Gaansbai in South Africa, where conservation of native flora and fauna is a community-wide priority, sustainable tourism is growing fast across the globe.

It is a tribute to the myriad entrepreneurs, companies, creative individuals and communities that the United Nations is marking 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This means that, throughout 2017, activities and initiatives across the spectrum of those involved in tourism will celebrate its transformational power on our global efforts to create a world that is cleaner and greener, more equal and more inclusive.

It is a celebration for each and every one of us: those who work and have interest in the sector and its sustainability, and also those consumers who travel to discover, to experience, and to give something back in return.

Research shows that a rising number of travellers want to tread lightly. The modern tourist wants to give back to the countries and communities they visit and reduce their impact on the environment. The campaign “Travel.Enjoy.Respect” that is linked to the International Year aims at precisely underlining the role of the traveller in amplifying the potential of tourism while avoiding damage on the environment, traditions, culture, heritage and local communities.

But what are the options for the would-be green traveller? How much of an impact can one person have?

Click here to read the original article from Bangkok Post.

By Taleb Rifai, Erik Solheim & Patricia Espinosa.

Taleb Rifai is Director-General of the World Tourism Organisation. Erik Solheim is Head of UN Environment. Patricia Espinosa is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.



Image Source: The Huffington Post

The HLPF (High Level Political Forum) on sustainable development is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development. It provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations. It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments. It addresses new and emerging challenges; promotes the science-policy interface and enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. By Dr. Dave Randle. Read more.


Support the Sustainable Development Goals

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Image source: UN Sustainable Development Platform Facebook page

On World Tourism Day 2014 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasised “harnessing tourism’s benefits will be critical to achieving the sustainable development goals and implementing the post-2015 development agenda“.

In order to harness tourism’s benefits, we must also work together.

As part of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) efforts to promote and coordinate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform was created. This includes Partnerships for SDGs, an online platform established to encourage worldwide engagement around multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary commitments in support of the implementation of the goals.

It is a useful platform for keeping up to date with multi-stakeholder initiatives in the tourism and travel industry – and there are plenty. The site also provides easy ways to take action and get involved.

If you are currently involved in a partnership that is working towards achieving any of the SDGs and their corresponding targets, then you can register your own. It is a excellent way to be connected at a global level, increase accountability and sharing of innovative ideas.

To find out how tourism can contribute to the SDGs click here.


World Water Day: better water, better jobs

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Today marks the 24th World Water Day! World Water Day dates back to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in 1992 where an international observance for water was recommended. Since 1993  the 22 March has become World Water Day. Each year UN-Water sets a theme around a current or future water challenge.

This year the theme is ‘better water, better jobs.’ It seeks to shed light on how workers’ lives and livelihoods are dependent on the quantity and quality of water and that this has a huge impact on societies and economies.

Did you know that today “about three quarters of households in sub-Saharan Africa fetch water from a source away from their home” (WHO/UNICEF, 2012). What’s more, 50-85% of the time it is women who carry out this task (ILO/WGF, n.d). This is one water related fact that should change.

So what can you do as a tourism business? Well as an organisation you have the power to create awareness, educate and take action with your staff, visitors and or other organisation you work with. Ideas include:

  • Make your voice heard on social media today by sending a selfie or group photo on how water is a part of your business
  • Send a submission to UN-Water on how water has changed your life or community
  • Think about what water means to you and submit an art work
  • Organise a debate in your office or organisation
  • Record a film and send it to UN-Water
  • Organise a photo contest
  • Or, get creative – think of something completely out of the box!

To watch the official 2016 trailer which gives a good depiction of this year’s theme click here.

To view an interesting image slideshow depicting the relationship between water and the world of work click here.

To expand your knowledge on water related challenges and opportunities check out the following articles and readings:

And remember, just because World Water Day is today, does not mean you should stop on the 23 March! Raise awareness, educate and take action throughout the year to truly be a part of creating better jobs through better water.


United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 – A Summit for Us All

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United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

This week the world will observe the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit held in New York from September 25th to September 27th. World leaders and representatives of regions around the world will unite with the hopes of coming to proactive decisions to move towards the global movement to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The new sustainable development agenda will be discussed along with 17 goals and 169 targets to address economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection; the elements that tie sustainable development together.
So what can you do to help? The UN is calling, not only on world leaders, but on everyone who lives on our planet, uses its resources and experiences the wonders it provides. If you’re someone who isn’t sure how this is relevant to you, think again. We are all affected, and can be effective! Every little bit helps.


World CharterThe ‘World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20’ was adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Tourism in Vitoria on 26 and 27 November.

This document incorporates the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development held in September 2015, and represents a great opportunity to firmly steer tourism towards an inclusive and sustainable way.

Read more here.