Leaders called to action on climate change

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pretoria - Governments must find a way to get multilateral institutions, global tourism industry bodies and private corporations to respond positively to the risks of climate change, says Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk.

"If we fail in this task over the next few years, we will fail in giving the aviation and tourism sector an opportunity to speak and act with the political weight it deserves as the creator of one in every 10 jobs globally," said the minister on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Pre-summit on Green and Shared Growth in Aviation, Travel and Tourism in Cape Town.

Van Schlakwyk said in response to climate change, the world needed to forge much stronger cross-industry and public-private partnerships. "Together, we must put in place the frameworks for implementing the technology and infrastructure needed to decarbonise air transport."

For tourism, he said, there needs to be more collaboration across the value chain on creative innovations which can allow the whole sector to "decarbonise".

Through the work of the Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industry Council, the WEF had made "major strides" in gathering parties around the same table to discuss shared risks, and to explore the synergies that could help the world to unlock shared opportunities.

"The most recent work on the transformation to a low-carbon sector, and the ongoing work programmes that underpin our excellent agenda for the remainder of today, testify to that," said van Schalkwyk.

He added that if world leaders were serious about changing the policy and institutional landscape, serious discussion was needed on the implications for UN reform and the strengthening of its institutions.

"We will have to work harder than ever to make ourselves heard; to make the world understand that the travel and tourism sector is an important vehicle to help achieve shared green growth."

The minister further said aviation, travel and tourism can be decarbonised through balanced voluntary action, market mechanisms and regulatory incentives. This would not only contribute to 2050 climate targets, but will create decent jobs, attract socially responsible investment, and encourage entrepreneurs. It will also stimulate two-way trade, reduce poverty in developing countries, and strengthen rural economies.

The WEF forum on Africa kicks off today, with more than 900 participants from 60 countries expected to attend.