Report on ‘Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency’ plan for 2020

This is a report of my progress during 2020 on my ‘Tourism Declares’ plan, published on 27 January 2020.

1. Reduce my footprint:

  • Continue to participate in meetings remotely by conference call wherever possible, to avoid travel. 

All meetings in 2020 were conducted remotely, rather than in person (albeit this was in part facilitated by travel restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than by design). 

  • Encourage others to present at conferences or meetings that I have been invited, where their carbon footprint for attending will be lower than mine. 

This turned out to be unnecessary during 2020 because travel to conferences and meetings was restricted amid COVID-19, and most face-to-face conferences and meetings were cancelled, or converted into virtual meetings.  

  • When I do fly for work or leisure, I will select options that generate lower emissions, including combining multiple-destinations on my trips.

Three international and three domestic flights taken during 2020 and were made using the shortest routes permissible under COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

  • Attend conferences and meetings in person only where my presence can have a meaningful impact by communicating sustainability messages, and when remote participation is not possible.

As noted above, all meetings in 2020 were conducted remotely, rather than in person. 

2. Offset my impact:

  • Offset carbon generated by flights for work and recreation, including through reputable offsetting organisations and/or planting trees with institutions I trust such as the Wilderness Wildlife Trust and others. 

I calculate that international and domestic flights in 2020 for myself and my family generated 40 tonnes of CO2. This was offset in January 2021 through Climate Care, with the purchase of 44 tones of emissions offset. 

  • Include carbon offset allocations for flights within future project budgets, and ensure that my clients are aware of this as a direct project cost.

This plan was initiated at the start of 2020, but was paused as no project travel took place after this plan was devised, due to pandemic travel restrictions. 

  • Continue to preferentially use Ecosia as my web-browser.

This has continued. 

3. Advocate for change:

I have encouraged members of the group and its ExCo to join Tourism Declares.

  • Continue to actively contribute as a Board member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to promote the GSTC criteria and sustainable tourism activities that integrate climate actions.

I have encouraged directors of the GSTC, and the GSTC, to join Tourism Declares. 

  • Continue to work on sustainable tourism assignments on projects that embed climate actions within them, and with clients who are addressing climate change.

Projects incorporating climate change elements included work for UNDP in Thailand, an assignment with UNEP on COVID-19 and tourism.

The “Handbook for sustainable tourism practitioners: The essential toolbox” was due to contain two chapters on climate change and sustainable tourism and offsetting. Although these were agreed with authors, COVID-19 pandemic pressures during 2020 forced their withdrawal. Unfortunately this took place too close to the publisher’s manuscript submission date to find alternative authors.  While this is a regrettable gap in the final manuscript, Tourism Declares is mentioned in two of the other chapters, and a box on Climate Change and Tourism is provided in the introduction. The book will be available from Edward Elgar in April 2021, and I hope a second edition (!) will include full climate change chapters.

Papers relating to COVID-19 and climate change were shared on a broader blog post on COVID-19 and sustainable tourism: Information resources and links throughout the year. 

  • Share this commitment on my blog and other social media sites. 

The commitment was shared on my blog with a link to the Tourism Declares site. 

  • Encourage others in my networks to join the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency.

A number of presentations made during the year at virtual meetings included information about Tourism Declares and climate change and tourism, including:

  • Spenceley, A. Keynote: Setting the scene: Impacts of the pandemic on the tourism sector and building back greenerUNEP’s online side event of the 26th Meeting of the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy, available here, 9 November 2020
  • Spenceley, A. Keynote: The future of tourism in natural areas: Reflecting on impact. The Future of tourism in naturalareas, Community Lab – sharing and exchange. OECD Trento Centre and TSM. 23 November 2020
  • Spenceley, A. Preparation for tourism after COVID-19: Sustainable tourism and building back better, 2020 International Tourism Cooperation Policy Forum, Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, 25 November 2020


Want to declare, too?

If you work in tourism and feel similarly about the Climate Emergency, please visit Tourism Declares. The goal is to encourage and enable as many travel companies, organizations and individuals to get involved, declare a climate emergency, and to take action.

Tourism Declares supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions. Visit the Tourism Declares website, and find resources and guidance on how to declare.

Preview: Handbook for Sustainable Tourism Practitioners – Due April 2021

This insightful Handbook brings together the practical guidance of over 50 international practitioners in sustainable tourism. Applying strong research design principles it provides a workable and rational toolkit for investigating practical challenges while accounting for modest timeframes and resources.

Expert contributors illustrate how to undertake environmental, socio-cultural and economic assessments that establish the feasibility of new tourism ventures and ascertain their impact over time. Chapters cover fundamentals including how to conduct feasibility studies and business plans, and address key topics such as visitor management and overcrowding. Offering how-to tools and step-by-step guidance, this Handbook combines academic insight with extensive professional experience to outline the best practices for an array of tasks to inform sustainable tourism planning, development and operation.

Incorporating concrete solutions employed in numerous contexts, this Handbook is crucial reading for practitioners of sustainable tourism and agencies commissioning sustainable tourism assignments who are in need of innovative methods and up-to-date guidance in the field. It will also benefit tourism scholars, particularly those investigating practical methodologies for creating sustainable tourism experiences.

Due for publication in April 2021.
More information about Edward Elgar handbooks:

Transforming Tourism for a resilient and sustainable post COVID world – One Planet event summary, materials & recording

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest, very powerful wake-up call about the links between environment, economy and human wellbeing. The tourism sector is one of those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  How to rebuild tourism so that it supports the shift towards more resilient and sustainable communities? 

With this question in mind, UNEP brought together more than 350 participants from the wider European region and other parts of the world to discuss how to build back greener by applying principles of circularity, digitalization, innovation and cooperation. Tourism experts, representatives of  European governments, tourism institutions and international organisations, NGOs,  as well as academia shared their ideas and experiences on opportunities and challenges for a more sustainable tourism industry in a post-COVID scenario. The event provided an overview of the  impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector and examples of aligning recovery plans and investments with a transition that meets the objectives of health and safety, sustainability, climate action and biodiversity protection. The speakers highlighted the importance of policy coherence and public-private partnerships, as well as innovation through digital transformation. Many solutions are available and can be efficiently used through close collaboration and coordination among destinations, businesses, the local communities, visitors, policy makers, as well as investors. 

All information linked to this event is available in the One Planet Network website (including the recordings, documents and resources and quotes from speakers) using the link here.

To listen to this online event you can find the direct links to the recording here in English and here in Russian.

Election results IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group)

We have finalised the results of our recent TAPAS Exco elections, and please find the results below:

Chair: 1 candidate

95.7% of respondents were happy for Dr Anna Spenceley to continue in her role as Chair

Economics: 2 candidates

1st place: Dr Thiago Beraldo Souza: 65.2% of vote
2nd place: Dr Mahmoud Sarhan: 34.7% of vote

Biodiversity: 4 candidates

1st place: Dr Yu-Fai Leung: 80% of vote
2nd place: Dr Pranab J Patar: 11% of vote
3rd/4th place: Masotja Kunene and Angel Nieva Garcia: both with 4.4% of vote

Number of TAPAS Group members voting: 47
% of membership (674 people): 7%

Anna Spenceley retains her position of chair, Yu-Fai Leung retains his previous position leading the biodiversity group, and Thiago Beraldo Souza moves from knowledge development to economics.

Sincere thanks to the efforts of Barbara Engels, the outgoing lead of the economics group. Her coordination over the past years and initiative to establish the ‘Visitor Counts!’ guideline with our members leaves an fantastic legacy.

Many thanks to all the candidates for putting their names forward, and also thanks to the TAPAS Group members that voted.

TAPAS Group website
TAPAS Group Facebook page
TAPAS Group LinkedIn group

UNEP online event: Transforming tourism for a resilient and sustainable post-COVID world. 9 November 2020

Check out the programme and register here:

UN Environment Programme Anna Spenceley IUCNMarika Palosaari Jane Stacey OECD – OCDE Sergio Guerreiro Tim Fairhurst ETOA – European tourism association
#resilience #business #innovation #circulareconomy #digitalization #sustainability #partnerships #SDG12 #communities #buildingbackbetter #recovery #health #greeneconomy #climateaction @iucntourism

Webinar recording: GLF Biodiversity Digital Conference – 28 October 2020

This session aimed to discuss the potential new challenges arising from the COVID 19 pandemic for protected areas, lessons learned and the way forward in the form of a digital roundtable with participants from diverse backgrounds and with diverse viewpoints. There was a multifaceted discussion of highly complex political questions helping to draw action-oriented conclusions to inform protected areas discussions at the IUCN World Conservation Congress and CBD COP 15.  Based on the debate and suggested policy responses, a policy paper will be prepared for further discussion.

Webinar recording on YouTube (start at 5 mins 26 seconds)

Event website and Concept note

Online workshop: Social safeguard for protected area tourism in sub-Saharan Africa

Wednesday 11 November 2020 (English & French)

Prospect C&S, as a member of the consortium led by COWI Belgium, has been entrusted to conduct the study entitled « Strengthening and replication of ecotourism achievements in the protected areas of sub-Saharan Africa ». This study is financed by the European Commission, under the Framework Contract SIEA 2018 (EuropeAid/138778/DH/SER/MULTI).

The European Union has been supporting the conservation of biodiversity in protected areas of sub-Saharan Africa for several decades. Among the multiple actions supported, several have focused on the development of tourism as the main ecosystem service provided by these protected areas. The objective is to guide the European Union and its partner countries in the future actions of development of ecotourism in the protected areas supported in sub-Saharan Africa.

The current study focuses on development of a social safeguard document that provides measures to protect indigenous and local populations from being harmed by tourism projects in protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. The social safeguard is based on international best practices – particularly from the World Bank Group, UNDP, IUCN and WWF – and is couched in the realities being faced by Project Affected Communities associated with protected areas across the region.  

A draft social safeguard document has been prepared, using international best practice materials and in consultation with protected area representatives in Central and West Africa. We want to ensure that the safeguard is relevant and applicable to sub-Saharan Africa, and therefore request your input to:

  1. Review the draft social safeguard document and screening template and provide feedback.
  2. Participate in an online workshop of protected area representatives and practitioners to review and adjust the draft social safeguard document.

The online workshop will be facilitated by Dr Michaela Pawliczek, and will take place on 11 November 2020:

English: Wednesday 11 November 2020: 9 am – 11 am CAT
French: Wednesday 11 November 2020:  2 pm – 4 pm CAT

To register for the workshop, please simply email before 2 November. The draft safeguard will be shared with those who are registered prior to the meeting for review.

We hope that you will be able to share your expertise with us, to ensure that the final document is as relevant, applicable, and useful as possible.

Dr. Anna Spenceley and Dr. Michaela Pawliczek

Tools and Resources for Nature-Based Tourism: New World Bank report available

Screenshot cover

This report is now available online here through the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository

The sections in the report address many of the key issues confronted during the preparation and implementation of an NBT project. I can see myself going back to it again and again for information on particular issues at hand,” said Tijen Arin, a senior environmental economist with the World Bank who co-leads an NBT project in Nepal.

World Bank feature “The journey back to recovery – Resources to develop tourism sustainably

Related link: Launch event & e-book

World Tourism Day: 16th Amity International Tourism & Hospitality Conference, 25-26 September (online + free)

Screenshot Amity 2

Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism (FHT)
16thAmity International Tourism & Hospitality Conference (AITHC 2020)


25th – 26th September 2020



Registration for Day 1 and Day 2

Day 1: 25 September,  8:30 am India Time (Mumbai, GMT+05:30) – registration link
Day 2: 26 September, 10:00 am India Time (Mumbai, GMT+05:30) – registration link


Amity agenda