RIYADH: The Sustainable Tourism Global Center has appointed eight international experts to lead the multi-country, multi-stakeholder coalition’s bid to reduce the industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi Green Initiative and the UN Climate Change conference, or COP26, in Glasgow last year, the STGC brings together governments, international organizations, academic bodies, financing institutions and industry associations.
The STGC aims to reduce the tourism sector’s estimated 8 percent contribution to total global greenhouse gases and move toward net-zero emissions.
The eight newly appointed experts were recently welcomed in Riyadh and pledged their commitment to the center’s work globally. They will be based in Europe, Asia and the Americas as ambassadors for the STGC through their work with governments, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.
The center’s envoys are Ambassador Dho Young-shim, co-chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ Advocates Alumni; Harry Theoharis, former Greek tourism minister; Isabel Hill, former director of the US’s National Travel and Tourism Office; and Prof. Geoffrey Lipman, former World Travel and Tourism Council president, International Air Transport Association executive director and UN World Tourism Organization assistant secretary-general.
The others are Dr. Christoph Wolff, former head of mobility for the World Economic Forum; Dr. Mario Hardy, former chief executive officer of the Pacific Asia Travel Association; Prof. Donald Hawkins, professor emeritus of management, tourism studies and international affairs at George Washington University; and Dr. Adolfo Favieres, the former owner of Occidental Hotels.
This announcement builds on the STGC’s global engagement initiatives, with the coalition receiving positive support in phase one from various countries. The UK, US, France, Japan, Germany, Kenya, Jamaica, Morocco, Spain, and Saudi Arabia were all invited as founding countries because they have prioritized tourism’s impact on the climate.
The top organizations helping to shape the center and provide the services in phase one are the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Environment Program, International Chamber of Commerce, World Travel and Tourism Council, World Bank, SYSTEMIQ and World Resource Institute.
In addition to Harvard University, which will provide support to the STGC through research and capacity building, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will guide the center to accelerate industry action on climate neutrality.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “Saudi Arabia is taking clear and decisive action to ensure that the tourism sector, including the 330 million livelihoods depending on it, are protected into the future.
“Core to this is solving the problem of climate change — which requires strong collaboration with businesses, governments, and international organizations to accelerate action. I am pleased to welcome the STGC envoys into the Kingdom, and look forward to their contribution to driving the tourism sector’s transition to net-zero.”