Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025: tourism sustainability as a tool to achieve social and economic development

The Mediterranean strategy for sustainable development is a UNEP-MAP (United Nations Environment Programme - Mediterranean Action Plan Barcelona Convention) nine years plan aimed at investing in environmental sustainability to achieve social and economic development, something closely linked to the sustainable tourism sector and therefore to the MED Sustainable Tourism Community.

(Rome, 28 May 2019) “With respect to tourism, the Action Plan provides operational objectives addressing: practices and solutions for efficient use of natural resources and reducing the environmental impacts of tourism, respecting the carrying capacities of the destination; regulatory, legislative and financial measures to mainstream sustainable consumption and production in tourism to reduce tourism seasonality and promote local community engagement and empowerment; and, awareness, capacities and skills to support sustainable destinations and green tourism services, and marketing schemes for a competitive and sustainable Mediterranean tourism sector”: so are the aims of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2015 in relation to sustainable tourism.

This strategy was built on the postulate, as exemplified by the assessment on the implementation of the previous strategy, that the situation of sustainable tourism was worsening and more actions were to be implemented to trigger both the protection and the growth needed for this important business sector. The current strategy indeed highlights the potential of the tourism sector for economic opportunities, as this sector “dominates the economic development in the Mediterranean coastal regions”. Some issues are addressed by this strategy, and echo the ones developed by the MED Sustainable Tourism Community. For example, ensuring sustainable development in marine and coastal areas is an issue addressed by this strategy. Among other objectives, it aims at addressing the unrestricted tourism development leading to a lack of protection and management of the Mediterranean coastlines. The water allocation in the tourism sector as well as the involvement of the local producers to the tourism market and the development of rural tourism that will alleviate overcrowding in coastal cities and resorts, are also addressed by this strategy, taking into account different aspects such as the environment, the economic development and the local society.

The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 aims at involving a wide range of tourism stakeholders, ranging from national and local authorities to the private sector and local population. It includes a variety of plans including as much local actions as legally-binding strategies. This would hopefully contribute to the development of long-term governance mechanisms, that will in turn lead to a better coordination and monitoring of the tourism sector.

This strategy, combined with the work undergone by the MED Sustainable Tourism Community will, eventually, lead to a better understanding of the concept of “sustainable development”.

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