About the UNWTO/Chimelong Initiative

Wildlife is not only an essential element of the world heritage but also a major asset for many countries, particularly for those where tourism constitutes a priority and a major component of their GDP. Illegal trafficking, poaching and lack of knowledge about the potential of wildlife have been some of the factors that have put this unique animal and vegetal richness at risk.

                                                                  

The traditional concerns of the World Tourism Organization on protection and conservation of wildlife are well-known. Research work such as ‘The value of Wildlife Tourism in Africa’ (UNWTO, 2014) have portrayed the potential of tourism as catalyst to increase awareness, to promote conservation and protection policies and to engage multiple stakeholders in this global cause.

The commitment of the World Tourism Organization upon this theme has been reinforced by the adoption in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The initiative, to be led by the World Tourism Organization, has been articulated by a global campaign joined by governments, private sector recipients and civil society, aimed at raising awareness, at bringing partners of different nature and at building common action around the need to apply more sustainable and responsible practices into the tourism sector.

After the adoption of the International Year, the 1st Conference on Tourism for Development was held in Beijing, in close cooperation with the Goverrnment of the Republic of China and the Chinese National Tourism Administration. In the framework of that Conference, a partnership agreement between the Chimelong Group and the World Tourism Organization was signed in order to amplify the potential of tourism as a driver of wildlife protection and conservation.

The initiative is to be implemented between 2017 and 2019 and has as major focus on the African and the Asian and the Pacific continents as wildlife acquires a global dimension in these parts of the world. The initiative includes approaches such as capacity building, media engagement, research and talent development and addresses multiple stakeholders like governments, tourism administrations, media, civil society and private sector.