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UNWTO and MSC Foundation Look to Net-Zero Future on World Ocean Day

The tourism sector has the potential to create a ‘virtuous circle’ at destination level and so play a key role in maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems, a forum has said.

To mark the official naming of the ship MSC Euribia, MSC’s most energy-efficient to date, international leaders from the worlds of science, policymaking and business explored new paths to responsible consumption and production in tourism as a key strategy for transitioning to a regenerative, carbon-neutral and circular blue economy.

The expert panel discussion, organised by the MSC Foundation and UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to explore the subject of “Tourism Ocean Action for a Net Zero Future”, featured contributions from leaders from across the public and private sectors.

  • Opening the event were UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Ambassador Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, and UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic
  • Representing the private sector were tourism and travel professionals from the USA and Europe, including Pierfrancesco Vago, Chair of the MSC Foundation Executive Committee and Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group.
  • Also contributing were keynote speaker Mike Horn, world-renowned explorer, Amy Meek, Co-founder of Kids Against Plastic,Carl Gustaf Lundin, Senior Adviser at Mission Blue and an MSC Foundation Advisory Board Member, and Frédéric Degret, Chief Executive Officer of NOAH Regen and the UNWTO Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Ocean and Climate Action.

With coastal and maritime tourism accounting for at least 50% of global tourism, according to the Ocean Panel, and 40% of all related export value, the high-level discussions focused on the critical interplay of tourism and oceanic sustainability.

  • Strategies outlined for achieving this centred on investing in the protection and regeneration of blue carbon ecosystems and nature-based solutions that maximise their ability to draw down carbon, while simultaneously advancing the decarbonisation of tourism operations and enhancing the resilience of local communities.
  • Policymakers and business leaders shared insightful policies, strategies and solutions to accelerate tourism ocean action. These included the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, the Global Roadmap for Food Waste Reduction in Tourism, and the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, all building momentum towards a Blue COP 28.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Finding the right balance between tourism operations and the health of our planet has never been more important. Coastal and cruise tourism have a critical role to play in the global economy.

“At the same time, coastal and cruise tourism have a key role to play in the protection of our oceans. This is why the UNWTO is working with partners like MSC to advance Climate Action.”

Pierfrancesco Vago, Chair of the MSC Foundation Executive Committee and Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group said: “Our partnership with UNWTO, exemplified in the ‘Tourism Ocean Action for a Net Zero Future’ panel, is crucial in our shared vision for responsible tourism. MSC Euribia, our most energy efficient ship yet, symbolises this commitment. We are confident that we will exceed the International Maritime Organization’s 40% carbon intensity reduction goal before the 2030 deadline and are actively working towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

MSC Foundation Executive Director Daniela Picco added: “The path to sustainability can only be a journey travelled together in dialogue and concerted action. So, I would like to thank UNWTO for their valued partnership in making this event possible.”

Geoff Percival
Geoff Percival
Geoff has worked in business, news, consumer and travel journalism for more than 25 years; having worked for and contributed to the likes of The Irish Examiner, Business & Finance, Business Plus, The Sunday Times, The Irish News, Senior Times, and The Sunday Tribune.
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