(OECS) – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and The Travel Foundation have signaled their partnership by announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that seeks to implement collaborative sustainable tourism activities and initiatives including climate action in tourism. Coinciding with The Travel Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the two organisations announced their commitment to a future of sustainable tourism. On September 18, 2023, First Secretary to the OECS Mission to Brussels, Mr. Desmond Simon, was present to commemorate the collaboration at The Travel Foundation’s anniversary celebration in Brussels.
The OECS became a “supporting organization” signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism launched at COP26 on November 4, 2021. The Glasgow Declaration’s objective is to raise the climate ambition of tourism stakeholders and secure strong actions to support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as far as possible before 2050.
Desirous of fulfilling its obligations, the OECS identified The Travel Foundation as a key collaborator and entered into discussions on the development and implementation of an OECS Tourism Climate Action Plan, aligned to the Glasgow Declaration. Areas of cooperation will be focused on research and analysis, consultation, capacity building and advocacy.
The OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism at its Seventh Meeting held in Dominica in July 2022, mandated that the OECS align its efforts for tourism with the ministries/departments of environment which lead on climate action in most Member States. Member States that have not yet done so have been encouraged to prepare Tourism Sector Adaptation Plans.
In March 2023, the OECS convened a joint senior tourism and environment senior officials meeting to discuss the approach to climate action in tourism, which endorsed the partnership with The Travel Foundation. The immediate work to be undertaken in collaboration with The Travel Foundation is a needs assessment to consider national plans and determine gaps and support required to build out the Tourism Climate Action Plan.
Applauding the collaboration, OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules, said: “The OECS is one of the most tourism dependent regions in the world and the tourism sector is highly vulnerable to climate change. It is critical that the tourism sector is brought on board as a climate change agent. We welcome this new partnership with The Travel Foundation. It is timely but urgent, and with this partnership we can move forward with an OECS Tourism Climate Action Plan.”
Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation, noted, “We are hugely motivated by the vision behind this partnership and the opportunities it brings to create meaningful change and global leadership. It represents a significant step towards the implementation of solutions at scale that address the risks posed by climate change and increase the value that tourism brings to communities. We shall support the OECS and its members to put planning into action across the region, and demonstrate that tourism can, and must, adapt to become more resilient and equitable.”