The recent World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit held in Cancun, Mexico made it clear that we are not going back to 2019, we are moving forward.
The theme – Uniting the World for Recovery – rally for a united front to turn the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity, to redouble our efforts, to remove barriers to mobility and to drive change so that we can continue to travel, explore and share experiences face-to-face.
Leaders highlighted what is key to recovery – sustainability, the importance of being able to quickly recognise an impending crisis, establishing liquidity for their businesses and learning technology to innovate and manage a business and staff. Speakers shared their reflections and learnings on travel, traveller experience, sustainability, sustainable tourism and societal responsibility in the last year.
These discussions, reflections and learnings echo itmustbeNOW.com messages since we launched in 2017. Difficult times call for difficult questions, uncomfortable conversations and accountable actions to deliver what conscious travellers want today.
The travel and tourism sector is noticeably lagging behind other industries on ‘walking the sustainability talk’ and many are overwhelmed. Committing to an accredited sustainability programme with independent audits, reducing and mitigating their carbon footprint and elevating their communication with accountability and transparency to all stakeholders to rebuild the trust IS overwhelming AND vital to build resilience.
Jonathon Porrit, the author of Is There Hope in Hell? and co-founder of Forum to the Future share the Future of Sustainability Report 2020 – From System Shock to System Change – Time to Transform. It reveals four distinct mindsets within our control that emerged from the COVID-19 crisis: Transform, Unsettled, Compete and Retreat, and Discipline. The report noted that firmly setting mindsets on Transform and working together to drive long-lasting systemic change is the radical action we need to deliver the just transition urgently needed if we are to avert the worst of the social, climate and biodiversity crises we all face.
Jonathan pointed out, “On the one hand, we have the science that tells us that everything is getting worse everywhere faster than anyone imagined possible according to an imminent scientist in IPPC. On the other hand, there is a solutions agenda that is getting more powerful and more significant in terms of providing solutions to the world’s worst problems today. In the middle sits the politicians who can narrow the gap between the science and the deployment available to us. The judgement call is what the politicians will do. It is difficult to move these systems unless there is a shock to the system. Governments did not really understand what it takes to get to a carbon neutral environment. It is now possible to have a 100% renewable electricity world by 2030. We have to commit to more radical action including civil disobedience. There is so much that we can do.”
We also believe that we all hold the power to be future focused, to impact others and use it to create positive change, and to contribute to new narratives by shifting the mindsets of others. We need to invest in change to ensure that money, time and energy are directed to the right places. To future focus the hotel sector, we launched the NOW Force for Good Alliance in 2018 for hotels to provide solutions that boldly advance sustainability with serious accountability and transparency. The goal is to deliver on the Global Goals and reach Net Zero carbon emissions or better before one-way doors start to close.
The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperatures well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial times while pursuing means to limit the increase to 1.5°C (34.7°F), the absolute ‘red line in the sand’ when a series of one-way doors start to close. Carbon Brief’s analysis for the IPCC’s 2021-2022 Assessment Report revealed that our world will likely exceed 1.5°C (34.7°F) between 2026 and 2042 (central estimate 2030 and 2032). Events are occurring to amplify warming and 2026 is in less than 5 years.
It must be NOW!