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UNWTO and Oxford SDG Impact Lab partner around better tourism governance

UNWTO joins forces with Oxford SDG Impact Lab, with the generous support of easyJet holidays, to develop the firstUNWTO environmental, social and governance – ESG – Framework for Tourism Businesses.

Public, private and academic sectors unite

In line with Sustainable Development Goal 17 on partnerships for development, the ESG Framework for Tourism Businesses project brings together leading businesses and top scholars with the multilateral system to co-design a measurement tool that is meaningful and feasible for improved monitoring how tourism businesses impact, and depend on, people, planet and prosperity. UNWTO and Oxford University will carry out a comprehensive mapping of current work, interview pioneering businesses in the accommodation and reservation services industries, and further research and development.

Based on this work, UNWTO plans to issue a first beta version of the ESG Tourism Framework for accommodation and reservation services, with a view to extending it into additional tourism industries over 2024 and launch the finalized, agreed version for global uptake.

UNWTO Executive Director, Zoritsa Urosevic, said “By drawing on the power of international consensus – based on the forthcoming UN Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism (MST) – the ESG Framework for Tourism Businesses will provide a comparable and relevant set of indicators for tourism industries. It will empower private and public sectors with more robust data to shape innovative policies, transform business models and promote better tourism governance”.

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“The ESG Framework brings together the University of Oxford’s world class academic research with the international consensus-building ability and expertise of the UNWTO.  Ensuring that this strategic approach is matched with real-world testing and consultation with industry experts, such as easyJet holidays, this project is uniquely placed to bring about meaningful impact in the sustainable tourism sector,” said Professor Alexander Betts, University of Oxford’s Local and Global Engagement Officer

Matt Callaghan, easyJet holidays’ Director of Customer & Operations, said: “We have big ambitions when it comes to making sustainable holidays mainstream and we’re committed to playing our part in supporting better tourism governance. So, as the SDG Impact Lab’s founding partner we’re delighted to be supporting the Lab’s work with the UNWTO, to develop a first of its kind environmental, social and governance framework for sustainable tourism.

Actionable data for real impact

In tourism, as in other sectors, the challenge often lies not in a lack of data, but rather in the absence of common and harmonized approaches to organizing data, especially given the complexity of numerous existing initiatives. This hinders the ability to benchmark performance across businesses and to communicate progress of the sector with policy makers. It can even undermine stakeholder confidence.

By applying internationally recognized statistical approaches, this project aims to establish a fundamental level of consensus and alignment in business disclosures, enabling more consistent reporting that is comparable:

  • Between businesses within the tourism sector,
  • Between tourism businesses and those in other economic sectors, and
  • Between business level-data and public-level (national and subnational) data.

Moreover, the ESG Framework will demonstrate the potential of supplementing business–level data with national and global tourism statistics, for more holistic and cost-effective ESG disclosures that make the most of available information.

Developed under the umbrella of the UNWTO Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (SF-MST), applicable to countries and destinations worldwide to guide the production of reliable and comparable data of tourism’s economic, social and environmental aspects, the ESG Framework for Tourism businesses will bring the benefits of consensus and harmonization also to the private sector.

Tags: Oxford SDG Impact Lab, Tourism governance, UNWTO

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