On this day, September 27, we once again come to an environmentally important date - the World Tourism Day, being commemorated all across the world with relevant programmes targeting various sections of the society.
As the year 2012 has been declared as the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ by the UN, the UN World Tourism Organisation, which coordinates the World Tourism Day programmes across the globe, has selected the very relevant theme of ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy’ for 2012.
For a state like Kerala, with mo much scope of thermal and nuclear energy, and with much limitations in expanding the hydro power generation potential of the state, mainly attributed to environmental issues, the road ahead lies in stressing on energy conservation at all possible levels, increasing efficiency in energy production, transmission and distribution and also switching to renewable sources of energy.
In this context, it would be really fruitful to look at the concept of ‘One Planet Living and its 10 Principles’ which can be very much adopted by the tourism as well as other sectors also: (1) Zero Carbon - Achieve net zero CO2 emissions through implementing energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure, supply energy from on-site renewable sources, topped up by new off-site renewable supply where necessary.
(2) Zero Waste - Eliminate waste flows to landfills or for incineration through reducing waste generation through improved design, encourage reuse, recycling and composting, generate energy from waste cleanly, eliminate the concept of waste as part of a resource-efficient society.
(3) Sustainable Transport - Reduce reliance on private vehicles and achieve major reductions of CO2 emissions from transport by providing transport systems and infrastructure that reduce dependence on fossil fuels eg: shift to CNG.
(4) Local and Sustainable Materials - Transform materials supply to the point where it has a net positive impact on the environment and the local economy by wherever possible using locally available, reclaimed, renewable and recycled materials in construction and manufacture of products, which minimises transport emissions, spurs investment in local natural resource stocks and boosts the local economy.
(5) Local and Sustainable Food - Transform food supply to the point where it has a net positive impact on the environment, local economy and people’s well-being by supporting local and low-impact food production that provides healthy, quality food while boosting the local economy in an environmentally beneficial manner, showcase examples of low-impact packaging, processing and disposal and highlight benefit of a low-impact diet.
(6) Sustainable Water - Achieve a positive impact on local water resources and supply by implementing water use efficiency measures, reuse and recycling, minimise water extraction and pollution, foster sustainable water and sewage management in the landscape, restore natural water cycles.
(7) Natural Habitats and Wildlife - Regenerate degraded environments and halt biodiversity loss by protecting or regenerating existing natural environments and the habitats they provide to fauna and flora, create new habitats.
(8) Culture and Heritage - Protect and build on local cultural heritage and diversity by celebrating and reviving cultural heritage and the sense of local and regional identity, choose structures and systems that build on this heritage and foster a new culture of sustainability.
(9) Equity and Fair Trade - This is to ensure a positive impact and attitude in the community, both locally and globally, notably disadvantaged communities.
(10) Health and Happiness - Increase health and quality of life by promoting healthy lifestyles, physical, mental and spiritual well-being through well-designed structures and community engagement measures, as well as by delivering on social and environmental targets.
Renjan Mathew Varghese (State Director, WWF India)