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by Matt Alderton | September 28, 2015
The 193 member states of the United Nations have approved a historic new agenda for sustainable development in the decades ahead. Titled "Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," it includes 17 "Sustainable Development Goals," or SDGs, in five focus areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership.

"We have a big, bold agenda before us -- now we must work to make it real in people's lives everywhere," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (pictured) said at the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Summit, which took place Sept. 25-27 in New York. "It is a roadmap to ending global poverty, building a life of dignity for all, and leaving no one behind. It is also a clarion call to work in partnership and intensify efforts to share prosperity, empower people's livelihoods, ensure peace, and heal our planet for the benefit of this and future generations."

The global travel industry championed the U.N.'s agenda and has promised to be a partner in executing it.

"Travel and tourism is a sector … which will play a very significant role in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals," said World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO David Scowsill, speaking on behalf of the Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), a coalition of global travel associations. "Like the Sustainable Development Goals themselves, the travel and tourism sector is global and action-oriented. It consists of millions of companies -- from the smallest hostel to the largest airline -- which together forge an industry which encourages sustainable economic growth, creates jobs, promotes opportunities across society, and alleviates poverty."

Although GTAC has promised to support all of the SDGs, it pointed out that Goals 8, 12, and 14 specifically mention the role of tourism:

• Goal 8: Goal 8 -- to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all -- states that by 2030, countries should "devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products."

• Goal 12: Goal 12 -- to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns -- states that by 2030, countries should "develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs [and] promotes local culture and products."

• Goal 14: Goal 14 -- to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development -- states that by 2030, countries should "increase the economic benefits of [small island developing states] and [least developed countries] from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism."

"Travel and tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all of the goals," continued Scowsill, who also cited Goal 1 as an important opportunity. "In particular, as one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world, travel and tourism is well-positioned to foster economic growth and create jobs throughout the world to meet Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere."

GTAC represents eight travel industry associations, including Airports Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines Association International (CLIA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and WTTC.