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Remarks by Khalid Malik at 2nd PECC Eco-tourism Forum


添加时间:2007年1月24日 发布人:tccwang 来源: 点击数:4688 回复数:0 推荐阅读 加入收藏

Remarks by Khalid Malik,

Head of the UN System in China and Resident Representative of UNDP

At 2nd PECC Eco-tourism Forum

                                                       Eco-tourism and Ethnic Culture Heritage Protection

 

                                                                                          Abstract

 

In September 2000, 189 heads of state ratified the Millennium Declaration giving unprecedented global commitment to halving world poverty by 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals focused on reducing poverty, improving the quality of people’s lives, ensuring environmental sustainability, combating HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equality and building partnerships.

 

At the MDG Conference held in March 2004 in Beijing, the Chinese leadership reaffirmed China’s commitment to these goals. The attainment of the MDGs is integrated with China’s over-arching objective of striving to build a well-off Xiaokang society by the year 2020. China is leading the way in these efforts, as it will likely achieve the MDGs by 2015. However China still faces 3 major challenges in the areas of HIV/AIDS, gender equality, and the environment.

 

Environment protection enjoys strong backing from the political leadership in China. After the Rio conference, China was the first country to publish a national Agenda 21 and has highlighted a sustainable development strategy in its Tenth Five-Year Plan. The government and the people are trying hard to tackle the environmental challenges, becoming more aware how the environmental problems constrain economic growth and social development. Changes in China’s ecological environment and the living standards of its 1.3 billion citizens will have significant repercussions on the country and the rest of the world.

 

Despite the firm commitment by the Chinese government, environmental sustainability remains as a key challenge. The promise of growth and development lies against a backdrop of persistent environmental degradation, which restrains China’s long-term economic and social development. Environmental degradation has now become so acute that it is one of the main factors forcing future multi-faceted change. Indeed, environmental factors are likely to constrain, or even reverse, social and economic progress.

 

By any definition, China is one of the most biodiversity countries in the world. Its natural and cultural wonders attract visitors from near and afar. However, the negative impacts of large-scale tourism are starting to show. Often, there are not adequate facilities and infrastructure to provide services to the visitors and quiet sites of beauty are turned into entertainment centers. Too often, local communities do not benefit from tourism ---- in fact, on balance quite the opposite occurs.

 

Today, tourism is often described as the world’s “biggest” industry on the basis of its contribution to global gross domestic product, the number of jobs it generates, and the number of clients it serves. It has a broad economic, social and environmental footprint reaching almost every part of the Earth. The size of the industry and its rate of growth present both opportunities and threat for biodiversity and the environment. While recognized as a major sector, tourism can place the environment under heavy stress, as key players do not fully take into account environmental and social impacts.

 

Today, China receives over 30 million visitors and this figure will increase to 100 million by 2020. And this represents major challenges to the sustainable development. The current situation in China with regard to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is the result of decades of massive pressure on environmental values as priority has been given to economic development. Some recent attention paid to ecological issues and biodiversity conservation has reduced the rate of decline, but the trend has not yet been reversed.

 

It is well-known fact that tourism can be a deadly foe as much as a firm friend. Adopting sustainable tourism practices is increasing promoted as an important strategy for achieving benefits in economic, social and environmental dimensions of national development.  Encotourism which is an important category of sustainable tourism, has been recommended as an effective vehicle for sustainable development.

 

Policy and planning. Ecotourism cannot exist and grow in a vacuum, it has to be integrated into sustainable development plans, land use and especially plans for natural protected areas. Although governments will take a leading role, local communities have to be involved in policy development and planning ----as they are the guardians of natural assets, they should retain responsibility for those assets. Local people must be involved in all decisions to open up an area to ecotourism. Proper planning and management is needed, to avoid threatening the biological diversity upon which ecotourism depends. Planning should always take account of the future sustainability of the project-only initiatives which will flourish after donor-funding dries up, should be developed. There is need to balance the demand of the tourists, the need and concerns of the local community and the environment with the interests of the tourism industry.

 

In ecotourism, the role locally owned micro-, small-and medium enterprises is essential. We need to find ways to build their capacity to survive, and maintain their social and environmental standards, thereby increasing the economic benefits to local communities, and helping to address poverty. Local communities should be alerted to the value of their natural environment and their culture-preservation of the asset is vital retaining the interest of tourist.

 

As many of the areas which have potential for ecotourism are underdeveloped and poor, ongong research and monitoring is needed, not only from academia, but from all stakeholders. Lessons learned and experienced must be shared, especially with regard to projects that result in improved services for local people (roads, communications, sanitation, poverty alleviation, employment opportunities including for women and young people).

 

The environment is the major asset of the developing world. The poor have little else, it must be preserved and used responsibly and ecotourism can play a role in ensuring the preservation and use of natural assets.

Providing a new anchor and entry point for approaching the issue of sustainability from the viewpoint of culture diversity is the universal declaration on culture diversity which is predicted on the consideration of culture as a full-fledged resource for development. The principle of culture diversity presupposes culture to be both a record of traditions and histories and a process of exchanges and innovations. The principle recognizes the dynamic quality of people’s daily cultural practice and does not aim to preserve a static set of behaviors, values and expression.

 

Creativity in policy is vital for realizing socially and culturally sustainable development. We must recognize the importance of tangible and intangible culture in people’s individual and collective identities, and take steps to understand and preserve this valuable heritage. Culture is also a rich source of knowledge and inspiration and is thus a powerful instrument for development. Preserving cultural diversity should therefore be both a means and an end goal in development.

 

Tourism can be harnessed as a significant force for the alleviation of poverty, as well as for the protection of the environment and traditional cultures, giving economic value to natural and culture heritage, creating employment and generating foreign exchange earnings. The involvement of the private sector with the leadership of government and in partnership with civil society, in this instance the Guangcai program with the cooperation of the entire United Nations system is yet another that China is setting in the spirit of the powerful platform offered by the United Nations through the Global Compact as business strives to fulfill its appropriate role in the efforts toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals and contributing to the achievement of “Xiaokang”.

 

Tourism can create further opportunities for many small entrepreneurs in an industry in which start-up costs and barriers to entry are generally low or can easily be lowered. Small entrepreneurs provide many other tourism services, especially in developing countries. The development of a micro credit system for tourism SMEs both for venture capital and operating costs could be one of the missing links to allow tourism to bring more prosperity in many regions worldwide, principally in the poorest. The synergy between the sustainable development of tourism and poverty alleviation in the country is crucial.

 

The UN system in China stands ready to assist China in preparing its policies while reconsidering the relationship between tourism and culture diversity, tourism and intercultural dialogues, and the tourism and development contributing to the fight against poverty, protection of the environment and multi appreciation of culture.

 

Let us recall the hope that Kofi Annan expressed in Johannesburg that we will see all shareholders come together in a new coalition, “A coalition for responsible prosperity, a coalition to fight poverty and change unsustainable consumption patterns.”

 

I believe that the partnership forged here today at this conference, and the outcome of our deliberations, will create a solid foundation for building up Ecotourism in the future.

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