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The Sustainable Edit

Dispatch #1: The Conscious Citizen

What does it mean to be a conscious citizen? In her new monthly column, senior strategic leader in sustainable and international development Natasha Hafez explores and expounds on precisely that. Join in her journey towards humanity with purpose.

2020 hit us like a mega-tsunami. It started small, and shortly following it grew to an immeasurable, and oftentimes, intolerable surge of ongoing disruptions throughout every community and industry worldwide.

What was once known as the world’s fastest-growing economic sector, global tourism has a long road to recovery from the devastating effects and financial implications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic offers us not only an opportunity to hit the reset button – it provides reason to make sure the tourism sector innovates to become a sustainable engine for economic growth and development.  Such change may seem hard at first, despite the positives – elevated hygiene standards, less-crowded resorts, and more legroom on trains and airplanes due to the removal of middle-row seats (shout out to JetBlue this week). But added to the benefits of fewer travel crowds are a smaller carbon footprint, a reduction in deforestation, and perhaps the only means to ensure our natural resources are being consumed at a rate in which the earth is able to replenish them.

Throughout my career in international development, I have always been considered a ‘global development optimist’.  Even as such, I find myself sometimes worrying about the speed at which we can progress, especially in some of the most impoverished, yet most beautiful and biodiverse, places in the world.  In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) designed a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set with the intent to be met by the year 2030.  Tourism’s role in achieving these SDGs can be significantly strengthened once sustainable development becomes a shared responsibility and moves to the core of decision-making within the entire travel sector. Global tourism has been recognised as a vital contributor to job and wealth creation, economic growth, environmental protection, and poverty alleviation. Achievement of the SDGs requires all hands on deck, with effective and meaningful partnerships encompassing the entire travel and tourism industry, as well as media, international organisations, civil society, academia, and most importantly, you – our travellers and reader base.

What does the world mean to you? What do you value as an individual traveller and how can your values and choices leave a positive footprint on our global world and future?

It is a new year, and with a bit of 2020 hindsight (pun intended) 2021 brings a new wave. Before it becomes a destructive tsunami, I envision leveraging its momentum for a greater good.

In the coming months, I look forward to unveiling a wide range of new topics that I hope will spark important dialogue and stimulate a consciousness that will inspire, advocate, and transform our choices and actions. Fellow jet-setters and hodophiles, follow along with me and let me know what you want to hear more about as we journey towards humanity with purpose.

The Conscious Citizen

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