ABU DHABI & HONOLULU, Hawaii, November 23, 2011 - The Honorable Maurice F. Strong, Senior Advisor to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit, has been named as the first recipient of the inaugural World Green Tourism Award in recognition of his pivotal role in shaping the global sustainable development agenda, and in recognizing the potential of travel and tourism to make a contribution to mainstream green growth transformation.
Strong will receive the award at the World Green Tourism conference and exhibition, taking place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from December 5-7, where he will be invited to deliver the valedictory address.
Among his many public and private sector appointments, Strong has served as Secretary General of the 1972 Stockholm Environment Conference, and as the First Head of the UN Environment Program. In 1992, he was Secretary General of the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations conference on environment and development.
During the Rio Conference, he proposed an “Agenda 21 for Travel & Tourism.” This became the basic framework for global programmes by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to start the development of a travel and tourism sector that was environmentally, socially, and culturally sustainable.
“I am delighted to receive this inaugural World Green Tourism Award, at such a critical time in mankind’s history,” said Strong, “We still have a small window of opportunity to make the fundamental ‘change of-course’ called for by leaders at the Earth Summit in 1992, to effectively manage our impact on our sustainability.
“The future of human life on Earth depends on what we do, or fail to do in this generation. It will require a degree of cooperation beyond anything we have yet experienced - all elements of the economy and society will have to respond in unprecedented ways. I have long believed that travel and tourism can and must be a leadership sector in this transformation. You are the people who are well positioned to undertake this while experiencing and protecting the wonders of our planet, as your business is linking nature, development, and humanity. You have a huge stake in and a special responsibility to lead our response to these challenges.”
Strong was selected by a distinguished panel of judges chaired by Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President of ICTP; along with Erica Harms, Global Sustainable Tourism Council; Laila Yousef Al Hassan, Manager of Communications and Marketing, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD); Vijay Poonoosamy, VP International & Public Affairs, Etihad Airways; and Hisham Zaazou, Senior Assistant Minister of Tourism Egypt.
“Throughout his distinguished career as a public servant and entrepreneur, Maurice Strong has consistently identified the travel and tourism industry as a key sector in sustainable development,” said Lipman, “He understands the fact that the environment is at the core of travel and tourism’s product, and thus it must be at the core of its strategy, policy, and action. He continues to do so, half a century on, and is an inspiration to all of us.”
Lipman added: “The World Green Tourism Award was launched this year to serve as an inspiration to the travel and tourism sector as it shifts to a green growth paradigm. Delivering the inaugural award at the World Green Tourism Conference in Abu Dhabi is a significant milestone, given that the event is the leading global focal point on sustainable travel and tourism. With the Durban Climate meeting underway and next year’s Rio + 20 in sight, the timing of the award is also highly relevant.”
Organized by Streamline Marketing Group, World Green Tourism, the first commercial conference and exhibition specifically for the sustainable tourism sector, is hosted by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi. It is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, ADTA’s Chairman.
PHOTO: The Honorable Maurice F. Strong