Green initiatives and eco-tourism seem to fit better with our idea of conserving and protecting the natural environment rather than our urban spaces. National institutions are often the ones charged with providing policies, platforms, agendas and legislation to steer our way through one of the most pressing challenges of our times. However, sustainability is much more than green initiatives.
Two critical factors challenge this approach. Firstly, the world is becoming urban very quickly. According to the United Nations, today 52% of the world lives in cities and by 2020 75% will do so. Secondly, city tourism has become the dominant factor in European tourism. Since 2002 the growth in bed-nights to cities has grown exponentially compared to bed-nights to countries which have matured.
According to a 2013 European Cities Marketing member survey, 89% of their city members consider sustainability to be a critical issue and 58% are working on specific sustainability projects. A further 48% consider sustainability to be a key part of their Unique Selling Proposition.
The conference will take place in Belfast from 26-28 February 2014.
Speaking about the meeting, ECM President Ignasi de Delàs said : “The real challenge that lies ahead is to put sustainability and the city very high up on the agenda. Cities have the ability to “turbo-charge” ideas and put real action in place on the ground very quickly working with their local stakeholders. Cities need to share strategies, knowledge and best-practice more rather than waiting for national strategies and policies in response to environmental and social challenges currently considered in the whole planet and the tourism sector in particular.”