unwto_unesco sustainable marine environment, ocean issues, ocean protection, marine conservationUN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) forged a new cooperation agreement consolidating efforts on sustainable tourism and the protection of natural and cultural heritage. “Tourism can play a significant role in the preservation, conservation and promotion of cultural and natural assets and this agreement further strengthens our capacity to integrate sustainable tourism principles with the protection of the world´s heritage,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, co-signatory of the agreement.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, UNWTO and UNESCO will work together on national, regional and global initiatives in the areas of sustainable tourism and the safeguarding of natural and cultural heritage through:

• The implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Program

• The development of transnational tourism initiatives to promote and protect the shared heritage of the Silk Roads Heritage Corridors

• The identification, development and networking of sustainable tourism initiatives and activities in biosphere reserves

• The promotion of sustainable tourism through United Nations partnerships and initiatives, such as the United Nations Steering Committee on Tourism for Development (SCTD) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (GPST).

UNESCO´s Director General, Irina Bokova said “I look forward to furthering this partnership on the basis of shared values and common objectives” and expressed her gratitude for the reinforced cooperation between the two sister agencies.

UNWTO has already been working closely with UNESCO since 1979 to encourage a sustainable approach to heritage management and tourism.