Since the birth of the Republic of Mauritius 50 years ago – the world has moved on a journey of sustainable development. From the Club of Rome to the 2015 paradigm Sustainability and Climate Summits
Much was framed by Maurice Strong – friend and mentor for whom SUNx is a living legacy. He passionately saw the potential of Travel as a sustainability change agent. And as you can see – we certainly have the potential – over the past half century, we have grown from millions to billions: from props to jets; and from paper to the threshold of the digital era. It’s not just the numbers it’s the broader impacts on society – on trade: development: infrastructure and human relations.
We are woven into the fabric of humanity. Mobility is in our DNA. And if you look at small island and developing states the gdp, trade and jobs impacts are twice the global average. BUT of course there is the elephant in the room. Our global carbon footprint is significant and growing. Particularly the aviation footprint – on which you are so dependant. Yet where you pollute way below the norm.
It threatens civilisation as we know it. Sea level rises and massive storm surges. Fiercer Hurricanes, longer droughts, More intense forest fires. And with it, starvation, poverty, disease, conflict and migration.
If we don’t fix it your grandkids get to freeze or Fry. And as Naomi Klein said “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. The SDG and Paris Accords are humanities lifeline strategy for dealing with this. With a measured, nationally based, but globally coordinated structure, gradually intensifying to achieve 1.5 degrees by 2050. Travel & Tourism is way behind the curve. So many of our core products/attributes are in the front line – transport (particularly aviation), coastal facilities, infrastructure for example will need radical transformation and support. Especially in Small Islands. As Maurice Strong said we must step up our game and walk the walk …not just talk the talk. We are not yet going far enough, fast enough . We must embrace the green, the blue, the circular, the sharing and the sufficiency economies. Not just study these new lifestyles. We must embrace them. We will need to adapt our institutions to be more visionary, nimble and inclusive. If the sector is to be in the mainstream – let alone lead. And we must transform our education systems – because it is the next generation who will be in the front lines of the war on Climate change. And our tourism education is rooted in a 20th century second class sector mindset.
Climate is changing the triple bottom line. And it will change the nature of travel. We need to focus on Impact-Travel ~ measured to manage: green to grow: 2050 proof to innovate. That means putting Tourism and Environment Accounting together. We need a single balance sheet. It means low carbon, renewable energy focused, socially inclusive, resource efficient, cloud connected and biodiversity conserving travel. AND ABOVE ALL it means sticking to the Paris Targets. We have a common planetary Enemy in Existential Climate Change. AND in Donald Trump who has chosen the dark side in the war on our kids. It means embracing the 4th industrial Revolution where digitalization, big data, the internet of things and artificial intelligence will be the new norm. TECHNOLOGY for Innovation, BLOCKCHAIN for trust and DIGITALISATION to communicate will be the major factors in our success or failure.
Digitalization is a common language for the 4th industrial revolution. And our sector has so many moving parts in our product and business models. Parts that need to communicate for decent seamless journeys. Look at this graphic from WTTC …it is said each journey has more than 50 trusted transactions. And there are billions of travellers who are the common focal point. We need to communicate in this emerging world of constant technology innovation – which we need to win the climate war. So we must learn to thrive in the digitalized world. It will provide the means to change our transport systems, To make our buildings energy efficient and weather resistant, it will help enhance security through positive identification, It will simplify and enhance passage through borders, choke points and interchanges, it will make bookings and fulfilment easier, faster and safer, it will revolutionise marketing and promotion through virtual and augmented reality. And it will rationalise and strengthen payment systems and investment flows. In short it will be the transformation we need to survive and win the Climate war.
SUNx exists to help this transformation – to fulfil the sustainable development vision of Maurice Strong. We are pushing for a cloud connected global, Climate Resilience Network supporting Impact Travel locally. Pop- Up community focused, learning and innovation centre. Curated by a cadre of smart bright graduate Climate Champions – sponsored by private sector scholarships. We will deliver “on line” life-term learning programs – including university Impact-Travel courses and Dodo themed cartoons for kids. We are bringing back the Dodo. We are part of a group building TraNexus a blockchain for Impact-Travel – with its own digital currency for travellers. And I’m delighted to announce here that we are partnering with the Vanilla Islands Association and Lux to bring these to this region soonest. To complement the Centre we will launch in Seychelles.
Small island states and poorer countries are first in the line of climate fire. It is fitting that Mauritius has the vision to bring us together at the time of your 50th Anniversary as a sovereign state. We need to act now and act out of the box. To build on the great tourism success story, to help the world make it for the next 50.
I leave you with two messages. First. I have last week been at a conference of scientists led by Laurent Fabius and Jeff Sachs – two of the framers of the Paris Accord. The conclusion . Climate Change is worse than we imagined based on the science. We are heading for 3 degrees plus. But the technology to respond and the grass roots commitment is better than we imagined. Second The Club of Rome who started all of this 50 years ago has a new Report called Come On. A rallying message for the 21st century challenges. It says if we pull together and use the new technology we can make it…but …Business as usual is not enough: moderate change is not enough: only total transformation is enough. To recall the slogan from the first Earth Day in 1970. “We have caught sight of the enemy. And he is Us”. COME ON – WE CAN MAKE IT TOGETHER.