cancun climate change conference cop 16

A common criticism of major international meetings on climate change is that countless tons of carbon emissions are created by everyone flying and driving in for these meetings.

I have never decided for myself if I think these meetings are worth it — if they will cut emissions more than they create them.

At the least, though, it is nice to see organizers and participants of the upcoming climate conference in Mexico trying to make sure they take advantage of this event to address important environmental issues of tourism and travel, as well as other environmental topics.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Cancun has teamed up with numerous other organizations and businesses to host a series of events on such topics before, at, and after the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP16) being held in Cancun from November 29th through December 10th, 2010.

“The fact that the most important climate summit in the world, is taking place in our destination, is an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of the effects that global warming is having on ecosystems, which are key to tourism and the state’s economy, such as coral reefs,” said Vicente Acosta, Director of WWF’s Sustainable Tourism.

“It’s also important to highlight the role that business play in promoting these initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment as well as promote their importance and strength of the partnerships between their sector and Civil Society Organizations.”

Four Projects in Cancun

Below, after a short introduction on those involved, are four key projects on climate change these organizations and businesses are working on that Cessie Cerrato of Newlink Communication shared with me on email — they look like useful projects and it’s nice to see people addressing them in Cancun, Mexico.

The Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Riviera Maya Tourism Board, the Cancun Hotel Association, two business groups committed to sustainability: OHL – Mayakoba (with hotels, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba Golf Course and The Chameleon) Experience Xcaret (which includes companies Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Xich), WWF, Universities and other partners, presented four projects on climate change that will take place before, during and after COP 16.

Tourism initiative for a Low-Carbon Quintana Roo. The above mentioned business groups, hotel associations and tourism boards, advised by WWF, the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI), the University of the Caribbean and the consulting firm Environmental Policy and Environmental Planning (GPPA) are working on methods that will enable hotels and businesses to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, reduction commitments and establish medium and long term reductions. They are also seeking options for tourists who visit the destination to be able to choose travel choices with less impact to the local atmosphere. The main goal of this initiative is to add more business partners in the coming years, and to become the main tool to promote action on climate change in the tourism sector.

Update Seminar on Climate Change and Tourism. This seminar will be held at the Fairmont Mayakoba on October 8th and will target hoteliers and business operators that are seeking to update relevant information on the issue as well as present a variety of success stories from similar companies. Morning lectures will be lead by national and international experts and in the afternoon we will develop a participatory workshop.

Exhibition Quintana Roo, air to land. Exhibition of aerial photography, land and underwater in large format on the ecosystems of Quintana Roo, co-organized with the Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Ecologic Center of Akumal and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, and pictures of Fabian Caballero and photographers of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) which will be mounted during the two weeks of COP16 in the Cancun Messe fairgrounds.

National Call for Competition Climate Change in Short. In collaboration with the Universidad Anahuac Cancun, this competition aims to give young people in private and public schools and universities in the country, the opportunity to showcase their vision of climate change. Registration is now open and closing date for receipt of materials is October 22.

Photo Credit: kaysha via flickr