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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

The concept of sustainable tourism is based on that of sustainable development. Sustainability is a concept that was born back in the early ‘70s, when man realized that economic growth must be accompanied by safeguards to preserve the environment for future generations. From this awareness, the question arises; ‘what is sustainable development?’ and the answer; ‘development that is able to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own’.

The first documents on sustainable development date back to the UN conference in Stockholm, June 16, 1972. 110 participants established first that man, civilizations, and nations had rights and responsibilities to the environment and the issue of extinction due to rampant western economic development. It emerged from the conference that; ‘man has fundamental rights to liberty, equality, and satisfactory living conditions. This in an environment that allows him to live with dignity and well-being. Man is also highly responsible for the protection and enhancement of the environment for future generations.

This is why policies that promote and perpetuate apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonialism, and other forms of oppression or foreign domination should be condemned and eliminated. ‘This awareness from man for the environment surrounding him grew and became more important. Some years later, in 1980, the first concept of sustainable development that emerged in the world conservation strategy was; ‘to meet the challenges of rapid globalization of the world, a coherent and coordinated environmental policy must go hand-in-hand with economic development and social commitment’. However, it would be from Gro Harlem Brundtland , President of the World Commission on Environmental Development(1987-present), on behalf of the UN, that an effective definition of sustainable development would eventually emerge. ‘Development that able to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own.’

Along with this first definition of sustainable development lies the concept of entering into a sort of pact between the land and peoples. I notion that would define the boundaries of co-existence. However, this idea was temporarily set aside to first clarify the concept of sustainability. So, in 1992, the world community was urged to come together again in Rio de Janeiro to face the need for a universal method of building sustainable development. The countries participating in the campaign for sustainable development recognized that environmental concerns must be addressed by the whole and that solutions must involve all nations. For this then, a real action plan was created regarding sustainable development called Agenda 21. This action plan was adopted by 178 governments around the world. Also amended in Rio on this occasion was the definition of development: ‘Sustainable development means an improvement in quality of life, without exceeding the carrying capacity of an ecosystems base’.

Two years later the idea of a pact between the land and the people was turned into a collaborative project between Maurice Strong(then Secretary of the Rio Earth Summit and founder of the Earth Council) and Mikhail Gorbachev(President of Green Cross International). This project was known as the Earth Charter and was a civil society initiative. A first draft was created and laid out in 1994 and in 1997 a commission was created to look into this document. The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental and ethical principles, adopted at the international level, whose aim is to build a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. The objectives of this document are, the transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable human development, ecological integrity, environmental protection, poverty reduction, equitable economic development, respect for human rights and democracy, and finally that peace must be both interdependent and indivisible. It provided a new integrated ethical framework to guide the transformation to sustainable future.

Various European conferences on sustainable cities were held in the following years. What is a sustainable city? It is a city which seeks to develop itself while also protecting a healthy environment for future generations. In what way is this accomplished? By applying models of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earths regenerative capacities. This topic was seen to correlate with human rights, welfare of the community, reduction of pollution resulting from urban activities(such as industry), poor disposal of waste, production of non-renewable energy, and private transport. Subsequently, the United Nations organized a meeting in Johannesburg(2002) with a concrete goal to meet these new challenges in favor of a development that combines economic, social, and environmental issues-thus ensuring fairness and prosperity for generations to come. The main topics were poverty, water, global sanitation and basic hygiene, energy globalization, environmental protection, sustainable production and consumption, and finally Africa and its black-holes.

These issues were discussed for a long time in order to formulate an effective action plan. Agenda 21was revised and expanded so that it was concrete and feasible action plan to all the countries of the world. According to the report on the implementation of Agenda 21 by the Secretary General of the United Nations, major improvements are required in the efficiency of resources, both in industrialized nations and developing countries. The proposals include;

  • Achieve, within the next two to three decades, an increase in efficiency of energy use and resources within the industrialized nations-four times that of current levels-and a potential increase tenfold in ‘efficient use of resources provided by the industrialized world nations over the long term’.

  • An increase in corporate responsibility to be achieved through initiatives such as the Global Compact(UN Global Compact) and the Global Initiative Presentation(Global Reporting Initiative), as well the use of tools such as; responsibility in environmental management and environmental reports.

  • Provide incentives to industry and public institutions in order to increase research and development in cleaner production technologies.

  • Promote sustainable consumption through government initiatives, including national ‘green’ tax reforms that encourage the conservation of resources and takes measure for the supply of ‘green’ materials.


Fifteen percent of today’s global population lives in high-income countries and accounts for 56% of total world consumption of resources, while 40% of the world’s population lives in low-income countries and accounts for only 11% of resource consumption. It has been proposed that if everyone on the plant consumed that same amount of resources as the 15% of the population living in high-income countries does-we would need 2.6 planets to meet everyone’s resource needs.

Having said that, new approaches have been developed to increase sustainable production and consumption. For example, many governments have used economic and regulatory incentives, such as environmental taxes, fines against pollution, tradable permits for pollution emissions and water use, equitable waste management plans, and voluntary codes of conduct. The use of ‘fee-free’ proposals guarantees compliance and enforcement. Many companies have also introduced cleaner production methods that are more energy efficient and environmentally sound-by design reducing pollution and other environmental impacts-as well as introducing environmentally friendly packaging and labeling.

The public has become more aware of their responsibilities and opportunities as consumers. In addition to the increasingly common practice of the three ‘Rs’-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-there is a willingness to pay more to buy organic products and be more environmentally friendly. Consumers often pay 50 to 100% more for products in which no chemicals and pesticides are used. As a result, during the ‘90s’, the US organic food industry recorded an annual growth exceeding 20%, with similar growth rates recorded in other industrialized nations. More recently, the European Council has defined a new strategy for sustainable development. This should be based upon Democracy, gender equality, solidarity, freedom, and equal opportunities for all. While at the same time, aiming to improve the quality of life at a global level for both present and future generations through the creation of sustainable communities that manage their resources effectively.

However, statistical analysis of consumption in recent years shows that since 1992 the world energy consumption has increased significantly(and is expected to continue to do so until 2020) to grow at a rate of 2 percent per year. From 1992 to 1999, global consumption of fossil fuels increased by 10 percent. The per capita use is higher in developed countries, where up to the equivalent of 6.4 tons of oil per year was consumed. This figure is ten times that of the consumption in a developing nation.

In the coming year, we will see analysis of the controversial topic called sustainability applied to the field of tourism. This has been especially true during the post-war era, the when this activity(which was only enjoyed by the privileged few) first began to be embraced by more segments of society.

Why the need for so much debate over the creation of a sustainable tourism model?

First of all, tourism is a very profitable business for the world economy. It constitutes about 10% of European GDP and employs 20 million people. A continuous development that if not controlled can be hostile to the environment. We often hear of association dedicated to protecting the environment. We also often see characters on television more or less listening to experts speaking of ‘global climate trend. Or, we may often read articles of essays about the environment. But, what are the practical solutions for those who are tourists? How can we safeguard the natural environment and local populations? Mainly there are three entities that cause damage through ‘tourism’, the state administration, the body that promotes tourism, and the tourist.

State government can make great progress through the implementation of sustainable tourism. We observe the Italian situation: Italy is one of the European countries where tourism is practiced most, and the Veneto region holds supremacy over the whole peninsula in this regard. Therefore, tourism in our area is very common, but why then are there so few institutions that promote sustainable tourism? Unfortunately there are no laws that compel tourist boards to instate the changes necessary for them to promote tourism activities that are sustainable.

This deficiency comes from the ‘upper levels’ of society and leads to an even great deficiency in the ‘lower levels’. In reality, without the help of the tourist to stress its importance, it is difficult for the state to securely implement a plan to promote sustainable tourism. The state should not only help because of incentives, but also because it invests funds for research to find solutions that allow the city, ourselves, and the environment to co-exist. In addition, these solutions are made law to ensure that everyone is on equal footing in the marketplace. The state is the entity from which this initiative should be started, and if authority must be imposed, it should be with the stated aim of ensuring fair competition.

How specifically can, an institution that deals with tourism, be an enemy to the environment?

  1. Through the production of waste-and high consumption levels of energy and water.

  2. Through deforestation-and the use of cement.

  3. By allowing noise pollution.

  4. By allowance of the destruction of our natural environment.

It is in these areas that the state should take initiative to seek applicable solutions. In recent years, man has sought practical solutions to solve these problems. Legambiente suggested standards to be met by those involved in tourism. Their aim was to create a network of tourist offices that care for the environment while continuing their tourist business.

In Italy, 365 tourist facilities-including hotels, campsites, bed and breakfasts, and cottages-joined the project and complied with Legambientes series of ecological rules in energy and water conservation, waste reduction, sustainable transportation, healthy food, local seasonal products, regional planning, promotion of cultural, and environmental heritage. An eco-friendly hotel can help us not to lose the god habits-even while on holiday. Eco-friendly hotels are located in 16 regions of Italy. Legambiente displays a full listing through their website.

The rules.

To be ‘eco’, tour operators must comply with these basic parameters;

  • Waste management. The hotels must be equipped for the collection(and as use as little as possible) of single-application jams and spreads packaging. The principle here is simple. Use of less single-dose equals less packaging which in turn equals less waste.

  • Water. Install structure technologies that avoid the dispersion of water. This includes; flow reducers in toilets, showers, and bidets. Whenever possible, Legambiente volunteers teach employees a few simple tricks to save water.

  • Energy. Use of energy-saving light bulbs(at least one for each room with a bathroom) and the application of easy low-consumption technologies-that do not dissipate heat- to a buildings insulating coat, as well as the use of triple glazed windows are all methods in which to reduce energy consumption. For more information, please contact www.agenziaclima.it

  • Food products. At the table, serve fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season as well as organic foods that are not genetically modified. These are typical products for eco-hotels which are considered ‘fast-tracked’ because these products eliminate a large amount of pollution produced by motor vehicles(mainly truck and aircraft) that transport modified food products around the world.

  • Public transport. Those who chose an eco-hotel are also willing to do without their car, at least as much as possible. Therefore, tour operators must promote public transport or other mass transit such as car-sharing, or provision of a car which pays based on usage. This phenomenon is already present in the cities of Rimini, Milan, Florence, Rome, Turin, Genoa, Bologna, Parma, Venice, and Modena. This method of car-hire is a popular method for reaching the seaside or other common tourist destinations.

  • Light-mobility. For shorter trips, the hotel provides free use of bicycles and mountain bikes.

  • Noise. Noises in hotels are often unwelcome. In the eco-hotels these noises are totally banned-they are believed to be damaging to local populations or animals that may be nearby. So a room in an eco-hotel comes with accompanied with ‘noise criteria’.

  • Culture and nature. Those who work in eco-hotels are themselves little ‘tour operators’. Customers are provided information on places to visit and characteristic events in the area to enjoy.

An eco-hotel must display the label of Legambiente, and a listing of these basic parameters, in plain sight.


The results. It is not easy to quantify the energy saved from over 300 facilities scattered throughout Italy. However, there are estimates available. According to a 2008 survey;

Flow reducers in the bathrooms have potentially saved 773,00 cubic meters of water.

Baths which are heated by electric boilers have saved 50,000 MWh of electricity.

Energy-saving light bulbs(at least one used in every room with a bathroom) have spared over 450,000 MWh.

Use of plastic or glass for service of jams or spreads, rather than single-dose applications, results in the reduction of waste by 8.5 tones.

By using your bike instead of a car, for short journeys, 757 tones of CO2 have NOT been emitted into our atmosphere.

There is a new examination of these areas each year. An ‘eco-label’ is only valid for one year at a time. So, during the course of each year, volunteers and technicians from Legambiente return to each location to check that all parameters are still being met. If the response is negative, the ‘eco-lable’ is revoked. Three to five percent of the eco-labels issued each year are revoked.

But more specifically, what can be done on the part of the tourist to safeguard the environment that they visit? The tourist must endeavor not to waste property in any form-thereby reducing the production of waste and consumption. For example, do not waste water. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and do not let the water run un-necessarily in your shower. To avoid wasting energy, do not continue to use electricity if you can make the switch to solar energy. Try using the washing machine for only FULL loads. Unplug the charger from the outlet after you have finished re-charging items like mobile phones. Do not leave un-needed lights on. The most common example of this is television sets.

Tourists can help the environment of the local population by trying not to cause excessive noise. The most important this you must not miss as a tourist is to be aware of yourself and your actions. Eco-tourists should be well informed about the characteristics of the environment they are going to visit and should respect that environment as much as possible. If the most powerful tool of the state is that power to impose a culture of sustainability on various agencies and bodies, then the most power tool of the tourist is undoubtedly that of being informed-thus allowing tourists to be more sustainable in the way they(as individuals) believe is right.


TOURISTS TO SUSTAINABLE FARMS

How can tourists help the sustainability of the farm?

First, a farm is actually very fragile. One of its primary purposes is to preserve the originality and uniqueness of the area where it is. To do this, the farms at Altaura and Monte Ceva produce traditional products from our land, and we raise animals that are also typical to our region. The cost competitiveness of traditional products in the low-cost, worldwide-production markets of today is often difficult. The products of the farm, while offering higher quality because they are healthy, often rank second to biologically modified products in the eyes of the consumer, due to their lower cost.

So, how to can you help preserve the farm-before it’s too late?

Tourists can help by making the farm known to their friends, family, acquaintances, or businesses that can buy farm products. This will not only help in the sustainability of the farm but will also assist in sustaining the farms very health.

When seeking to safeguard the environment that surrounds us, being aware of what to offer is important (especially when visiting a farm). Compliance with the rules of the farm help to make your visit a help, rather than a harm. The farm, as a fragile environment, cannot accommodate too great a number of people without risking damage to the ecosystem inside. So, the good visitor is a friend towards sustainable nature!


WHO WANTS TO BECOME A FRIEND OF NATURE?

Become a friend to Mother-nature, and spend a day in her company.

Workshop for children-a picnic in nature.

Purpose: to become a friend of nature!

Try to pass the five following games. Children will be divided into two teams and most work together to complete each game. The game must be completed for the children to receive a ‘pass’, and passes are assigned at the end of each game.


  1. First game; Walk Lightly!

Location; a section of graveled earth and grass

Materials; a slip of paper on which are written the words ‘when you want to see nature well, she will want to see you more’. Packages will be distributed (consisting of a single word from the above sentence) each team throughout the graveled earth surface. To pass this game, collect all the packets.

Procedure; the children from each team must collect each package containing the words to the sentence, while also collecting a single piece of gravel with their toes. The gravel piece is then dropped in a basket. All the packages contains the single words must be placed in the teams basket together in an attempt to form the above sentence.

Moral; the children learn that they should walk upon the grass with the same caution that they used while walking upon the gravel. If care is not taken when walking on the gravel-one may hurt their feet. If care is not taken while walking upon the grass-one may hurt the grass.

After the concluding moral is given, the children receive their passes to ‘friend of grass’

NOTE: the game may also be played with 4 teams, and the game may be moved around the farm to apply the lesson in various environments(such as an orchard)


  1. Second game; Watch-out for Weeds!

Location; where you will not disturb animals of plants(try a nice courtyard area)

Materials; signage to delineate a field of play, a sponge ball, one vase of paper-mache per/child.

Procedure; Team A will be positioned within the field of play while Team B will be positioned around the fields boundary. Team B now tries to take the ball from any member of Team A. Team A tries to escape (with the ball) from Team B in any way they can-while staying within the field of play. When a child is ‘taken’, that child must indicate this by marking their paper-mache vase. A child that is ‘taken’ only once may return to the field of play-though they must now continue to play on only one leg. If a child is taken twice, that child must exit the field of play and indicate that they are ‘de-rooted’ by turning their paper-mache vase on its side.

The game played to a specific length of time, and after the decided upon time expires, the teams will exchange roles and begin again for the same amount of time. The winning team is the team that has ‘taken’ more harmful weeds from the garden.

Moral; The children learn that the environment is a careful balance. If care is not taken, harm can come to the plants within the environment. Help can come in two forms; the one-time only help-which does not completely remove the problem, or the sustained help-that changes things for the better in the long term.

After the concluding moral is given, the children receive their passes to ‘watch-out for weeds’

NOTE: if 4 teams plays, rather than two, then pair the teams as they are placed upon the field.


  1. Third game; Just Noise!

Location; anywhere

Material; only the imagination

Procedure; Two teams will each select a player from their teams. The two players selected are sent away for a few minutes until it is explained to the rest of their team members that there is a treasure hidden somewhere that their selected player will not have to locate using their help. At this stage the selected players of both teams returns. Now the teams try and guide their selected palyers to the location of the hidden treasure without using sound of any kind. Members of both teams may take only one step at a time, and no additional steps may be taken until all team members have taken their one step only. The teammates of the selected players may not come any closer than 10 feet to the location of the hidden treasure. Each team must guide their selected player using any means other than noise to indicate the location of the hidden treasure to their selected players. The first team to find the location of the hidden treasure-without making noise-wins!

Moral; The children can attain success in the game without the need to create disturbance. The children will spend hours having fun-in silence-without even realizing that they are not making noise. This is in a similar theme to the message of the farm. We want to be able to live within nature (and enjoy it) without creating un-necessary disturbances to any animals, plants, or each other.


After the concluding moral is given, the children receive their passes to ‘just noise’


  1. Fourth game; And the Waste?

Location; a picnic table in nature

Material; Sandwiches, or other foodstuffs, and picnic supplies

Procedure; The children will be sat-as teams- around the picnic table. Everyone eats their sandwiches, or other picnic foods, together in peace and happiness. After the food is enjoyed, the game begins! Members of each team must try and throw their waste in a receptacle marked ‘recycling’. Points will be given for those throws which successfully the receptacle. The team with the most points wins.

Moral; The importance of not leaving waste behind us is just as important as seeing that waste properly disposed of.


After the concluding moral is given, the children receive their passes to ‘and the waste?’


  1. Fifth game; Here Comes the Dessert!

Location; the same location as the picnic

Material; seed bearing fruits and two containers

Procedure; the teams will have a certain amount of fruit available. They must collect the seeds from the fruit they eat. Teams compete to collect the most seeds. The team with the most seeds wins!

Moral; After all the seeds are collected, both teams bring their seeds to be combined together. When all the seeds from both teams are together-they are sown for the growth of new plants. The children see that everything that exists in nature has a purpose and nothing should be wasted.

After the concluding moral is given, the children receive their passes to ‘here comes the dessert’


At the end of the day, each games morals are reviewed and each child will received a Friend of Nature certificate!

So, start by visiting the farm! A great picnic begins with nature.


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IL FILO D’ERBA - AZIENDA AGRICOLA BIOECOLOGICA ALTAURA E MONTE CEVA
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