More than 600 young people from 100 countries have been brought together by the Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC) to engage in solutions for reaching net zero in travel and tourism, as part of UFCCC MENA Climate Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Engaging with and listening to young people from around the world is a key focus of the new STGC, which is driving a faster approach to solving the issues of climate change and making travel and tourism more sustainable, especially among small and medium-sized businesses, travelers and destinations.
It’s estimated that 16% of the global population of 8billion people is aged between 15 and 24. The 600+ participants in this week’s gathering are some of the early adopters in the STGC’s Youth Champions Initiative which successfully last year brought together 400 students, from 80 countries. The aim is that, by 2030, this will become a community of 100,000 young people from more than 150 countries.
Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Arabia Minister of Tourism, said: “By providing young leaders with the necessary resources to support the net zero transition of the industry, we’re empowering them to play a crucial role in building a more sustainable travel and tourism sector. The Sustainable Tourism Global Center, incubated in Saudi Arabia, is not just an investment in their future; it’s an investment in the future of our planet.”
During the UNFCCC MENA Climate Week, organised by the Ministry of Energy, the young leaders will join together for sessions on sustainability. The discussions will address the challenges and opportunities facing the industry as it strives to transition to a net zero future, as well as protecting the wider environment, and the role that the younger generation will play in that conversation.
As the initiative progresses, and the STGC partners with more universities and organizations from around the world, the young leaders will receive unprecedented access to cutting edge best practice solutions and case studies, support in advocacy, and training programs related to sustainable tourism.
Youth involvement and empowerment is a key part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s transformation strategy. Gloria Guevara, Chief Special Adviser of the Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia said: “We’re pleased to see so many young people at this successful MENA Climate Week, held for the first time in Riyadh. His Excellency’s vision of ensuring the youth are at the heart of finding solutions is to be welcome. Today’s youth want to be actively engaged in their local communities and be a part of change for the better and it is vital that we listen to and act on their opinions. Their role is crucial to make the tourism and travel industry part of the solution towards net zero.”
Recognizing the immense potential of youth to aid in this transition, the STGC aims to engage these future leaders in-depth, so as to help build a more sustainable and inclusive travel and tourism industry. Through this initiative, participants will gain the knowledge, tools, and support necessary to utilize research for advocacy and awareness-building efforts.
Also unveiled during MENA Climate Week was the new Global Solutions Hub, which will provide solutions to micro, small and medium-sized business (MSMEs), as well as travelers and destinations, to help them move faster at making their own changes in order to become more sustainable.