Message by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai on the occasion of World Environment Day 2015

More than one billion tourists travel across international borders each year, many of whom are inspired to see our planet´s natural wonders – from majestic landscapes and pristine coastlines, to the rich biodiversity of our lands and our seas.

As one of tourism´s greatest assets, our natural heritage enlivens the global tourism sector, providing a source of livelihood and inclusive development for millions of people worldwide.

Yet our natural resources and biodiversity face unprecedented environmental challenges. Unrestrained consumption and production over the past decades have directly impacted our natural environment, placing fragile ecosystems, endangered species and natural habitats at risk, often times with irreversible consequences. Looming over all of these challenges is the global threat of climate change.

On the occasion of World Environment Day 2015, we are reminded of our immense responsibility to protect our environment in light of the choices we make.

One billion tourists are one billion opportunities for accelerating the shift. Though small actions may seem inconsequential, just imagine the widespread impact of one responsible action multiplied one billion times. One billion tourists can indeed become one billion global stewards – one united, global force protecting the future of our planet and all people.

Protecting our environment is a responsibility we all share. The more we travel the world, the more we become aware of our planet´s inexhaustible wonder, calling us to do our part in preserving our common heritage.

On World Environment Day, I would like to join the international community and invite all tourists to make their actions count while travelling. Together we can shoulder the great responsibility of consuming with care.


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It is the leading international organization in the field of tourism, which promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world. UNWTO’s membership includes 156 countries, 6 territories and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

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Marcelo Risi, Senior Media Officer
Tel: +34 91 567 81 60