United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)


HQ: Madrid, Spain

Focal Point: Philippe Lemaistre



Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions


Key Figures: Waste


Key Figures: Water


Secretary-General's Message


UNWTO is fully committed towards reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint. The Organization reached climate-neutrality in 2015 and has stayed there ever since. At the same time, it is important to recall that like any sector and almost any human activity, tourism has an impact on energy use. But as the world’s third-largest export category, tourism has great responsibility and potential for positive change.

"The UNWTO Secretariat will continue to work with its Members, and the sector at large, to place tourism as a leader in fighting climate change, while ensuring that our actions enhance the positive impact tourism has on socio-economic development around the world."

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO



Tourism creates opportunities, empowers communities and improves livelihoods. Tourism is part of the economic value chain, from infrastructure and communication to food production and transport. Tourism goes far beyond tourism alone! Delivering on this huge potential is the task of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN’s specialized agency to promote tourism’s many benefits on societies and the economy.

UNWTO is establishing a comprehensive development vision for tourism: making it a policy priority, establishing thought leadership in knowledge and policy creation, and building meaningful partnerships to develop tourism as a tool for competitiveness and sustainable development.

Experience so far


Trends show a progressive reduction of UNWTO GHG emissions, notably regarding air travel.

EMS and Reduction efforts

  • Sustainability is listed among the principles of procurement as per UNWTO´s Procurement Manual.
  • Coordination of trips has been improved to avoid overlaps (e.g. one person is entrusted with all the activities in the same country at one time).
  • UNWTO Headquarters’ material (light-bulbs, computers, etc.) has gradually been replaced by energy-efficient devices. In parallel, the use of printers has been optimized through better distribution and their number has been reduced.
  • A videoconference facility has been installed.
  • An internal environmental awareness-raising circular has been produced and distributed, including recommendations on reducing electricity consumption in offices and trips.



UNWTO has been offsetting its emissions since 2015. Sufficient offsets (Gold standard) were purchased in 2019 through UNOPS in order to cover the coming years. CERs correspond to Wind Power Projects in India.

Waste Management


UNWTO is using the UNEP waste management methodology.

Water Management

UNWTO is using the UNEP water management methodology.  

Next steps


UNWTO, together with the International Transportation Forum (ITF) is working on an updated estimate, from a transport perspective, of the overall contribution of the tourism sector to GHG emissions, with actionable policy recommendations.


UNWTO and sustainability