United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)


HQ: Madrid, Spain

Focal Point: Philippe Lemaistre



Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions


Key Figures: Waste


Secretary-General's Message


“UNWTO is fully committed towards reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint. Since 2015, the Organization has reached climate-neutrality. At the same time, it is important to recall that tourism is both a vector and a victim of climate change. 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 these actions contribute to enhancing the positive impact tourism has on socio-economic development around the world."

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO




The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism..

UNWTO has a twofold mission:

  1. to provide leadership to the entire tourism sector, serving as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism knowledge, and
  2. to support its members in their efforts to develop tourism as a tool for competitiveness and sustainable development, contributing to all SDGs.

Experience so far


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


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 has gradually been replaced by energy-efficient devices.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 were purchased in 2016 through UNOPS in order to cover the 3-year period 2015-2017. CERs correspond to a Wind Power Project in India.


Other environmental measures


UNWTO is using the UNEP waste management methodology. Reports were done for the years 2015 and 2016.

UNWTO is also using the UNEP water management methodology. Reports were done for the year 2016.


Next steps


UNWTO has a very clear position on the importance of combating negative impacts of climate change and adapting to them.

The Organization will pursue its efforts to reduce its own emissions by raising awareness among its staff, encouraging more efficient travel, investing in energy-efficient material, etc.


UNWTO and sustainability