Biodiversity and Tourism Network Project Overview

Introduction

The Biodiversity and Tourism Network (BTN) is an online exchange platform providing institutional and technical support to tourism practitioners in governments, NGOs and the private sector willing to implement sustainable tourism projects focused on biodiversity in general, and the Biodiversity and Tourism Development Guidelines in particular. The network is a joint initiative of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development (WTF), and was launched at Destinations2006, the Third Annual Summit of the WTF in Porto Alegre, Brazil between November 29 and December 2, 2006. The BTN is building upon the strong institutional cooperation between the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the WTF.

Target Audience

The BTN is targeted at tourism practitioners from government, NGO’s, institutions, indigenous and local communities, as well as private sector tourism managers. One of the goals of the network is to foster meaningful and actionable dialogue on best practices and lessons learned between multiple layers of practitioners, from national legislative bodies and planning agencies, to tourism managers on the ground. Over 50 leading projects, companies and government agencies already expressed an interest in joining the Network. The network is open to all tourism practitioners willing to apply the guidelines to their operations, and current founding members include the UNWTO's Consulting Unit for the rehabilitation of tsunami-affected countries (in Bonn), the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business through is Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative, the GEF project "Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity through Sound Tourism Development in Biosphere Reserves in Central and Eastern Europe", managed by Ecological Tourism in Europe, USAID's Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program through its Lam Dong tourism development plan in Vietnam and an indigenous tourism network managed in cooperation with the Universities of Carleton, Canada, and Montpellier, France.

Objectives

The main objective of the BTN is to disseminate experiences related to the implementation of the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development adopted in 2004 by the Conference of the Parties. In order to do so, the BTN has created a varied set of tools to facilitate the capture and sharing of knowledge across the broadest range of stakeholders involved in biodiversity and tourism management. The BTN website is an online knowledge market place and acts as a repository of information as well as meeting point for practitioners willing to adopt the Guidelines. The website is designed to enable the effective sharing of guidelines, best practices and case studies, as well to provide practical benchmarking tools for network members to confidentially monitor their efforts in regards to the integrated management of biodiversity and tourism.

The main objectives of the project are:

• To provide technical and institutional support for the implementation of the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development;

• To foster meaningful and actionable dialogue on best practices and lessons learned between multiple layers of practitioners, from national legislative bodies and planning agencies, to tourism practitioners on the ground;

• To enable members of the network to self assess and benchmark their implementation of the Guidelines as well as monitor their progress;

• To disseminate the content of the WTF case study collection.

Participation

Members are invited to participate in e-discussions and in the forum as well as provide case studies of their efforts protecting and conserving biodiversity in tourism projects. In order to maximize participation rates, members are only required to fill out a short 10 minute survey bi-yearly. This allows each member to participate as much as they can. The goal of the network is to have 50 members by the end of April 2007, and up to 150 by May 2008. Correspondingly, the participation rate will be measured by the quantity of members who have completed the self-assessment survey. Similarly, participation rates will be measured by activity in the forum section of the website as well as the moderated e-discussions.

Tools

The network has created a Biodiversity and Tourism Network website. The website, located at http://tourism.biodiv.org provides the following services to members:

• General Information on Biodiversity and Tourism
• Library/Documents
• e-Discussions/Forum
• Survey/Self-assessment
• Toolkits, Guidelines, User Manuals and Workshops reports
• Glossary and definitions of terms used in the Guidelines
• Case studies
• Newsletter
• Feedback/Suggestions
• Member Database
• Relevant Links
• Events Calendar

Self assessment survey

The Self assessment survey is designed to provide members a practical and actionable questionnaire to benchmark their level of implementation of the guidelines. The survey, in yes/no question format, focuses on all the major aspects of sustainable tourism practices with regards to biodiversity use and conservation. Three different surveys have been created to effectively tailor questions to governments, tourism managers and indigenous and local communities. The survey is password protected and only accessible to members of the network. Moreover, members are able to see their results and the results of their sector. Individual member results however, are not made public or available to other members for privacy reasons. Upon completion of the survey, members are able to benchmark their results against sector averages and are invited to consult the User’s Manual for information related to specific questions.

Moderated e-discussions

The Biodiversity and Tourism network will periodically host, through the website, a moderated e-discussion of important relevance to biodiversity and tourism. These will take place twice, the first in September 2007 and the second in February 2008 and last for 15 days. These e-discussions are designed to bridge an often physical divide between members and enable constructive discussions and debates. Members are invited to participate or suggest topics for future e-discussions. Following their completion, moderated discussions will be consolidated and summaries will be sent to all participants and members.

Case studies

Case studies represent an important resource for all network members. Although voluntary, member-generated case studies provide valuable and practical example on the challenges and solutions faced and overcome by fellow members. Case studies will be posted on the Biodiversity and Tourism Network website to share information with the public.

Workshop

The Biodiversity and Tourism network will hold a a global series of regional and sub-regional workshops aimed at capacity building of indigenous and local community in matters related to the Convention and in particular on the CBD guidelines on biodiversity and Tourism with the view to support and strengthen indigenous and local initiatives in this area.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme