Sustainability Week – Spotlight on Tourism & Transports

Apr 17, 2024 | News and Media

It’s Sustainability Week at the UN! What’s your pledge?

The President of the General Assembly, Mr. Dennis Francis has the honor to convene the first-ever Sustainability Week, at United Nations Headquarters in New York (April 15-19). Building on the momentum gained from the September 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit, this initiative focuses on the thematic pillars of transportation, infrastructure, tourism, energy as well as debt sustainability and aspires to draw valuable conclusions ahead of the September 2024 Summit of the Future.

Greece and its Permanent Mission to the United Nations participated in two High-level thematic events, one on Tourism and one on Transports, which took place on April 16 and 17 respectively. These events offered a platform to discuss strategies, share best practices and experiences to promote sustainable and resilient policies, which eventually will contribute to achieving SDGs.

With regard to transports, Greece was represented by the General Secretary of the Hellenic Ministry for Infrastructure & Transports, Mr. Ioannis Xifaras (50:22). The General Secretary described how the use of technology has helped the Greek international airports reduce the time aircrafts spend in the air waiting to be given the green light to land. This has reduced air traffic and thus the amount of carbon emissions on behalf of the aircrafts. Mr. Xifaras stressed that this has been achieved despite the fact that post-COVID tourist arrivals have increased significantly, something which should have led to a considerable increase also in terms of carbon emissions.

Sustainability is also crucial when it comes to another major driver of growth for Greece; tourism. This industry is particularly susceptible to fluctuations because, apart from being a job creator and entrepreneurship incubator, it also affects the social and cultural fabric of a country.

For Greece in particular, tourism contributes 18% of the country’s GDP, while employs more than 900,000 people, accounting for one fifth of the workforce. Sustainability in the industry of tourism is of paramount importance for Greece, not only because it is inextricably linked to its growth potential, but also because the country is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems globally. Every year, Greece welcomes three times its population in terms of foreign visitors coming to the country for tourism. This fact already puts a huge strain on local infrastructure, as well as on some of the Mediterranean’s most environmentally vulnerable locations.