The Best for Global Goals Reporting category in the African Responsible Tourism Awards

Since 2018, the African Responsible Tourism Awards has introduced the category for Best for Global Goals Reporting as a standard feature. Instead of being a separate category, entrants into all other categories are automatically entered this category. The category is awarded to a tourism organisation that leverages tourism to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and then transparently reports on the impacts.

This category was introduced for several reasons:

  • To create awareness of the SDGs as the global priorities for development
  • To create awareness of the importance of responsible tourism for development
  • To highlight the importance of transparent reporting to show progress made

We understood from the start that this question would be challenging to many entrants. Generally, there is low awareness and limited knowledge of the SDGs in the tourism industry. We expect that entrants to the awards would be more aware of the SDGs and its purpose, even if they are not familiar with the finer details of the individual SDGs, or how their actions towards responsible tourism aligns with them.

So far, we’ve been pleasantly surprised. There are indications that most entrants in the 2018 awards have researched the SDGs, and most have matched their actions with the relevant SDGs.

The shortcoming though, has been in reporting on the impacts of their actions. The results we expect is some data on their success in reducing negative impacts (for example water and waste) or increasing their positive impacts (for example local procurement, decent work, conservation). We suspect that some entrants don’t monitor their results at all. Shock! Horror! How else will they know if their actions are yielding positive results?

Resources for understanding tourism’s contribution to the SDGs

This question in the African Responsible Tourism Awards application form requires entrants to:

  • Identify the SDGs to which they contribute
  • Explain what they do to contribute to the SDGs
  • Report on their performance against the SDGs

We recommend that you refer to this guideThe Tourism Sector and the Sustainable Development Goals – Responsible Tourism, a Global Commitment. It is from the UNWTO and the United Nations Global Compact Network Spain.

tourism and sdgs guide

It summarises:

  • The SDGs and its purpose
  • The importance of tourism
  • The role of sustainable tourism for development
  • A description of each SDG and how a tourism business can contribute to them
  • Examples of actions the tourism sector can take to contribute to the SDGs – this can help entrants understand how what they are already doing links to the SDGs
  • Examples of best practice – these are structured similarly to the question in the awards application forms, so can give entrants an idea on how to complete their submission

What is missing in the guide is information about reporting against contributions to the SDGs. Entrants that already have a reporting framework are more likely to be able to do this as they have data available. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the wider travel and tourism sector need to get better at measuring, monitoring and reporting their sustainability impact. We agree, and strongly encourage entrants who can’t report on their sustainability performance begin monitoring their impact.

How this category will be judged

The Best for Global Goals category is looking for examples of good practice where tourism organisations or destinations work to make better places for people to live in, and then publish the outcomes to demonstrate what can be achieved.

We realise that smaller companies will have smaller impacts but feel strongly that smaller businesses and organisations are no less worthy of an award. Instead the awards are looking for:

  • effective approaches to reporting the impact of sustainability efforts
  • effective approaches to communicating the impact of sustainability efforts to consumers, local people and governments

African examples of Global Goals reporting

Wilderness Safaris was the winner of the Best for Global Goals category in the 2018 African Responsible Tourism Awards. You can read about the reason for their win here.

The 2017 World Responsible Tourism Awards awarded tourism organisations for their performance against the SDGs. There were several winners from Africa and you can read about them here.

Find out more about Tourism and the SDGs

To learn more about tourism and the SDGs and keep abreast of global developments, you can visit the Tourism for SDGs website from the UNWTO.