This post was originally published by my friend Carlos Buj from Spain. He’s a tourism industry progressive and blogger at ‘Viaje a la Sostenibilidad’. I’ve translated this post from Spanish, so you can see the original post here: 10 verdades incómodas sobre el turismo sostenible y la sostenibilidad. Follow him on twitter @buenviajero. Thanks, Carlos, for the real insights and critiques.
I’ve been wanting to share this list of inconvenient truths for a while, known by many but expressed by very few. If you don’t agree with one of them, please explain why in the comments.
• FIRST Only the inhabitants of the planet with unsustainable lifestyles are worried about being more sustainable, while those who live in a more sustainable way are more and more interested in copying the unsustainable-consumerist model of the former. We still haven’t managed to link sustainability to a high standard of living on a large scale in practice, although it is perfectly possible.
• SECOND The offering of “green” products and services doesn’t necessarily entail an increase in demand, especially if good practices don’t affect the tourist experience in a direct and positive way. However, bad practices are expelled from the market.
• THIRD Irresponsibility can turn out to be more profitable, especially in the short term.
• FOURTH A large part of what self-proclaims to be eco, bio, sustainable, green, etc. does not correspond to reality, which has caused disdain and cynicism on the part of the consumer.
• FIFTH International flights are highly unsustainable, they generate a dependence on cheap oil that can’t last, and they contribute intensely to climate change.
• SIXTH Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), rather than modifying business models toward more responsible and sustainable ones, tends toward the washing of hands through small actions financed by a tiny portion of revenue. CSR has been successful in deactivating criticisms of business models and transmitting the idea that the private sector is doing something positive. If substantial change is what is needed in the tourism sector (or any other) it’s not enough to just let businesses self-regulate.
• SEVENTH The policies of governments and businesses don’t account for the long-term effects of their actions and are unable to offer a convincing solution to the increasingly pressing challenges that humanity faces. The economic system needs very substantial changes, not just the superficial changes we’ve seen so far.
• EIGHTH The vast majority of consumers don’t tend to purchase in an ethical way, especially if it doesn’t translate to some direct benefit for them.
• NINTH Sustainability will happen necessarily, in developed countries, through limiting the consumption of material goods substantially. Not having a car is sustainable; having an ecological car is not so much.
• TENTH Responsible consumerism for its own sake is insufficient to modify the problems with the economic market model.