UN Adopts a New Global Standard for Measuring Sustainability

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According to UN Tourism: “A groundbreaking statistical framework, developed under the leadership of UN Tourism, has been adopted by all 193 UN member states.” Therefore “The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) thus becomes the internationally agreed reference framework for measuring the economic, social and environmental aspects of tourism.”

The adoption by the UN Statistical Commission at its 55th session which took place from 27 February – 1 March 2024 marks “a historical milestone towards harnessing the full potential of the sector, providing a solution to the pressing need for a harmonized methodology to effectively assess the sustainability of tourism.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, UN Tourism Secretary General said: “Tourism is a powerful force for positive change when managed responsibly and sustainably. The adoption of the Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism marks a paradigm shift, going beyond GDP by enabling the measurement of what matters most to people and planet.”

UN Tourism says: “This achievement is the fruit of a seven-year UN process led by Austria and Spain as co-chairs of the UN Tourism Committee on Statistics, with Saudi Arabia and Seychelles as co-vice chairs.”  The work involved technical guidance from an Editorial Board chaired first by the Philippines and then by Canada, as well as extensive engagement and consultation with input from numerous pilots in countries.

Closing the gap between policy and statistics

In the margins of the United Nations Statistical Commission, Austria, Spain and UN Tourism co-organized the high-level side event “Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism: Closing the gap between policy and statistics”, in collaboration with the UN Committee for Economic-Environmental Accounting. Austria and Spain shared their vision on the importance of the Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism for evidence-based policy and decisions, while acknowledging its significance in upholding the relevance of statistical systems worldwide and the links to key topics like data governance and stewardship.

Mexico, the Philippines and Canada reflected on their pioneering experiences with implementing the framework, showcasing the power of integrating data from different domains and sources to distil more holistic and meaningful information on tourism.

UN Tourism said the event “raised awareness of the Statistical Framework for MST and functioned as an informative preamble to the UN Statistical Commission’s formal deliberations.”

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