The former Soviet Asian States present considerable opportunities to become a major tourist destination in the way of unique cultural, historical, archaeological, and natural attractions. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have strategically utilized tourism for driving economic growth. However, the sector faces a lot of problems and challenges. The most important are the lack of supply chain and logistics facilities, underdeveloped infrastructure and low standard services to the tourists. In some of the countries the visa regime and the high prices are also considered as inhibitory factors. Given that the tourism sector in these countries is still under-developed but with very high potential, the setting of a sustainable tourism model is very crucial. Sustainable tourism has the potential to support growing local economies, by respecting communities and protecting cultural and heritage sites from risks of overcrowding and from damage caused by natural disasters. Destinations that are becoming increasingly popular today, as is the case in Central Asia, have the opportunity to sustainably develop their tourism sectors and become role models for other countries around the world.
The project aims at promoting a new and well-structured model for sustainable tourism in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan that can contribute to preserving and strengthening local culture, heritage and traditions, while also protecting the natural environment. This will be achieved through the provision of a life cycle and supply chain management approach to sustainability interventions in tourism, covering issues that range from support for regional policies & planning, adoption of standards, introduction of value chain concepts, to the awareness of relevant stakeholders, highlighting in this way the multi-stakeholder nature of tourism sustainability and the great benefits that will arise through the engagement and cooperation of all stakeholders.
• 440 enterprises in the tourism sector
in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan
• 30 local and regional authorities
• 15 consumers associations
• 3 Tourism Associations
• Local communities
• Tourism MSMEs and professionals
• End users of tourism services and products
• Chambers of Commerce
• Business Intermediary Organizations (BIOs)
The specific objectives include:
• Supporting tourism companies mainly in Uzbekistan, but also in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan to adopt (SCP) practices by providing appropriate knowledge and ICT tools;
• Supporting regional and local authorities to plan and implement policies that assist the development of sustainable tourism;
• Raising awareness regarding sustainable tourism and consumer awareness about sustainable consumption;
• Strengthening the dialogue between authorities, SMEs and end users as concerns SCP.
At policy-institutional level the project works towards capacity building of local and regional authorities in policy planning and linking to investment and other support instruments. At the same time, the project strengthens the role of local and regional authorities regarding sustainable tourism, and promotes public and policy dialogue among key stakeholders and beneficiaries. At the end good/best practices are transferred at policy, regulatory and financial support level.
At business organisational – operational level, the project works towards Capacity building of specific target groups (tourism MSMEs); training focuses on increasing their knowledge and information about GSTC criteria for sustainable tourism, relevant standards and certification procedures, green procurement and transfer of best practices and tools for rendering their work in a more sustainable way. The project also involves equipping targeted MSMEs with standard/certification preparation software and of real monitoring of water, energy consumption as well as indoor comfort parameters. The target groups are also supported by the project through training on marketing issues, identification of financial sources for adaption of SPC practices, networking with investors and business angels.
At societal level, the project will embark on a set of raising awareness activities for users of tourist services on sustainable consumption in the area of water, waste, recycling and energy behaviour, and for stirring attention of the general population towards sustainable tourism.
• SDGs related to your action: SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
The action meets SDG No 12 as it aims at reducing resource use, degradation and pollution produced by the tourism industry and also focuses on operating on supply chain, involving everyone from producer to final consumer. This includes educating consumers on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing them with adequate information through standards and labels and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others.
• HOW DOES YOUR PROJECT RELATE TO EU PRIORITIES, EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL, AND TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE?
As the action aims at promoting a new and well-structured model for sustainable tourism in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan and is aligned to SDG 12, it relates to the European Green Deal, which is an integral part of EC’s strategy to
implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It especially relates to the priorities of Mobilising industry for a clean and circular economy; Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way; Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity; and A zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment.
The action will build the capacities of tourism MSMEs and associations on adapting EU Environmental standards (Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria for sustainable tourism, relevant standards as well as on green procurement); install standard/certification preparation software for identification of sustainable investments in the area of environmental management, customized for the tourism industry (incl. ISO 14000, ISO 14024 (eco-labelling)); install real time systems monitoring of water, energy consumption as well as indoor comfort parameters. Local authorities play a key role in the achievement of the EU’s energy and climate objectives. The Covenant of Mayors is a European initiative by which towns, cities and regions voluntarily commit to reducing their CO2 emissions beyond this 20% target. This formal commitment is to be achieved through the implementation of Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAPs). The EU has already developed guidebook on how the local authorities can reach the commitments they have taken by signing the Covenant. The same has been also done for the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP). The action will inform and educate public officials from local and regional authorities in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan on developing such plans. The action also aims at contributing to the change of attitudes in society towards the protection of the environment and sustainability.
From the above it is obvious that the action addresses EU environmental and climate action priorities, (reducing gas emissions, boosting energy efficiency, renewable energy and governance of energy and climate policies, building more sustainable cities, more climate-resilient communities, promoting low-carbon technologies, protecting the ozone layer etc.).
With nearly EUR 280 million in funding since its launch in 2007, SWITCH-Asia is the largest SCP programme supported by the European Union. It consists of three components: the CP Facility, implemented by a consortium of GIZ, adelphi and the Institute for Global environmental Strategies (IGES); the Regional Policy Advocacy Component, implemented by UN Environment; and the Grants Programme, which has supported about 110 projects across 19 countries, with some additional 30 new projects expected to benefit from the EU support by the end of 2019.
SWITCH-Asia Grants Programme funds pilot projects helping companies adopt cleaner technologies and more sustainable industrial practices, as well as helping consumers to act more responsibly in their daily choices and lifestyles. Since 2007, this programme has funded ca. 130 projects, of which 23 new ones active as of 2020. Projects span across a wide range of sectors and are implemented by over 400 Asian, Central Asian and European partners, about 100 private sector associates, indirectly benefitting up to 70.000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The evidence provided by projects is meant to feed into
enterprises (MSMEs). The evidence provided by projects is meant to feed into policy and regulatory discussions with national governments in their transition towards a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy through the improvement of national strategies and action plans with regard to sustainable production and consumption practices.
32 projects have been active in early 2017, covering 15 countries in the region. Since then, 10 have been completed. The grants are implemented by Asian and European organisations. The projects cover key sustainable consumption and production (SCP) themes according to country needs, from consumer awareness raising to eco-innovation for SMEs and sustainable supply chain management. Until 2018, the programme covered 19 Asian countries to which the 5 countries from Central Asia were added as from 2019.
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