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Promises and Progress: Sustainable Tourism Development and Rio+20

‘Despite the presence of scores of heads of state, Rio+20, as the summit is known, was expected to produce the weakest imaginable commitment to greening the global economy’ - The Economist June 2012

Not the most optimistic of starts to the third global summit on sustainable development…

Why the doom and gloom? As followers of the sustainable development agenda will know, skepticism and fatigue have plagued these international negotiation processes for many years. Whilst progress has been demonstrated on many fronts since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the meetings themselves can be reduced to endless semantic debate on terminology and tit-for-tat fidgeting - producing weak final documents.

Rio+20 was no exception.Has tourism turned sustainable? (Flickr Creative Commons, StormeTX)

The final Outcome document emerging from the last world summit (the 2002 World Summit of Sustainable Development) outlined five, rather weak commitments specifically for the tourism sector. Ten years on – has there been any progress?