Taking new strides in sustainable development

ITB Berlin Keynote by Norbert Barthle MP, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development spotlights importance of sustainability

Norbert Barthle MP, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development was scheduled to deliver a keynote on 5 March on the topic of sustainability, as well as hosting the “Sustainable Development Day”. We asked the Mr Barthle why this theme is so important.

At the German Development Ministry (BMZ), we work for environmental, social and economic sustainability worldwide. Tourism is a key instrument for this, as it plays a role for all of these aspects. We therefore want to work with the tourism industry to leverage tourism for sustainable development. We are convinced that this is the only way in which progress can be made on long-term, viable change – and that is the message we wanted to convey at ITB Berlin.

What are the key stakes and challenges as time goes on?
The goal of our work is to lend impetus to inclusive development. That is why we are particularly active in networks, for instance with industry initiatives. The better the cooperation between the various actors from politics, business, civil society and academia, the more effective we will be in achieving lasting results.

How and why do you believe the annual ITB Berlin convention is important in advancing thought leadership on issues such as these?
ITB gives us a chance to reach out to the various actors in this multifaceted industry. It is also a place where we can enter into an exchange with industry. Last year, we published the second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism together with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Amadeus Germany GmbH and the World Bank. We are also making gender equality and the empowerment of women a stronger focus of our work on tourism.

Can you outline the opportunities offered by BMZ in tourism development?
Tourism provides great opportunities for emerging economies and developing countries to develop their infrastructure, create jobs and, thus, income opportunities, boost local economic cycles, conserve their natural heritage, and reduce poverty. In many developing countries tourism has turned from a niche product into a mass product. In the least developed countries, tourist arrivals have tripled within ten years. Being an employment-intensive sector, tourism makes an important contribution to sustainable economic development. It is estimated that, in the next ten years, eight million new jobs could be created through tourism in Africa alone.

Photo: Norbert Barthle MP, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development


The tourism value chain is very complex and provides openings for addressing many further industries and issues. This means the tourism sector has a lot of potential for successful development cooperation. BMZ currently supports more than 100 projects with tourism components. These projects also address priority areas such as sustainable economic development, nature conservation, rural development and improvement of the policy environment. One project in Morocco uses the potential of sustainable tourism in order to generate jobs and income for rural people. So far, it has helped create more than 400 jobs and improve working conditions and incomes for over 2,000 Moroccans. Another example is in Madagascar, where an environmental project seeks to create alternative sources of income for people living in protected areas. Based on cooperation with local communities, the project has supported the development of tourism products that are now generating income for more than 180 local people.