On September 30th, Les Roches International School of Hotel Management welcomed guest speakers from the UNCTAD, The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Bonapas Onguglo, Mariona Cusi and Robert Hamwey gave a presentation on Sustainability and Development. MBA II and PGDII students were invited and as one of them, I had the honor to participate the event and understand more about UNCTAD’s involvement in sustainable development worldwide.
SUSTAINABILITY FROM THE UN PERSPECTIVE
Mr. Bonapas Onguglo, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, with rich and varied experience, gave a general introduction of the concept of sustainability from the UN’s perspective and defined the three pillars which support sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Mr. Onguglo argued that being sustainable has become a priority not only for the United Nations, but also for the whole world.
From his speech, we all realized there is indeed some progress, which he called “bright spots of great achievement” in the sustainability movement, including significant growth in the volunteer activities, increase in usage of renewable energy, increase in profitability and improvement in negotiation capabilities due to the narrowing of communication gaps. Nevertheless, more challenges are also waiting us to overcome in environmental, social and economic aspects.
I personally am particularly interested in the booming population issue and wondered how the world would react to the contradiction between exploding population and scarcity of natural resources, and how countries with a high level of poverty are going to achieve sustainable development.
BIO TRADE INITIATIVE
Following on the second period, Ms. Mariona Cusi shared with students her opinions on the Bio Trade Initiative. She applied examples of projects the team has done to explain how the UN has been contributing to fair trade.
Students, including myself found the case of Ecuador very informative. It showed the success of local labor gaining fair payment through the help of the UN, and we learnt the essentiality of product labeling as more and more people care about what they consume and how products are being made. Regarding this point, many students expressed concerns about the reliability of labeling. The presenter agreed that this is an important point, although it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the UN. She went on to say this should not deter the promotion of bio trade, as the law and competition in the market work together to expose frauds and guarantee reliable labeling.
SUSTAINABILITY IN THE HOTEL AND TOURISM INDUSTRY
In the last part of the presentation, Mr. Hamwey talked about Sustainability in the Hotel and Tourism Industry. The topic was educational and intriguing not only because he added humor to his speech, but also because it is closely related to our studies at Les Roches. Mr. Hamwey went quickly through the practical actions that manager can apply across the hotel’s departments to minimize waste, reduce water and energy consumption. Then he explained the way tourism industry benefits local economy as perceived through his own professional experience.
For me, one of his most memorable comments was made at the end of his speech when he stated: “Export local products through guests in hotels, not through the big ships”. In other words, local products can have huge potential competing in international markets in fair trade through the help of tourism.
And this was a wonderful answer to the question I had earlier regarding population, sustainability and developing markets.
Sandra Wang, Postgraduate Diploma student