United Nations
15 September 2021 - Our website is currently experiencing technical issues which prevent users from registering new initiatives/commitments, updating existing ones, submit progress reports and accurately using the search filters. We are working tirelessly to fix these issues. Please keep checking this website for updates.
Encouraging sustainable tourism to protect migratory species and support local communities
by Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (United Nations entity)
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has been working with partner organizations and through its instruments as a facilitator to promote sustainable tourism to protect migratory species, which highly benefit from tourism through habitat conservation, reduction of threats from collisions and fishing, and providing incentives to people to ensure their protection. Ecotourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, and if undertaken in sustainable ways, would significantly support local communities in remote areas and create alternative livelihoods. CMS is working on several different initiatives with tourism, at both a local and global scale, and through the development of new activities and making existing ones more sustainable.

Current and future initiatives for sustainable tourism will address many of the targets of SDG 14, as they aim to increase economic benefits and protect species through sustainable management. A resolution on sustainable boat-based marine wildlife watching was adopted at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2014, and has given rise to the development of guidelines that will be reviewed at COP 12 to promote good practices such that tourism has minimal impact on the behavior of watched animals. Future actions expand on this resolution, providing recommendations on recreational in-water interactions with aquatic mammals in the wild to minimize adverse impacts. This year, the COP in the Philippines is focusing on sustainable development, placing emphasis on the SDGs and the global efforts to reach the targets. The Philippines are leading the way in the development of appropriate measures to ensure ecotourism does not negatively affect migratory species, such as avoiding impacts on the long-term survival of populations, and that activities should create sustainable social and economic benefits within local communities.

More specifically, initiatives have also been proposed for whale shark tourism by the Government of the Philippines, to help ensure the socio-economic benefits of this tourism towards the local communities, directly addressing target 14.A. These actions for the whale shark would also create guidelines to limit impacts on whale sharks, build capacity and engage with local communities that may be affected by these efforts. Additional actions have been proposed by the Manta Trust for all Mobulid rays, aiming at developing alternative livelihood for Mobulid fishermen and communities that rely on Mobulid rays. Sustainable tourism and community engagement are proposed as one of the solutions for an alternative livelihood. With sustainable tourism comes more resources to promote research activities, assist less developed countries, and supports effective wildlife conservation.
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Community or Locally Managed Marine Areas
  • Integrated Coastal Management
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
  • Economic benefits from sustainable tourism
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
- Recreational In-Water Interaction with Aquatic Mammals guidelines and recommended code of conduct presented at COP 13
- Identification of potential alternative livelihoods and sources of income
- Strengthened implementation of sustainable tourism guidelines and recommendations by Parties
- Sustainable Boat-based Wildlife Watching guidelines to be adopted at COP 12
Staff / Technical expertise
o CMS acts as a facilitator to unfolding initiatives, and provides input and guidance during the implementation of recommendations.
In-kind contribution
o Contributions from governments, the Manta Trust, Parties of CMS, Working Group on Aquatic Mammals, Scientific Council
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 - Ongoing
Government of the Philippines (Government), Manta Trust (NGO), UN Environment (United Nations Entity), Sharks MOU (United Nations Entity), IOSEA (United Nations Entity), Dugongs MOU (United Nations Entity), ASCOBANS (United Nations Entity)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Government, Private sector (tourism), International Organizations addressing biodiversity and/or marine resources conservation.
Contact information
Melanie Virtue, Head, Aquatic Species Team, melanie.virtue@cms.int,
Bonn, Germany
Other SDGs
United Nations