The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency within the United Nations system, is the leading international organization in the field of tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and as a practical source of tourism know-how. The UNWTO plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, with the aim of contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, Human Rights and fundamental freedoms. In pursuing this aim, the organization pays particular attention to the interests of developing countries in the field of tourism.
The UNWTO was introduced for the first time as a committee at the NMUN conference, “in an attempt to place greater emphasis on the promotion of the preservation of our global environment” . At the conference, 117 states were represented. The following provisional agenda had been proposed: (1) Information Sharing and Privacy Rights, (2) Eco-Tourism, and (3) Ethics in Tourism: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). For the Kingdom of Morocco, as a state that hopes to develop new tourism branches and to find financial assistance, the second topic was of priority. At the beginning of the first meeting, during the discussions on the agenda, we tried to convince as many delegations as possible that it would also be in their interest to discuss the second topic first, and as most of the delegations shared our view, the agenda was changed to (2), (3), (1), being a favorable way for Morocco.
Very soon, during the first informal caucus, all regional groups gathered and we naturally stayed with the African block. As the first day did not leave much more time, we collected ideas and shared opinions about the topic in order to start working on papers the next day.
The second day turned out to be much more successful. We had revised our strategy concerning Morocco’s interests and were highly motivated. We returned to the African Block with which we had been working the day before, but we noticed very soon that these countries were not at all interested in cooperation as there was more or less one country that tried to take the lead while others did not have very strong feelings about the topic.
So we decided to create a new working group and started to write a report that included our ideas and goals. Our main objective to include in this report was that the UNWTO should expand the ST-EP program (ST-EP=Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty) to encompass more member states and particularly developing countries that seek to promote development via sustainable tourism. Furthermore, it should establish a trust fund for the development of ecotourism projects so that each country could receive financial or technical support. Very soon we found other countries that shared our vision and we had very fruitful talks and discussions. While one of us was constantly working on the report, the other one talked to different groups and delegations, telling them about our project, finding signatories for our report and discussing ideas. At the end of this second day, we came together with another group under the leadership of Bangladesh, which had started to write a report that contained very good ideas. As some of them were similar to ours, we decided to work together and merge our ideas into one report.
The first half of the third day was the most successful part of the conference for the Kingdom of Morocco. Together with Bangladesh, Madagascar, Senegal, China, Slovenia and others, we worked intensely on our report and we finally managed, after some minor discussions, to include all of Morocco’s priorities concerning ecotourism.
At the end of this exhausting third day, we finally finished our working paper and handed it over to the chair. After only minor corrections, it was accepted as a draft report. As we had to wait for the other groups to finish their reports, we were not able to do much more during the informal session than talk to the other delegations and groups, discussing ideas and gathering support for our report. During formal session, we tried to put Morocco on the speakers’ list as often as possible, which proved to be quite hard in a committee with 117 states, but luckily we were given the opportunity to hold three speeches, informing all delegations about our projects and partners, trying to stress the importance of our report and asking them to come talk to us in case there were any unanswered questions.
In our speeches we promoted the common goals we and our partners had, mainly the expansion of the ST-EP program and the implementation of a trust fund. We further proposed to have a Second International Year of Ecotourism in 2009 and to hold regional conferences which would enable the countries to put ecotourism into practice and would build a platform for the knowledge exchange among countries on the topic of ecotourism.
On the fourth day, after all groups had handed in their reports, we finally went into voting procedure. There were 16 reports on the floor of which 15 passed – the report which Morocco had co-sponsored passed with most of the votes in favor and only few abstentions, as we proudly realized.
To sum up, the work in the UNWTO was very different from the other bodies and committees at NMUN 2007 as tourism and environment are topics that concern every country and so we felt that in general, there was more or less a broad agreement among us. Even if there were a lot of different ideas and projects, there was no need to negotiate hard or to convince other delegations of our views, which created a very friendly atmosphere. Compared to the simulations in which we had participated in Germany during the preparation process, it was a whole new experience.