Geoffrey Lipman Keynote at Mekong Tourism Forum on Authenticity, Sustainability and Climate Change

On Wednesday 6th July Professor Geoffrey Lipman gave a keynote speech at the Mekong Tourism Forum in Sihanoukville. This focussed on how the Mekong region can compete as an authentic experiential tourism destination in a competitive world.

Professor Lipman discussed authenticity in the context of sustainability and the existential nature of climate change and the threat that this poses to the travel industry.

In his speech at the Mekong Tourism Forum Professor Lipman highlighted the need to develop a Green Growth tourism strategy in the Mekong region in order to avoid catastrophic consequences from climate change. The Mekong with its average water level just 5 feet above sea level and seasonal flooding patterns is particularly susceptible to climate change.

Professor Lipman’s message is that climate change is existential and if we don’t get control of carbon in the next five years and programme a progressively tightening ‘no carbon’ era by 2050, our grandchildren will freeze or fry. The Mekong region is at the centre of the challenge and needs to take a lead in mobilizing its travel industry using 2017 - The International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development - as its launch.

Professor Lipman is former Executive Director IATA, President WTTC and Assistant Secretary General UNWTO. He is currently Director of and founder of The SUN Program

Geoffrey LipmanProfessor Lipman describes the SUN Program as follows:

Crafted under the tough guidance of my friend and mentor Maurice Strong – one of the true fathers of sustainable development and Secretary General of the Rio Earth Summit – the Strong Universal Network is a testament to his vision that our sector must be a leading global sustainability change agent, through Green Growth action, innovation and education.

SUN will provide a new form of human and electronic support, for measured, progressive change, by a sector that must be in the vanguard – as communities, companies and citizens.

It will do this through an innovative system of solar powered, interconnected ‘SUN-ARKs’, tracking change, sourcing global innovation, sharing good practice and finding funding.


Each prefabricated unit will be delivered in a container and positioned throughout the world in a range of communities linking national parks, urban centres and tourism destinations.

SUN-ARKS will be permanently connected via the internet cloud, with access to massive publicly available global data sources for research, measurement and analysis. They will be linked to national SUN Chapters, developed with the support of

ICTP (International Coalition of Tourism Partners). This will bring together interested stakeholders around a local university, managed by a team of three trained, ‘glocally’ focused post-graduate researchers, to provide Green Growth & Travelism-related data insights, funding advice, innovation sourcing and strategy support.

Professor Lipman’s message to the Mekong travel industry is:

We will need friends, collaborators and partners everywhere – the task is existential.

If you are interested in joining the SUN network, please contact Olly Wheatcroft, Program Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Geoffrey Lipman, SUNx Co-founder


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