Our message at SIDS4

As a co-sponsor, with CBCGDF from China, of a SIDS4 side event, Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President SUNx Malta, made the following Keynote Remarks:-

“SUNx Malta is delighted to co-host this session at SIDS 2024 – supporting CBCGDF and my friend Jinfeng Zhou, with some thoughts on Climate Change and Tourism. 

Our collaboration goes back many years inspired by our mutual friend and mentor, the late Maurice Strong, father of sustainable development. We met because Maurice firmly believed that China would play a key role in the fundamental global response to the eXistential Climate Crisis.

And as the UN Secretary-General keeps reminding us that crisis is a code red for humanity.


Dr Johnson famously said “There is nothing so concentrates the mind as being hanged on the morrow”

Well, humanity is being hanged on the morrow. 

The warning signals are everywhere

It’s the wildfires from Maui to Sydney: 

It’s the floods in Libya and Dubai: 

It’s the crazy air pollution in New York and Beijing. 

It’s the waves lapping at hotels In the Pacific and Indian Oceans

It’s the summer peaks becoming too hot to handle in the Mediterranean

It’s the Caribbean hurricanes coming harder and more often 

It’s the intensifying droughts killing off agriculture and dramatically increasing climate refugees in Africa

It’s the uncertain snow patterns, rock falls and glacier melts in Mountains across the planet.

It’s not just at Tourism destinations. Origin markets are also hit. Making traditionally predictable traffic patterns truly unpredictable.

And all this is without the global tipping points of melting ice sheets at both poles and thawing Tundra across the vast reaches of Siberia releasing COVID-style viruses that have been trapped for millions of years.

Nowhere is this more challenging and immediate than in Small Island States. The ones who did the least to cause the crises and yet are the most exposed.

This is the new reality

And if you have built your entire lifestyle and economy on those traditional patterns, it’s time to think about big change. And to think fast.

Dr. Johnson’s morrow is here today. 

Our world is screaming out for Climate Action NOW - not just by 2030 or 2050. 

Our Kids are demanding this - taking countries to court & flight shaming.

Even more significantly - so are the Climate Scientists - IPCC says to peak GHG emissions by 2025 to have any chance of hitting close to Paris 1.5 by 2050. The temperature where life, as we know it, stays liveable. We are on track for 2.5 to 4 degrees by the end of the century. 

Likewise, the TPCC a new IPCC-type science-based body, that we have incubated in the Sustainable  Tourism Global Centre in Saudi Arabia, to help the whole sector get more Climate resilient; also supports these views. Noting tourism already generates 8-10% of global GHG a number that’s steadily increasing - driven by the continuing upward trend in aviation emissions.     

And at those levels, the future of humanity is truly on the line.

Tourism is in the spotlight, perhaps more than any other sector

Until now weather has been our most predictable component.

Aviation has been in our travel DNA.

Tourism the promised lifeline to prosperity

All that is changed. 

We are poised like lemmings at the top of the cliff – staring into the abyss into which we are preparing to hurl ourselves.

Net Zero is a communal sleeping pill – letting us relax for business as usual today, and incrementally push tomorrow off the real-world agenda

We are deluding ourselves with declarations, and social media trumpeted self-promotion, fuelled by big bucks from big business and big government subsidies to stay in power and exacerbate the crisis.

Rearranging Deckchairs on the Titanic - as the iceberg gets closer and closer.

And for small island states it’s a massive disaster scenario already

According to the UN collectively responsible for less than 1% of global warming, but the first in the firing line. Many are decimated routinely by cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes, losing shorelines and livelihoods, seeing the future disappear in front of their eyes.


Hopefully, it's not too late to come to our collective senses.

At SUNx - a legacy for Maurice Strong we are fighting to help accelerate tourism’s response. Turning education into action. 

Building a Framework of Climate Friendly Travel (CFT) - Paris 1.5: SDG linked and Nature positive 

first to help adapt to the new climate reality: - simply to cope with the extreme weather and the death and destruction it is already bringing 

second to help peak GHG sooner rather than later: to play our part in controlling global warming

Our focus is the world's poorest countries and small islands - LDC and SIDS in UN speak. Countries that are the most exposed to the crisis and for whom Tourism is still the best chance for a decent development pathway.

Over the past four years, with great support from the Malta Tourism Authority – the Small Island State that first put Climate Change on the UN General Assembly agenda, we have:

Created the world’s first CFT  post graduate Diploma and trained nearly 100 Students from all over the world - to be Strong Climate Champion Chapter leaders in LDC & SIDS. Thoughtful activists and Change agents, building CFT local communities.

Established a Registry to help companies and communities frame Climate Action Plans - 500 from around the world and counting. 

Launched social enterprises to strengthen the virtuous circle of Climate Friendly Travel - Communities, Companies & Consumers. 

We take this action for our Kids

We take it now and we are ready to collaborate anywhere, anytime to co-create a greener and cleaner future. We are particularly pleased to take it together with CBCGDF in China – who will be a true world leader in the change we need.

Let me close with one important thought for all of us:

Of all the disasters foreseen on the horizon …none is more universally dangerous than if we bury our heads in the sand and leave the future in the hands of climate change deniers or status quo apologists & super smart lobbyists whose real intentions are to distort and delay.
More than ever before we need honourable clear-minded realists. Leaders who are genuinely committed to building the precautionary principle into our shared future.
And who genuinely cares about our grandkids.
And the more powerful the stakeholder: the more important this principle.


Geoffrey Lipman, SUNx Co-founder



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