As this 18th edition of The Olive Tree went to press, the Covid-19 virus was raging in China and just beginning to spread beyond. The first two months of the Third Decade of the 21st century were clearly off to a bad start. The third and fourth months appear set to be even worse.
The chances of attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the end of this “Decade of Delivery” are looking bleak. History is repeating itself. The first half of the 20th century was overshadowed by the two World Wars. The first half of 21st century is being similarly overshadowed by different kinds of wars – trade, technology, the environment, poverty, religious extremism, migration, e.
As none of them augur well for Travel & Tourism, the over-arching challenge facing the industry is: Can it pluck up the courage to confront them? If so, what can it do? And how?
This edition of The Olive Tree offers some guidelines, all based on early-warnings sounded by the United Nations itself. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has identified these looming threats to human progress: Surging Geopolitical Tensions, the Climate Crisis, Global Mistrust and the Downsides of Technology. He called them “The Four Horsemen”, a reference to the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (Death, Famine, War, and Conquest) depicted in the 1887 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov on the cover of this edition.
On Page 97, the World Social Report 2020, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, identifies four powerful megatrends which it says are exacerbating global inequality: Technological Innovation, Climate Change, Urbanization and International Migration. All are inter-related. But the UN also has solutions.
Mr. Guterres says the best start would be to give the world respite from conflict. His four-point message for global leaders: “Stop escalation. Exercise maximum restraint. Re-start dialogue. Renew international cooperation.” On Page 73, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay complements all the above messages by calling
for a total focus on “the four Ps on which our future depends: People, Prosperity, The Planet and Peace.”
These early-warnings and solutions offer clear pointers on how Travel & Tourism can play a lead and exemplary role in crafting a new Magna Carta for the post-Covid-19 era. No reinvention of the wheel is necessary, just a realignment of targets and the means of attaining them. Marking its 75th anniversary, the UN was set up in the aftermath of the devastating two wars to heal wounds and bring peace. Sadly, Mr. Guterres is again reminding the world that the threat posed by the
“Four Horsemen” is still very much alive.
The Covid-19 crisis is now a Fifth Horseman. Collectively, they give the world an opportunity to start afresh. As Travel & Tourism is one of the worst affected economic sectors, it can take the lead in redefining and rebuilding its own future, as we