Voluntary Initiative Tools

UNEP's contribution includes research on the most common types of voluntary initiatives,ecolabels and codes of conduct, and their use in the tourism industry.


Ecolabels can help tourism suppliers identify critical environmental issues, speed up the implementation of eco-efficient solutions, and lead to effective ways of monitoring and reporting on environmental performance. While ecolabels can help sell tourism products, they also help identify products that decrease the use of resources such as energy and water, reducing costs for the operator. Ecolabels are thus both a marketing and an environmental management tool.

A UNEP publication, "Ecolabels in the Tourism Industry", examines the role of ecolabels within the context of voluntary self-regulation in the tourism industry. It aims to help those applying for ecolabels understand better the nature of ecolabel schemes, and to provide a guide for all those involved in designing and operating them -- the tourism industry, local and national government, local communities and non- governmental organizations.

Codes of Conduct

Voluntary environmental codes of conduct have come to the fore in recent years as a new and promising tool to raise awareness of environmental issues and improve behaviour and practices. They provide an interesting complement to other tools such as regulations and economic instruments. Agenda 21 encourages business and industry "to adopt and report on the implementation of codes of conduct promoting best environmental practice." Within the tourism sector these are now sufficiently numerous and widespread to warrant an interim review of their content and effectiveness.

The UNEP publication "Environmental Codes of Conduct" is a technical report based on a survey and analysis of existing codes developed by countries, industry associations and NGOs. It offers not only examples of environmental codes for the tourism industry, for host communities and for tourists, but also essential elements common to successful codes and some of the most common pitfalls; implementation and monitoring tools and programmes currently in use to activate codes and monitor and report on performance; and references and useful addresses.