Thursday, July 03, 2008

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #50
July 1st, 2008


Message from the Editorial Team

RTA 2008 : Responsible tourism debated at Territorial Meeting of Auvergne
Responsible tourism - a laboratory for a more cohesive, cooperative and cultural territorial economy

A case of successful cooperation in Italy
An initiative for responsible and environmental consumption


International Forum - Globalization of Solidarity

Message from the Editorial Team

As we have many readers who were not subscribers during the first publications of our newsletter in 2003, we wish to clarify that our bulletin is strictly a personal initiative. It is not linked, either directly or indirectly, to an organization or a network, although we are actors of change committed to the life of our time. As we mentioned in the past, we are pursuing an effort of information sharing in order to better understand the challenges of the future and find how to bring about our contribution. Our 50th newsletter is an extension of the global meeting on local development held in Quebec in 1998. We shall return to this topic in a future issue.

In addition, we reiterate the invitation to send us short articles (1-2 pages) that we could distribute. Also, we are always looking for volunteers for translation into English, Spanish or Portuguese.
We wish to clarify that the complete document that Martine summarized in the last issue under the heading The responsibilities of a civil society under construction: a contribution to the debate is available on the site Foundation for Future Generations, in English and French.

Next issue – September 1st

Editorial Team
Yvon Poirier
Martine Théveniaut

Responsible tourism - a laboratory for a more cohesive, cooperative and cultural territorial economy: The Territorial Meeting of Auvergne (RTA) , May 27th –May 28th, 2008, hosted by the Region of Auvergne (France)

It was the 2nd regional step in the approach of the Plate Forme pour l’élargissement du local vers l’Europe (Platform to extend the Local level towards Europe), hosted by “Pactes Locaux” (Local Covenants), within the preparations of the LUX'09 Forum. From a realistic point of view, the same questions were addressed to the guests, some 50 people (not just from France, but also from Bosnia, Mali, Madagascar and Cameroon), from a wide range of stakeholders. The prospect is twofold: "do less harm" with mass tourism and make advances in responsible tourism. This path of progress has been considered by the territorial approach. How can it be the vector of quality human relations and develop balanced economic relations between hosts and guests?

In line with the RTA, a book is forthcoming this summer, with the prospect of introducing the main teachings of the International Forum of Solidarity Tourism, in Bamako, next October 2008.

Background information: Tourism holds the first position in world trade - before the automobile and oil industry. Its average growth is between 4% and 5% and the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) predicts that 1 billion "will arrive at borders as tourists" in 2010. In 2020, it will be 1.6 billion (WTO 2006). International tourism will double in the next 15 years, having quadrupled in the last thirty. Europe and North America, major emitters of vacationers (70% of the world total), also record the bulk of arrivals (76% in 1990, 66% in 2005). Tourism expenditures in 2003 amounted to approximately 6% of world exports of goods and services and almost 30% of services alone.

By increasing its flow, its marketing techniques and remote management, this multifunctional, comprehensive and reticular industry, with the mobility of its customers and its capital, tourism presents itself as the champion of liberalization of markets.

As an aggregate of liberalized services, tourism has a very special economic signature:
 The product marketed is intangible: human warmth, ambiance, exoticism ...;
 The consumption of a good or service by a tourist makes it a “tourist product";
 Highly seasonal conditions influence production, supply and consumption;
 Simultaneity of production / consumption implies strong reactions, in particular because of possible developments between the two aspects;
 The consumer goes to and in the product;
 The product is sold by description, via internet or by brochure. This means immateriality and inability to test. These risks make the customer demand more information and a personalized response;
 The products range from very standard (tourism with no local specificity - same hotels, cuisines and swimming pools) to very specific (unique to each country, customer segment, and niche).

The trade relationship in the industry is moving towards the co-production of personalized service. The contribution of tourism to GDP, employment, economic diversification, the revitalization of the territories is known. But the negative externalities of conventional tourism are also known and more and more contested.
These include:
 Host regions have no control in tourism flows; they are controlled by international groups whose shareholders require double-digit growth rates.
 Abuses and failure to comply with the commitments and the right of customers increase;
 External debt for investment and a currency loss of 40 to 90% decrease the amount of foreign exchange generated;
 Single activity tourism is dangerous because the territory is subject to sudden and unpredictable fluctuations (example: SARS in Asia);
 The right to holidays and leisure are very unequal and therefore create inequality of consumption, social and personal development;
 Tourism jobs are often poorly paid, seasonal and offer poor possibilities to develop qualifications;
 Violations of the rights of workers and exploitation, including sexual abuse of women and children are commonplace;
 Tourism weakens the social fabric and shakes the cultural foundations by strengthening social disparities;
 Air transportation tourism contributes to global climate imbalance. It has impacts on land; it pollutes exploits and creates «artificial» landscapes, monopolizes the land and creates conflicts of use of scarce resources such as water or energy.

Aware of these realities, actors in the tourism industry engage ... and develop or bring to light forms of solidarity, which are more equitable, sustainable, alternative, ethical, pro-poor, gentle, community-based, slow ... which are as such progress in corporate social responsibility, equity, income distribution, environmental concerns, environment friendly purchases, fairer business partnerships.
What do these new practices really involve? How are their added values articulated? How can they be brought in line to strengthen and enhance their impact? Can they answer to stakeholder concerns?

These new approaches face many difficulties to come in synergy with other actors in the sector. The tourism industry, a vertical market - crosses at different levels and times, other sectors and cross logics: those of territory such as suppliers, service providers, business fabric (goods and services), but also tangible and intangible aspects such as heritage, social organizations, infrastructure, public policy, legal and regulatory frameworks and international trade flows. How do all these logics fit together? How can the contact points be dynamic, catalytic, generate effects derived from diversification, development and strengthening? What are the methods?

Alain Laurent - Pactes Locaux
In charge of the Auvergne regional meeting and of synthesizing the 5 activities leading up to the LUX’09 Forum.

For information: BEIRA-CFP
Projet TER_RES (Territoires Responsables/BEIRA-CFP/Interstices )

A case of successful cooperation in Italy
An initiative for responsible and environmental consumption

Carrara, a city of Tuscany with 65,000 inhabitants is well known for its white marble. The old "Place for herbs" was renewed. Its traditional function has been restored through a market exclusively devoted to products which are organic and typical of the local agriculture.

Initially simple, the initiative promoted by the Deputy to Productive Activities of the Municipality, Andrea Zanetti, has become complex - but also richer - as new actors have joined in.

Each of 14 new counters provided by the administration to 40 vendors chosen to come to offer their products, each illustrate on a panel, the small business of the vendor and its history. So visitors may receive information and advice on responsible consumption, a counter is assigned to the co-leader association of the project ACU, Associazione Consumatori Utenti, and any other association of consumers wishing to participate.

Next to the open market, a hall in the rehabilitated former Moulin Forti hosts conferences on the subject of healthy nutrition, lifestyles, labelling of products, but also all issues that must be associated with consumption: climate change, water, energy, agriculture, waste, world hunger and global justice, rights and responsibilities, solidarity… The annual programme has been set.

To complete the cultural programme around the new market, the Assistant to Public Instruction, Giovanna Bernardini, includes educational initiatives for children, aimed at sustainable consumption in the School Plan. The ACU will lead the activities in schools and elsewhere, which will involve young people. A contest with prizes will be launched.

For now, events are held monthly, every first Saturday, but the market will soon become a biweekly rendezvous and its magnitude will expand further next year. This intention has been repeatedly expressed by the directors. They notably included the market in the Local Plan for Trade in public spaces, which guarantees it a spot through a permanent decision.

The market is indeed an integral part of the strategy of the municipality, which aims to renovate and revitalize the old downtown of Carrara, its old buildings and public places. In doing so, the municipality adds value to its historical heritage and encourages its maintenance.

Special attention for products which are local, organic and typical is characteristic to all directors of Tuscany, following the recommendations of Law No 18/2002 which implements organic/typical/traditional food supply via public tender and supports programs for food education. In a few days, the agglomeration of Carrara will award a contract to public canteens, schools and hospitals, with a call to tender which provides that all food is typical or organic.

The small traditional producers have little or no structured relationships, even in the same territory. The new market has given them the opportunity to begin to network, establish more rigorous contacts with agricultural associations such as Coldiretti, C.I.A.,and CTPB. The latter, for their part, have supported the program by using regional funds under Law 34/2001 for rural agricultural development. The cooperation around the market may well become an additional and important opportunity for improving technology (other than commercial) in agriculture.

The sale of products of small producers / niche market is a challenge in general. It is difficult to get consumers to know products of limited production, and conventional markets barely recognize a price differential sufficient for producers. However, the nature of the work and the expenses are proportionally higher and the bureaucracy is a barrier for them. The role of direct sales and particularly the commitment of GAS (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale) are essential in their case.

The GAS are an original innovation that builds on the passion of Italians for food. They traditionally lead many individuals/families to visit the peninsula in search of authentic products. The GAS adds the objective of promoting purchases based on solidarity and responsible consumption. These local groups are very independent. People organize themselves, select and purchase collectively and then share products of all kinds, but especially food.

Saving money is one reason to act, perhaps the first one, but not the most important. The key is to discover the best products and often excellent niche products, to help small producers and maintain direct relationships with them, create new friendly relations, support short circuit deliveries, and employ in a useful way one’s free time. In short, the quality of life and satisfaction translate one’s feelings of solidarity; these are the main motivations of these groups, which are extremely varied, which number 500 - 1000 units. The current financial law takes them into consideration for the first time and gives them tax advantages.

When the market opened on May 24th, sales proved to be such a great success that many vendors liquidated all their goods before the market closed. "They were all very satisfied and willing to extend the initiative" said Clara Gonnelli, President of ACU-TOSCANA who worked hard over six months to unite and achieve consensus among many various actors who had never worked together in beforehand.

Pia Valota
Coordinator: ASECO-Alliance of Social and Ecological Consumer Organisations


IV International Forum - Globalization of Solidarity

The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) and the European Institute for Solidarity based Economy (INEES) officially announced their next meeting, after those of Lima in 1997, Quebec in 2001 and Dakar in 2005.

The theme for the meeting is: Another economy exists- the innovations of the social solidarity economy.

This meeting will take place from April 22nd – 25th, 2009 at Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg.
You are invited to register on the website in order to participate in the preparatory exchanges and regularly receive information.

For further information :
Catherine Van Ouystel

Our Newsletters are available on the WEB:

Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Brunilda Rafael from France for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin from Brazil for the Portuguese translation

To contact us (for information, feedback, to subscribe or unsubscribe):
Yvon Poirier

No comments: