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SDSN at the World Travel & Tourism Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Written by Abigail Chifusa, Global Schools Project Officer and Samantha Thompson, SDG Academy Communications Coordinator

From November 28th, 2022 - December 2nd, 2022, a youth delegation composed of members from the Global Schools Program, SDSN Youth, Master’s in Development Practice Program, and SDG Academy community was among the over 2000 participants and 100 speakers who met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the 22nd World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit.

One of the aims of the WTTC summit was to shape the future of travel and tourism, focused on resilience and centered on sustainability, with the aim of allowing individuals to work together in order to build a better future for all.

On day one, the conference held Youth Day for delegates from around the world. The session featured an Opening Performance from the Ghanain Delegation Youth Choir and speeches from Former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Vice Minister of Tourism Her Excellency Princess Haifa Al Saud, and Minister of Tourism His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb.

This was a proud moment for the Global Schools Program (GSP) alongside the SDG Academy organizers and colleagues who were in attendance with other youth delegates to discuss issues concerning Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Sustainable Tourism with other world youth leaders.

GSP Project Officers, Abigail Chifusa and Kannan Reghunathan Nair alongside SDG Academy Communications Coordinator Samantha Thompson were thrilled to meet in person, pictured below.

SDG Academy Communications Coordinator Samantha Thompson, Global Schools Project Officer Abigail Chifusa, and Global Schools Project Officer Kannan Nair

The next two days of the conference, the delegates were able to attend sessions, walk through the exposition center and engage in thoughtful dialogues with leaders in the hospitality industry. Some of the sessions featured themes of the “Global Business of Travel,” “Maximizing Tourism Opportunities in the Middle East,” “Accelerating the Energy Transition,” “The Sustainable Future of Travel,” “Cities of Tomorrow,” and “Redefining the Modern Airport” among others.

Day three of the conference concluded with a session on “Next in Travel” featuring SDSN President Jeffrey Sachs and Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon Hinojosa who discussed inspiring a sustainability revolution.

Further, after the last session, the SDSN youth delegates were excited to have individual conversations with SDSN President, Jeffrey Sachs and posed to take pictures with him.

Global Schools Program Project Officer, Abigail Chifusa having a conversation with SDSN President, Jeffrey Sachs.

The final day of the conference, youth delegates were able to see the Saudi Arabian Tourism industry first hand. The first tour of the day was the Jewel of the Kingdom: Diriyah. Diriyah is the oldest city in Saudi Arabia that has been restored to be accessible to visitors.

SDG Academy Education Manager Imran Rasid, SDG Academy Regional Team Lead for Asia Shannon Kobran, SDG Academy Communications Coordinator Samantha Thompson, and SDG Academy Managing Director Amber Webb pictured in front of Diriyah

The second tour was of Masmak fortress and the Souq Al Zal, central to both the history and culture of Riyadh.

GSP Project Officer, Abigail Chifusa During a tour at the Souq Al Zal.

Finally, the delegates were able to visit the largest mosque in Riyadh and enjoy a traditional Saudi meal to conclude the week.

“I was inspired most of all by the countless conversations and engaging dialogues amongst the SDSN cohort of youth delegates. It is clear how much my generation values the earth and creating pathways for global citizens to participate in sustainable Tourism,” said Samantha Thompson, SDG Academy Youth Delegate.


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