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Wageningen University

Tourism and Climate Change

Wageningen University via edX


Tourism and climate change, inextricably connected
From global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions to ecosystem change and loss of biodiversity, from excessive precipitation to extreme droughts; the effects of climate change have become apparent around the world. Eventhough such disasters are devastating for tourism, the industry’s contribution to climate change remains formidable. And if it continues to grow as it does today, the United Nations expect tourism to be solely responsible for consuming the global yearly carbon budget by 2070, all by itself!

In turn, climate change is already affecting tourism destinations. For instance, numerous small islands and coral reefs are under threat of devastating storms and sea level rise. At the same time, we can see other parts of the world gradually turning into deserts, caused by incessant droughts as well as excessive water consumption by tourism.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation for tourism destinations
UNWTO: “The future resilience of tourism will depend on the sector’s ability to embrace a low carbon pathway and cut emissions by 50% by 2030”. In light of this, we have dedicated this online course to the key challenges tourism faces in context of drastic climate change. You will engage with fellow learners in (re-)modelling various case studies related to adaptation and mitigation. Through this exercise you'll gain a well-founded understanding of how to best engage with future tourism issues within your organisational situation. You will also learn about your own carbon footprint.

Join the debate to drive tourism's sustainability transition
The MOOC ends with a range of potential future scenarios. And you will be invited to vote, based on which the teaching staff will further equip the content of this course to best address emergent challenges. Importantly, you will be invited to join the debate platform on sustainable innovations, during and after finalisation of the course. Since there is no doubt that tourism has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, any Corona related questions will be discussed throughout our tourism courses.

For whom
Whether you work in tourism, are a tourism related business owner or a fervent traveller, join us for this MOOC as we project onto the future what impact tourism will have, if left unaltered. Help drive sustainability in tourism! Subscribe now.

Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism

If you find this MOOC interesting, we recommend you take also a look at our Professional Certificate Programme Tourism in Transition: Exploring a Sustainable Future, designed to take you on an wholistic investigation of the industry and eventually leading to your very own concrete envisioning of what sustainable tourism should look like. It consists of three MOOCs, the first ranked by Class Central among the 10 best online courses in the world, the second nominated for the annual edX® award in 2019:

  • Sustainable Tourism: Society & Environmental Aspects
  • Sustainable Tourism: Rethinking the future
  • Tourism and Climate Change


Module 1: Planetary overview

In module 1 you will become aware of planetary context of tourism and climate change. We address topics such as:

  • Planetary boundaries
  • Climate change
  • The greenhouse effect
  • Emissions
  • Tourism emissions

Exercise: Self-positioning in the tourism and climate change debate

Module 2: Tourism impacts

The goal of module 2 is to become aware of impacts of tourism on the climate and climate change. You will learn about:

  • Emissions, trends and future
  • Paris Agreement
  • Mitigation challenges
  • Adaptation challenges

Exercise: Calculate your travel footprint & interpret/discuss

Module 3: Climate impacts

In the third module of the course you will become aware of

  1. Climate change effects on environment, tourism and society
  2. Potential use of climate services

We will address topics such as:

  • (in)Direct effects
  • Mitigation effects
  • Societal effects
  • Vulnerabilities of places and people
  • Climate Services and decision making

Module 4: Connecting Agenda’s

In this module you will understand the linkages between mitigation and adaptation agendas and create awareness of future challenges of tourism.

You will learn about:

  • Mutual influence mitigation and adaptation strategies
  • Extreme tourism scenarios
  • Future course scenarios

Taught by

Prof. Dr. Edward Huijbens, Dr. Arjaan Pellis, Dr. Bas Amelung and Dr. Machiel Lamers


4.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

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  • Anonymous
    I have completed this course as a part of the professional certificate offered by WageningenX. Given that this was put together during the pandemic (based on instructors presenting from their laptops and computers), I thought the instructors did a…

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