Sustainable Tourism, Optimal Resource and Environmental Management ERASMUS+ CBHE 2018 –  STOREM

 

Project Leader: Università degli studi di Cagliari (Cagliari, Italia).

Partners:

Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (Montpellier, Francia);

Universidad del Magdalena (Santa Marta, Colombia);

Universidad EAFIT (Medellin, Colombia);

Universidad para la Cooperaciòn Internacional (San Josè, Costa Rica);

Universidad del Turismo (San Josè, Costa Rica);

University of West Indies (Bridgetown, Barbados);

Unidad de Planificaciòn y Desarrollo (Santa Marta, Colombia).

 

 

The STOREM project links Europe, Latin America (LA) and the Caribbean through the development of new curricula on Environmental Protection focused on Sustainable Tourism and Management of Natural Resources, contributing to the modernization of the existing postgraduate careers in the universities of LA and ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific nations).

The project focuses on the provision of the necessary skills / competencies to private and public actors for an adequate management of the natural environment in the face of the climate change threats and other risks that affect the coast. In fact, the Caribbean coast, home to some of the most pristine and diverse ecosystems in the world, depends largely on natural resources to generate and support economic growth.

 

The challenge for this region is to reconcile the demands of growth with the need to protect and manage their habitats and resources to achieve sustainable development, while facing global environmental threats. Predicted climate changes are already severely affecting several ecosystems, such as coral reefs, and territories with decreasing diversity of plant and animal species, reducing water availability and generating hydroelectric power.

The decrease in resources caused by windstorms and the estimated increase in sea level are directly reflected in economic activities in coastal areas, especially where the contribution of tourism to GDP and employment is relatively high. In many cases, tourism is the most important economic activity for the SIDS (Small Island Developing States) of the Caribbean, providing direct and indirect employment to a large number of people.

The competition to grow and diversify tourism goes beyond the island states and conditions all Caribbean coastal countries. In such a competitive environment, where planning and regulatory controls are rather weak, the threat to the long-term sustainability of the tourism industry is a reality. A group of professionals – trained to weigh the environmental risks derived from the use of natural resources in tourism along with the opportunities that the same sector produces for the economy – are necessary but still scarce in most Caribbean coastal countries.

 

STOREM aims to activate a process of capacity building to ensure that sustainability and environmental protection are integrated into social and economic problems. In addition, the action addresses the process of integration of refugees in universities. Colombia has the largest number of displaced people in the world: according to the Center for Monitoring Internal Displacement in 2016 in Colombia, some 7.246.000 people among the 48.654.000 citizens are displaced.

The Colombian case is included in the list of Forgotten Crises of the European Commission. Sustainable tourism is of particular interest also for territories with a high concentration of internally displaced persons: at the national level, with the “Tourism, Peace and Coexistence” strategy, the Colombian government established the priority of using sustainable tourism to boost development and help the victims of the conflict to recover, in particular put the departments of Magdalena and Antioquia as specific objectives.

 

Objectives

STOREM project aims at curriculum development of 5 Caribbean HEIs of LA and ACP regions under the subject Environmental Sciences – a thematic priority of both regions involved. Private and public actors of the regions express needs for skills useful to a proper management of the natural environment, in face of climate change threats, and other risks that affect the coastline. The action is aimed at implementing 2 new MSc in the field of sustainable tourism and resource management in 1 Colombian and 1 Costa Rican HEIs, while integrating existing graduate pathways of 3 other HEIs. The proposed action integrates the EU HEIs multidisciplinary learning and research expertise on sustainability issues with the experience of the most important HEI in the Caribbean ACP region (UWI) in training graduates in various aspect of environment protection and natural resources management.

 

The project meets the regional priorities of creating new skills for professionals in the field of environmental protection, territorial planning, sustainable tourism and management.

The specific objectives of the project are:

 

SO1: To design and develop 2 new Master degree curricula and a set of new courses in cooperation with partners’ HEIs;

SO2: To develop a model of interaction between HEIs and private and public actors;

SO3: To establish Observatories on Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Protection at PCs’ HEIs, which will be used for teaching, research, policy evaluation and in order to keep high the level of awareness on the issues of sustainability;

SO4: To strengthen the peace process by promoting higher education and labor market inclusion opportunities for Internally Displaced Population (IDPs), in the new Master degree, as well as to build local capacities through training activities and support inter and intra community dialogue.

 

The proposed pathway comprises a set of different upgrades and new MSc courses diversifying teaching proposals in the region, integrating the Environmental Sciences to respond to the Cross-Cutting Priority on project diversification, in terms of overall and specific objectives, activities, target groups and consortium compositions. In particular, University of Magdalena will elaborate a new MSc course in Sustainable Tourism, EAFIT will integrate the existing MSc in Earth Science with 2 new STOREM modules, UCI will update the MSc in Sustainable Tourism Management, UTUR will implement the new MSC in Eco-lodgings, Landscaping and Conservation and finally UWI will update its current MSc in Natural Resource and Environmental Management with new STOREM modules.

 

The project addresses also the cross cutting priority on refugees’ integration in HEIs: 2 out of 5 HEIs in our network include in their student population a relevant component of internal displaced population (IDPs). An IDPs Advisory Board will support the activities to identify post-conflict situation and IDPs educational and career problems and participate in the elaboration and implementation of the special approach for the involvement of beneficiaries. One strategy of the project will concentrate on facilitating the enrolment of IDPs students in the long-term. STOREM project aims at curriculum development of 5 Caribbean HEIs of LA and ACP regions under the subject Environmental Sciences – a thematic priority of both regions involved. Private and public actors of the regions express needs for skills useful to a proper management of the natural environment, in face of climate change threats, and other risks that affect the coastline. The action is aimed at implementing 2 new MSc in the field of sustainable tourism and resource management in 1 Colombian and 1 Costa Rican HEIs, while integrating existing graduate pathways of 3 other HEIs. The proposed action integrates the EU HEIs multidisciplinary learning and research expertise on sustainability issues with the experience of the most important HEI in the Caribbean ACP region (UWI) in training graduates in various aspect of environment protection and natural resources management.

 

Expected Impact

The expected impact of STOREM will be first with the PC’s Universities’ curricula and education processes. The need of a graduate pathway (master) in Sustainable Tourism, Optimal Resource and Environmental Management is clear both in Colombia and Costa Rica where academic courses on the issues of sustainability lack at the national level, although, as motivated in part E, strongly needed since the vulnerability of the Caribbean countries to climate change threats.

Reaching the project’s main target group – faculty staff and students- is ensured through the involvement of a number of stakeholder groups in each work package activities, including (i) students currently enrolled in topics within the Environmental Sciences domain and specifically within sustainable tourism, resource management and biodiversity, strategic territorial planning (ii) applicants to programs within the same domain (iii) graduates within the tourism and environmental protection domain and interested to sustainability issues (iv) individuals with careers within tourism, resource and environmental management, strategic territorial planning (v) academics teaching in the field (vi) practitioners involved in tourism development aspects and (vii) members of the public and civil society whose work and activities are connected to environmental issues.

Staff, students and touristic practitioners are the ultimate beneficiaries of the outputs of STOREM, which will bring new skills and competences to the regional labour markets through jobs, workplaces practices.

Colombian partners will identify enrolled IDP and other vulnerable students and alumni. The selected participants from these vulnerable groups will take part in the different training activities and graduate (master) course offered within the project’s lifespan, serving to the needs and the activities of their wider community in the field of sustainability.

In order to sustain the continuity of the action on PCs’ Universities curricula after the implementation phase STOREM foresees the role of the Observatories on Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Protection at PCs’ HEIs, which will have a crucial role for producing teaching material, research, policy evaluations and for keeping the level of awareness high on the issues of sustainability in the wide society. Furthermore, STOREM’s activities on building a partnership between the university and enterprises in the business sectors will also contribute to the impact of the project beyond the Universities into the wide society for both LA and ACP regions.

Both initiatives create significant collaboration between partner institutions in LA, ACP and EU regions with positive reflections on the tourism enterprises practices to be adopted. Developing new skills in sustainability issues, will eventually advance the social and economical development of both LA and ACP areas by equipping academics, tourism professionals and administrators.