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News > Life After Hymers > Championing Climate Friendly Travel

Championing Climate Friendly Travel

Geoffrey Lipman (OH 1955-62) has worked in the Aviation Travel Industry for over 50 years

Geoffrey Lipman studied in the Senior School from 1955 until 1962.  He went on to study at Manchester University for an LLB and post-grad Management Sciences diploma.  Having played rugby at Hymers, he continued the sport while at university for 3 years and he was elected to 21 Club for top athletes in the University in all disciplines.

While at school, Geoffrey was more involved in sports than in music ("I was disbarred from singing as Mr  Watson said I was tone deaf") and he helped launch a Table Tennis Team.  Geoff Underwood was one of his favourite teachers, as they played Table Tennis together, along with Mr Pickles who let them trade stamps during History!

Geoffrey has remained in touch with his best friend at school, Tom Goldberg, as they shared a common interest in sustainability, which became a main focus of his career.

My funniest memory is handing in an essay showing Bonnie Prince Charlie fleeing from defeat at Cullodon to Perth in Australia, a hundred years before Captain Cook discovered it because Tom told me he fled to Perth.

After leaving university in 1966, Geoffrey worked for twenty years at The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which supports aviation with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency, and sustainability.  While working at the IATA, Geoffrey left Hull for Canada and continued to play Rugby, becoming captain of a Canadian rugby union team.

I started from an entry at the base, with a desk in the tea room (the gossip was the best induction of all) to Executive Director and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Director General.

While working at IATA, he learned just how much the whole tourism sector has been driven by aviation, not just as the primary intercontinental connecter but as the source of so much of the collective thinking, planning, promoting, and influencing.

I also learned about the pivotal role of governments in creating the enabling and regulatory frameworks, without which there could be no operations at all. And who provide the basic infrastructure on which the tourism value chain rests and without which we couldn’t operate at all.

Geoffrey then went on to spend a decade as President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), learning about the importance of the Private Sector in delivering and integrating the rest of the value chain.  He then spent another decade as Assistant Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) where he continued to learn more about the different government positions on Tourism issues and how important the sector is to the large numbers of small nations.

In 2010, Geoffrey co-founded The SUNx Program and has spent over a decade running the EU-based non-governmental organisation, focussed originally on Green Growth and latterly on the Climate Crisis. With the support of the Government of Malta and its Tourism Authority, where they are articulating a concept of Climate Friendly travel.

It has been a fascinating time where I have amongst other things, had direct talks with a dozen Head’s of State, served on an EU Aviation “Wiseman’s Commission”, opened China’s National Tourism Day, co-hosted with World Economic Forum (WEF), a dinner in Davos for Simon Peres and Yasser Arafat, exchanged views on tourism for an hour with Robert Mugabe, shared a stage for another hour with Al Gore and danced in the discotheque of Imelda Marcos. It has been fun but serious business. And it remains that way.

If we don’t fix the Climate Crisis, everything we do is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. There is a Code Red Iceberg getting closer every day.

Now, in this last phase of his working life, he has been privileged to become an Envoy for the Sustainable Global Centre in Saudi Arabia.  In that capacity, he has been helping to lead its initiative to create a TPCC (tourism panel on climate change). Modeled on the IPCC, the goal is to bring together leading climate scientists from the sector and produce some objective science-based metrics to better inform the tourism sector leadership as it faces the big challenge ahead.

We launched at COP 27 in Sharm in November 2022 and we are planning a global sector stocktake this year (2023), with a science assessment next year (2024).

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