Megan Epler Wood is the Director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the Center where she is managing a comprehensive program to build stronger health and sustainability systems within the international tourism industry.
Three billion people traveled by air in 2012. It is projected there will be 4 billion air travelers by 2017 growing to 6 billion in the next decade. Fragile destinations are increasingly threatened by a lack of coordination and systems to manage rapid growth worldwide. Appropriate public health systems for the management of solid waste, waste water, air pollution, noise, energy and carbon emissions are lacking in the majority of emerging economies.
The International Sustainable Tourism Initiative will work with experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Graduate School of Design, Business School and the Kennedy School of Government to provide a research and technical assistance program to be designed and implemented in cooperation with international tourism leaders in industry, government and civil society.
Megan Epler Wood founded The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, the first NGO in the world dedicated to the development of tourism as a sustainable development tool. She was its CEO from 1990-2002, leading an international effort to define, manage, and guide the development of ecotourism development with businesses, communities, governments, and international organizations. She managed multidisciplinary research on sustainable tourism development in countries including Kenya, Ecuador, India, and Belize with funds from the Ford, Park, Summit, Merck Family and Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundations. She won the Lifetime Achievement Award from TIES in 2013 for her work as a pioneer in sustainable tourism. Her book, Ecotourism; Principles, Practices and Policies, published by UNEP, is a standard text used by students worldwide.
Since 2003, Epler Wood has led the international consulting practice EplerWood International, fostering sustainable tourism development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America working for USAID, the World Bank group, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Planeterra Foundation.
Epler Wood is a Senior Project Associate at the Cornell Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise in the Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management, leading sustainable tourism business education for executives and local institutions in all sectors of the tourism economy and research on the value of tourism for the conservation of ecosystems worldwide.
She is a lead instructor at Harvard Extension School where she teaches Environmental Management of International Tourism Development and International Sustainable Economic Development in a global digital classroom at the graduate school of Sustainability and Environmental Management.