Biosphere Certification Program
What is the Biosphere System?
Biosphere Sustainable is a sustainability management system and internationally recognized certification for destinations and tourism businesses, created by the Responsible Tourism Institute more than 25 years ago. Biosphere is aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating a common language and framework from which to advance sustainable development across the tourism industry. Presently, more than 44 global destinations are Biosphere certified, with 11 working towards certification. View an introductory video below.
Vancouver Island Biosphere Commitment Program
The Biosphere Commitment Program is a collaborative industry initiative that supports tourism businesses to adopt sustainable practices as an extension of Vancouver Island’s Biosphere destination certification. Using the 17 SDGs as the guiding framework, this program aims to empower tourism stakeholders to take action across the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability.
Program Inclusion and Benefits
- Free Access to Biosphere Sustainability Management Platform: create dynamic sustainability action plans that are easy to navigate and manage online; engage team members along the journey.
- Complimentary Value-Added Sustainability Programming: Access to three (3) educational videos, three (3) hours of one-on-one coaching with a sustainability expert, eco-efficiency assessments for eligible businesses, and $250 bursary / business towards additional sustainability support programs.
- Global Recognition (Biosphere): Be listed and promoted as a “Biosphere Committed” or “Biosphere Certified” business to the global community on Biosphere Sustainable.
- Promotions (4VI): All Biosphere members will be spotlighted on 4VI’s LinkedIn account and featured on 4VI’s website (Biosphere business page will be launched mid 2023)
- Join a Movement: Join a growing network of tourism businesses using tourism as a force for good.
Tourism operators must design and implement a sustainability action plan for their organization.
- The initial action plan must address at least 3 of the SDGs and be created within 3 months of joining.
- Operators are required to provide evidence of project implementation
- Action plans are to be updated annually or with the termination of each project
How to Get Involved
- Step 1: CONFIRM your participation by emailing Kyla Egan, Director, Sustainability at [email protected]
- Step 2: SIGN the Biosphere membership agreement and fill out onboarding questionnaire
- Step 3: CREATE a Biosphere account for your organization and link to Vancouver Island
- Step 4: BOOK a Biosphere Sustainable platform tutorial and program briefing with Kyla
- Step 5: LEARN by participating in the coaching sessions and watching the educational videos
- Step 6: BUILD your company’s personalized Sustainability Action Plan, working towards commitment
- Step 7: COLLABORATE to fulfill the actions and activities for each SDG, working towards certification
Vancouver Island Carbon Audit & Action Plan
In 2023, we completed a comprehensive carbon audit for tourism emissions in the Vancouver Island Region.
Using 2019 data, the audit found that the impact of more than 10 million visitors generated a total of 2,010,426 tCO2e. Put in context, the total is equivalent to 540,000 cars driving on the road for a year.
As an organization, we believe that climate action needs to be a top priority; in keeping with the goal of making tourism a force for good on Vancouver Island, we have set a target to cut emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
Now that we know the tourism sector’s total carbon emissions and where they come from, the next step is doing something about it. We have established five key goals to tackle the sector’s carbon emissions and help make the Vancouver Island Region’s tourism sector a climate action and sustainable tourism leader. The climate action plan is based on partner and rightsholder engagement and best practices from around the world.
4VI is proud to be a Rainbow Registered accredited organization. Rainbow Registered is a nationally recognized safe space accreditation program developed by Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), Tourism HR Canada and their partners, with the aid of the Federal government, that recognizes Canadian businesses and organizations that are LGBT+ inclusive.
4VI is Biosphere Certified by the Responsible Tourism Institute, an international certification body that is affiliated with the World Tourism Organization and a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The Biosphere Certification ensures that 4VI is meaningfully leading and engaging with tourism projects that span the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals focus on inclusive economic growth, social and cultural well-being, and environmental sustainability in the tourism industry on Vancouver Island.
In April 2022, 4VI became a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration. The Glasgow Declaration is an initiative supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization to halve global carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. As part of this initiative, 4VI committed to measuring the carbon footprint of Vancouver Island’s tourism industry and creating a decarbonization plan for our destination.
We are the first major tourism organization in North America to perform a carbon audit and develop a decarbonization plan at this scale. As an organization, we strongly believe that climate action needs to be a top priority; in keeping with the goal of making tourism a force for good on Vancouver Island, we have set a target to cut emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
4VI became a carbon neutral organization in 2023, with 2022 marking the first fiscal year that we measured and reported our carbon emissions.
Our organization has set its reduction target of 20% emissions over its baseline year by 2025. In order to accomplish this task, we are working to reduce our largest emission sources, including staff commuting, travel, and natural gas usage.
We continue to purchase and engage with local carbon offsetting projects that prioritize and implement carbon action on Vancouver Island.