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What Victoria, British Columbia’s Urban Biosphere Certification Means for Travelers


Victoria, British Columbia has earned the rare and prestigious distinction of becoming the first urban destination in the United States or Canada to earn biosphere certification.

The certification, awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), recognizes destinations around the world that have made a demonstrated commitment to the principles of environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, equity, and social responsibility.

Destination Greater Victoria has been engaged in an ongoing journey to be a leader in sustainable tourism among Destination Management Organizations. In 2021, that effort included the impressive feat of being certified by the organization Ostrom Climate as the first major destination organization in North America to be fully carbon neutral.

In 2022, Greater Victoria took yet another bold step, becoming the first to be Climate Positive, which means going above and beyond simply achieving net-zero carbon emissions to further create an environmental benefit as a destination by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The destination is still not done with its efforts on the environmental and sustainable front either. It continues to work to reduce its carbon footprint and implement sustainability best practices through its ongoing relationship with the well-known corporate sustainability management firm Synergy Enterprises.

As for the newly awarded biosphere certification, it is said to be the most highly sought sustainability seal of approval due to its credibility the world over. Notably, the certification also aligns with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the World Charter for Sustainable Tourism +20 and the COP21 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

But what does it all mean for travelers?

For those who are looking to support sustainable destinations with their vacation dollars, the biosphere status is further proof of Victoria’s dedication to this issue and one of many reasons to decide to visit.

“The value of certification is tremendous as travelers and meeting planners are increasingly considering factors like local quality of life, environmental impacts, and how a destination, its DMO and its tourism sector affects and serves local communities when making decisions about where to travel or locate a conference,” Destination Greater Victoria said in a statement.

Obtaining the certification involves rigorous and collaborative assessment of the destination and the region in light of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, among other review measures.

“Given the tourism sector’s size and potential impact, it’s important to recognize we have an obligation to operate in a way that respects the environment, as well as the social and cultural fabric of our communities,” said Paul Nurse, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “That’s why DGV has always been committed to ongoing innovation in destination marketing and management.”

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