I attended the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association Summit in November where I learned that the Thompson Okanagan had just been awarded the International Biosphere Certification. They are the first in the Americas to earn this designation. If you are like me, you are wondering what this actually means. Well, this is a certification from the International Responsible Tourism Institute that recognizes that the Thompson Okanagan has met the criteria stipulated from the United Nations and Paris Agreement on climate change. Ultimately they have met all 137 benchmarks set out to maintain environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
The International Biosphere Certification was established in 1995 at the Conference for sustainable tourism. They incorporated the 17 UN’s sustainable development goals along with the main guidelines from the Paris Climate Summit. Regions who meet the criteria are dedicated to monitoring and maintaining such areas as labour standards, clean energy and water use, human rights and social justice, gender equality, health and poverty standards and sustainable communities.
Currently there are only 16 regions in the world that hold this Certification with 9 more in the process. I find it surprising that the Thompson Okanagan is the only region in North America to have undertaken this process. Having this platform to demonstrate responsible tourism will hopefully not only draw people to our beautiful area but also be a leader in facilitating similar goals for the rest of Canada and North America.
TOTA Biosphere Designation Announcement 2017
(2017). Retrieved from Biosphere Responsible Tourism: www.biospheretourism.com