Status of initiative: N/a
Description/achievement of initiative

Sustainable tourism works to protect the environment and the rights and livelihoods of local communities. Tourism businesses including hotels, lodges, and tour operators -- can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by meeting the standards for social and environmental practices that have been created by leading national and international certification programs. These objective, third-party organizations offer an authoritative seal of approval to those businesses meeting standards that conserve biodiversity and promote the well-being of workers and communities. There are more than 50 certification programs worldwide that have created national and international standards for sustainable tourism and ecotourism, and more are being created every year. However, key questions arise about them:

How can the public tell which of these programs are credible

How can tourism businesses choose which sets of standards will have legitimacy

Which programs can show that they are making a difference that certified tourism businesses have tangible impacts on workers, communities, and the environment and that businesses benefit from being certified

And how can tourists be confident that the programs audit, certify, and provide continuous monitoring of those businesses that are serious about social and environmental sustainability and accountability.

In response to these challenges, a coalition of tourism industry associations, nonprofit civil society organizations (NGOs), private foundations, and U.N. and government agencies has been working to create a global Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council (STSC) -- an umbrella organization that would set universal minimum standards for certification programs and accredit those that meet them. This effort is currently being led by a board of directors that includes 17 organizations including representatives from international NGOs and the private sector and a Technical and Scientific Council that with participation of the United Nations Environment Program, the UN World Tourism Organization, and Rainforest Alliance, the international conservation organization that has provided technical and administrative leadership for the effort since 2001.

Implementation methodologies

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure


Government of Mexico - SEMARNAT: Subsecretaría de Fomento y Normatividad Ambiental
Government of Guatemala - INGUAT: Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo
Government of Mexico - SEMARNAT: Instituto Nacional de Ecologia
Government of Netherlands - SNV: Netherlands Development Organization - Asia
Government of Netherlands - SNV: Netherlands Development Organization - Eastern and Southern Africa
Government of Peru - Secretaría Arequipa de la OGD del Corredor Turístico del Sur Peruano

Major Groups:
Rainforest Alliance (United States of America)
IRCAM Consultora Ambiental (Argentina)
Universidad Nacional de Rosario - Facultad de Ciencias Economicas y Estadisticas. (Argentina)
EC3 Global (Managers of the Green Globe Programme in the Asia Pacific Region) (Australia)
ABETA: Associação Brasileira das Empresas de Turismo de Aventura (Brazil)
HB Thomas Travel (Brazil)
Instituto EcoBrasil (Brazil)
MERCOTUR: Soluções Inteligentes para o Turismo Sustentável (Brazil)
ECODESTA: Centro para el Desarrollo del Ecoturismo y el Turismo Sostenible de Colombia (Colombia)
ECEAT: European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism (Czech Republic)
Fundación Taiguey: Tecnologías apropiadas y desarrollo comunitario (Dominican Republic)
Conservacion y Desarrollo (Ecuador)
SalvaNATURA: Fundación Ecológica de El Salvador (El Salvador)
ASR: Alliance of Independent Travel Traders (Germany)
ECOTRANS: European Network for Sustainable Tourism Development (Germany)
FEE: Fundation for Environmental Education (Germany)
Global Nature Fund ? International Living Lakes Network (Germany)
KATE: Centre for Environment & Development (Germany)
VISIT: Voluntary Initiative for Sustainability in Tourism (Germany)
Alianza Verde (Guatemala)
FUNDESA: Fundacion para el Desarrollo de Guatemala (Guatemala)
ICADE: Instituto para la Cooperacion y Autodesarrollo (Honduras)
Our Native Village Eco Resort (India)
SWISO Certification Pvt. Ltd., (India)
Lega Ambiente Turismo Italia (Italy)
Ecotourism Kenya (Kenya)
Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit, Unidad Académica de Turismo (Mexico)
ANTUR: Asociación Nicaragüense de Turismo Receptiva (Nicaragua)
CANTUR: Cámara Nicaragüense de la Micro, Pequeña y Mediana Empresa (Nicaragua)
HOPEN: Asociación de Pequeños Hoteles de Nicaragua) (Nicaragua)
Montecristo River Lodge (Nicaragua)
BIOCOMERCIO - TURISBIO: Alianza Peruana para el Turismo Rural como Servicio (Peru)
EL TALLER: Asociación de Promoción y Desarrollo (Peru)
Nature Seychelles (Seychelles)
FTTSA: Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (South Africa)
ITR: Instituto de Turismo Responsable (Spain)
Green Leaf Foundation of Thailand (Thailand)
CREST: Center for Responsible Travel (United States of America)
Colibri Consulting -- Certification for Sustainable Development (United States of America)
Conservation International (United States of America)
Enclave Rising International Development Company (United States of America)
Environmental Defense Fund (United States of America)
SEDI: Coconino County Sustainable Economic Development Initiative (United States of America)
Sabre Holdings ( (United States of America)
Sustainable Travel International (United States of America)
TIES:The International Ecotourism Society (United States of America)
USTOA: United States Tour Operators Association (United States of America)
World Wildlife Fund - US (United States of America)
Youth Empowerment Alliance (United States of America)
EcoTours Uruguay (Uruguay)
OCC: Organización para la Conservación de Cetáceos - Uruguay (Uruguay)
VIDA SILVESTRE: Sociedad Uruguay para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (Uruguay)

UN System:
United Nations Environment Program - DTIE (France)
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Canada)
United Nations World Tourism Organization (Spain)

Other intergovernmental organizations:
International Finance Corporation (United States of America)

Sustainable Development Goals and targets
Resources devoted to implementation
This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
Date of completion: 2012-02-01
Operating in countries
Partner connections
Contact information/focal point(s)

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