+25 Years
of experience

Building sustainable models
and recognizing good practices

About Biosphere

Biosphere is the international sustainability management and recognition system of the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI). The working standard of the Biosphere system is the only methodology in the world created as a result of the 4 Summits sponsored by UNESCO and the UNWTO during the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, to work on the basis of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs), and with indicators developed jointly with SDSN-Spain.

Born in 1995 after the first World Charter for Sustainable Tourism, with a MoU with UNESCO and proud founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the RTI has the mission to transfer the objectives universally agreed in the international Summits and Charters to all societies and stakeholders: administrations, public and private institutions and companies, citizens and visitors.

The Biosphere system helps the different stakeholders to define, organise and make their sustainable objectives and priorities visible, providing the information, knowledge and tools necessary to make and implement more sustainable decisions, connected to the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs.

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Our journey developing the culture of sustainability

Since our creation in 1995, we have grown and developed our Biosphere methodology in line with the guidelines, principles and objectives that have been established internationally. Since 1997, we have been the world's first certification with the necessary criteria to recognise sustainability in the hotel industry.

During the first decade of the 21st century, we managed to successfully apply a methodology for management and recognition of sustainability in destinations, with our Biosphere standard being the precedent for the creation of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) in 2010. Two years later, we continued to develop our methodology to make it the first system in the world to address socio-cultural issues in the sustainability of companies and destinations. Thus, a few months after the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, Biosphere awarded the world's first certification at destination level.

In recent years, based on the new sustainability guidelines adopted by the United Nations and the other international bodies competent in the field, the commonly known Horizon 2030 with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs) and 169 global targets, we redesigned the methodology to adapt it to this standardised language. We managed to create the current working system, Biosphere Sustainable, which is the result of more than 25 years of work, thousands of success stories and best practices around the world, In this way, since 2017, Biosphere has become the first and only sustainability certification system worldwide aligned with the 2030 Agenda, its 169 goals and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the only methodology created as a result of the 4 Summits sponsored by UNESCO and UNWTO, and the only system that enables the connection between destinations, companies, citizens and tourists, within the 17 SDGs and UN targets.

Timeline Biosphere EN

Biosphere Circle = Integral Action

At Biosphere we are aware of the need to pave the way towards sustainability from all areas of action, involving all stakeholders in a sustainable lifestyle. This is what we call the Biosphere Circle, an overall vision that generates synergies and virtuous circles of sustainability.

Destinations, territorial management, DMOs

Private and Public Companies of any type

Citizens, local resident population

Consumers, employees, tourists


A system created by the RTI, with indicators developed jointly with SDSN-Spain

BIOSPHERE© certification is awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), an independent body created in 1995 with the aim of promoting sustainable development actions and programmes in tourism destinations and companies. With more than 25 years of experience in the sector, the RTI was created with the support of UNESCO through a Memorandum of Understanding that has enabled the development of activities, projects and cooperation events between the two organisations. It is also a founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

A pioneer in the sector, Biosphere was the first sustainability certification system to incorporate social and cultural issues (1998), the first system able to recognise and value the sustainable efforts of a destination worldwide (2009) and the first to develop an online certification process (2015). Since 2017, the Responsible Tourism Institute's system has been chosen as the best sustainability certification tool, constituting the only methodology to align the practices of destinations and companies jointly and with the 2030 Agenda, its 169 goals and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Responsible Tourism Institute

Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Spain

The measurement of the contribution of the work demonstrated through Biosphere to the 169 goals and 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda is possible thanks to the indicators that have been developed jointly by the ITR and REDS, the Spanish branch of the Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN). This entity, created in 2012 under the auspices of former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is the reference network that brings together universities, public administrations, companies and civil society to achieve the SDGs, organised by national and regional networks. Specifically, it is the official network for the preparation of the annual sustainability reports and mobilises global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Spain

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