Biosphere Certification
for Destinations

Optimise the sustainability management
of an entire territory. Involve businesses,
tourists and citizens.

What is Biosphere Certification for destinations?

An integral system of management and positioning as a sustainable destination, offering necessary services of accompaniment and advice for continuous improvement towards the "Horizon 2030" according to the sustainability criteria of the United Nations, and its valuation by citizens and tourists.

The United Nations identified 17 SDGs through the 2030 Agenda, which are further developed into 169 concrete targets. To achieve these goals, a series of monitoring indicators were identified, which countries must analyse annually to determine whether the national and global goals are being achieved. The SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network), a United Nations entity founded by Kofi Annan, collects these indicators. 

The Responsible Tourism Institute, in collaboration with the Spanish antenna SDSN-Spain (REDS), has developed the Biosphere methodology for destinations with a battery of indicators, activities and actions connected to each of the Sustainable Development Goals, principles and targets of the United Nation. This methodology measures and evaluates the contribution of the territory and its tourism model to its sustainability. It enables territorial and tourism managers (administrations / DMOs) to compile a database of their initiatives, strategies and results in all matters related to the sustainability of the destination. Now managers can monitor their indicators annually and  improve and compensate the results with an action plan at a socio-cultural, environmental, governance, economic, innovation, transparency, and quality level.

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Biosphere for destinations: administrations and DMOs


Specific, explicit and objectively verifiable measures, developed with the SDSN-Spain based on the 232 UN indicators, which make it possible to measure and verify progress in achieving the 169 targets based on the actions and activities aligned with the 17 SDGs. The result expresses an assessment that compares actual data with maximum, minimum and intermediate thresholds.


69 requirements developed from the 17 SDGs, the UN indicators and the SDSN indicators, which highlight what to do to achieve the 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda, grouping a number of interrelated activities. This constitutes the Biosphere standard, developed jointly with SDSN-Spain.


A specific task that is possible and feasible to carry out, demonstrating the fulfilment of the action in which they are framed. There is a base of more than 400 and the community itself is expanding them, after validation by the technical committee.

Initial diagnosis of the territory

The sustainability of the territory is determined with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals, with indicators and results on a standardised scale, with a traffic light classification, in accordance with the 169 United Nations targets. All the information is compiled digitally, on a single platform, for easier and more accessible management!

Analysis and Action Plan by SDGs

In parallel, the contribution of tourism to the degree of sustainability of the destination is analysed for each of the 17 SDGs. The influence of this on the sustainable management of the territory is checked and juxtaposed with the values of the initial diagnosis, establishing the degree of contribution, detecting challenges and opportunities for improvement, with the design of an action plan with actions and indications of priorities.

International certification

With the result of the diagnosis, the team of external auditors will carry out a verification audit of the continuous improvement, issuing a final report. Together with the action plan, they are evaluated by the RTI Technical Committee, and with a favourable result, the "CERTIFIED DESTINATION" mark is awarded. All this within the framework of a continuous improvement process, analysed every year by Biosphere.

Involve all stakeholders

To carry out a sustainability management and certification process as a destination, it is essential to understand the term "destination". As seen and developed in the 4 Summits sponsored by UNESCO and UNWTO during 2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, a destination is the accumulation of the following actors: the administration, companies, workers, customers, citizens and visitors. This is the vision from which the Biosphere methodology is applied: the Biosphere Circle.

Involve all companies

Provide access to an unlimited number of companies, giving them the necessary tools and knowledge to develop their own customized corporate sustainability plans, get audited and certified for international recognition of their best practices – all at no cost to the companies! In real-time, you will be able to monitor the participation of all companies and their sustainable progress.

Actual and joint impact

When companies carry out their sustainable practices, which are communicated and participated in by employees and customers, they will be contributing to actions connected to the UN goals. All companies in a destination, together with the good practices carried out by the administration, will contribute directly to the fulfilment of the 169 targets, the 17 SDGs and indicators of the United Nations at the international level, thereby connecting the territory to the global effort.

Communication, benchmarking and positioning tools

Access a range of tools to transparently and effectively communicate the sustainable efforts of businesses or destinations in real-time to citizens and tourist. This allows businesses and destinations to gain recognition for their sustainable initiatives and differentiate themselves in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my destination carry out this process?

The Biosphere methodology for destinations is suitable for territories of all sizes and types, including but not limited to countries, municipalities, regions, associations, districts, and coastal or inland areas. Ask for a consultation with our team of experts and we will create a plan that best suits your needs! Please note that to make your inquiry, you must contact us with an official corporate email address from your destination organization.

What is the price of the process as a destination?

The price of this certification, both for the first year andforannual renewals, depends on thepopulation of your destination, as well as the services you wish to contract (such astraining workshops, process for companies to join the destination's commitment, andadditional communication actions, etc.). *Destinations in countries with a lower Human Development Index are eligible for a discount.

Who can implement the process and request a techno-economic proposal?

The destination certification process must be requested by the institution in charge of destination management (DMO). Any institution competent to request and apply the certification process in the territory, be it a province, a municipality, a city, a town, a village, a network of villages, a group of municipalities, among others, may agree to implement this certification in its tourist destination. Proposals will not be made to external consultants. If you are a technician or competent authority in the territorial and/or tourism management of your destination, contact us through the forms on our website, indicating your corporate email address, position and the destination you wish to consult. Our team will organise a virtual meeting as soon as possible to provide you with more information.

What are the steps to follow in the destination certification process?

Once the technical and economic proposal has been accepted, and the contracthas beenformalised, a Letter of Commitment is signed between the competent authority of the destination and the RTI, informing all stakeholders of the destination of this first step towards sustainability. At the same time, technical work begins with the initial diagnosis and analysis. Once the implementation of the action plan is started, its performance is evaluatedthroughan external third-party audit process, which will determinewhethercertification will be granted based on the contribution of tourismto the sustainability of the destination. Throughout the entire process the destination, the RTI team of professionals accompanies and supports the DMO at all stages of the project. Annually, a review process will be carried out with external third party auditors, to continue guaranteeing the continuous improvement process developed by the destination.