Development of International Standards

International Standards

CREATING UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES

The GSTC strives to promote sustainable tourism through a common language, and one of its key objectives is to facilitate the adoption and creation of universal principles for sustainable tourism. The standard setting strategy will focus on the management and revision of the current version of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) and the creation or adaptation and distribution of additional criteria, standards and relevant indicators.

Some of the expected uses of the universal principles:

  • Serve as basic guidelines for businesses of all sizes to become more sustainable, and help businesses choose sustainable tourism programs that fulfill these global criteria;
  • Serve as guidance for travel agencies in choosing suppliers and sustainable tourism programs;
  • Help consumers identify sound sustainable tourism programs and businesses;
  • Serve as a common denominator for media to recognize sustainable tourism providers;
  • Help certification and other voluntary programs ensure that their standards meet a broadly-accepted baseline;
  • Offer governmental, non-governmental and private sector programs a starting point for developing sustainable tourism requirements; and
  • Serve as baseline guidelines for education and training bodies such as hotel schools and Universities.

 

ESTABLISHING THE CRITERIA

In 2008, the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC Partnership) - a coalition of more than 50 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles- developed a set of baseline criteria organized around the four pillars of sustainable tourism: effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community; reduction of negative impacts to cultural heritage; and reduction of negative. The Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are the minimum requirements that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.  To develop these criteria, the GSTC Partnership consulted with sustainability experts and the tourism industry and reviewed more than 60 existing certification and voluntary sets of criteria already being implemented around the globe. In all, more than 4,500 criteria were analyzed and the resulting draft criteria received comments from over 2000 stakeholders.  Since the launch of the criteria in October 2008, the GSTC Partnership focused on engaging all tourism stakeholders – from purchasers to suppliers to consumers – to adopt the criteria.

The process for consultation on the development and adaptation of criteria will adhere to the ISEAL code of conduct and follow a multi-stakeholder approach, striving to include a balanced constituency from key industry branches as well as relevant UN agencies, industry associations, selected industry members, academia, and NGOs. 

Click here to read the full report on the criteria consultation process.

OBJECTIVES

Be the standard setting organization for sustainable tourism

The GSTC has a consistent approach to standard setting and is committed to a transparent process based on accepted international standard setting principles from ISO and ISEAL.  The GSTC is currently developing a standard setting manual based on the processes utilized for the development of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, including adequate management of the criteria and the periodic revisions based on broad based consultation.

 

Adapt or create relevant standards for all to tourism industry sectors and destinations

The GSTC will work with destinations and all relevant tourism sectors to ensure the adaptation of the Criteria to their industries.  The process will build on current best practice, and follow international standard setting principles. 

Ensure the standards are understood and adopted by a wide constituency

The GSTC is committed to developing tools and platforms to ensure proper application and implementation of the Criteria by as broad a group as possibly. Additional programs and resources are being developed to facilitate

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