What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

In 2015, the UN set an ambitious 15-year plan to achieve by 2030, which addresses some of the most pressing issues the world is facing.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

There is a strong relationship between the GSTC Criteria and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By uptaking the GSTC Criteria, you are helping to meet the UN SDGs. Economic, environmental and societal dimensions are all addressed by the GSTC Criteria. Organizations and companies looking to contribute to the SDGs will find that the GSTC Criteria and other GSTC-Recognized Standards provide effective tools to help them rise to the challenge.

See each corresponding criterion of the GSTC Criteria and SDGs

Below you will find the corresponding SDGs to each criterion of the GSTC Destination Criteria.

Also available is a list of each corresponding criterion (GSTC Destination Criteria) to each SDG.

A1 Sustainable destination strategy

The destination has established and is implementing a multi-year destination strategy that is publicly available, is suited to its scale; that considers environmental, economic, social, cultural, quality, health, and safety, and aesthetic issues; and was developed with public participation.



A2 Destination management organization

The destination has an effective organization, department, group, or committee responsible for a coordinated approach to sustainable tourism, with involvement by the private sector and public sector. This group is suited to the size and scale of the destination, and has defined responsibilities, oversight, and implementation capability for the management of environmental, economic, social, and cultural issues. This group’s activities are appropriately funded.



A3 Monitoring

The destination has a system to monitor, publicly report, and respond to environmental, economic, social, cultural, tourism, and human rights issues. The monitoring system is reviewed and evaluated periodically.



A4 Tourism seasonality management

The destination dedicates resources to mitigate seasonal variability of tourism where appropriate, working to balance the needs of the local economy, community, cultures and environment, to identify year-round tourism opportunities.



A5 Climate change adaptation

The destination has a system to identify risks and opportunities associated with climate change. This system encourages climate change adaptation strategies for development, siting, design, and management of facilities. The system contributes to the sustainability and resilience of the destination and to public education on climate for both residents and tourists.




A6 Inventory of tourism assets and attractions

The destination has an up-to-date, publicly available inventory and assessment of its tourism assets and attractions, including natural and cultural sites.




A7 Planning Regulations

The destination has planning guidelines, regulations and/or policies that require environmental, economic, and social impact assessment and integrate sustainable land use, design, construction, and demolition. The guidelines, regulations and/or policies are designed to protect natural and cultural resources, were created with local inputs from the public and a thorough review process, are publicly communicated, and are enforced.



A8 Access for all

Where appropriate, sites and facilities, including those of natural and cultural importance, are accessible to all, including persons with disabilities and others who have specific access requirements. Where such sites and facilities are not immediately accessible, access is afforded through the design and implementation of solutions that take into account both the integrity of the site and such reasonable accommodations for persons with access requirements as can be achieved.




A9 Property acquisitions

Laws and regulations regarding property acquisitions exist, are enforced, comply with communal and indigenous rights, ensure public consultation, and do not authorize resettlement without prior informed consent and/or reasonable compensation.




A10 Visitor satisfaction

The destination has a system to monitor and publicly report visitor satisfaction, and, if necessary, to take action to improve visitor satisfaction.




A11 Sustainability standards

The destination has a system to promote sustainability standards for enterprises consistent with the GSTC Criteria. The destination makes publicly available a list of sustainability certified or verified enterprises.




A12 Safety and security

The destination has a system to monitor, prevent, publicly report, and respond to crime, safety, and health hazards.



A13 Crisis and emergency management

The destination has a crisis and emergency response plan that is appropriate to the destination. Key elements are communicated to residents, visitors, and enterprises. The plan establishes procedures and provides resources and training for staff, visitors, and residents, and is updated on a regular basis.




A14 Promotion

Promotion is accurate with regard to the destination and its products, services, and sustainability claims. The promotional messages treat local communities and tourists authentically and respectfully.

B1 Economic monitoring

The direct and indirect economic contribution of tourism to the destination’s economy is monitored and publicly reported at least annually. To the extent feasible, this should include visitor expenditure, revenue per available room, employment and investment data.


B2 Local career opportunities

The destination’s enterprises provide equal employment, training opportunities, occupational safety, and fair wages for all.


B3 Public participation

The destination has a system that encourages public participation in destination planning and decision making on an ongoing basis.


B4 Local community opinion

Local communities’ aspirations, concerns, and satisfaction with destination management are regularly monitored, recorded and publicly reported in a timely manner.

B5 Local access

The destination monitors, protects, and when necessary rehabilitates or restores local community access to natural and cultural sites.


B6 Tourism awareness and education

The destination provides regular programs to affected communities to enhance their understanding of the opportunities and challenges of tourism, and the importance of sustainability.


B7 Preventing exploitation

The destination has laws and established practices to prevent commercial, sexual, or any other form of exploitation and harassment of anyone, particularly of children, adolescents, women, and minorities. The laws and established practices are publicly communicated.


B8 Support for community

The destination has a system to enable and encourage enterprises, visitors, and the public to contribute to community and sustainability initiatives.


B9 Supporting local entrepreneurs and fair trade

The destination has a system that supports local and small and medium-sized enterprises, and promotes and develops local sustainable products and fair trade principles that are based on the area’s nature and culture. These may include food and beverages, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.


C1: Attraction Protection

The destination has a policy and system to evaluate, rehabilitate, and conserve natural and cultural sites, including built heritage (historic and archaeological) and rural and urban scenic views.


C2: Visitor Management

The destination has a visitor management system for attraction sites that includes measures to preserve, protect, and enhance natural and cultural assets.


C3: Visitor Behavior

The destination has published and provided guidelines for proper visitor behavior at sensitive sites. Such guidelines are designed to minimize adverse impacts on sensitive sites and strengthen positive visitor behaviors.


C4: Cultural Heritage Protection

The destination has laws governing the proper sale, trade, display, or gifting of historical and archaeological artifacts.


C5: Site Interpretation

Accurate interpretive information is provided at natural and cultural sites. The information is culturally appropriate, developed with community collaboration, and communicated in languages pertinent to visitors.


C6: Intellectual Property

The destination has a system to contribute to the protection and preservation of intellectual property rights of communities and individuals.

D1: Environmental Risks

The destination has identified environmental risks and has a system in place to address them.


D2: Protection of Sensitive Environments

The destination has a system to monitor the environmental impact of tourism, conserve habitats, species, and ecosystems, and prevent the introduction of invasive species.


D3: Wildlife Protection

The destination has a system to ensure compliance with local, national, and international laws and standards for the harvest or capture, display, and sale of wildlife (including plants and animals).


D4: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, minimize, publicly report, and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions from all aspects of their operation (including emissions from service providers).


D5: Energy Conservation

The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report energy consumption, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.


D6: Water Management

The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to measure, monitor, reduce, and publicly report water usage.


D7: Water Security

The destination has a system to monitor its water resources to ensure that use by enterprises is compatible with the water requirements of the destination community.


D8: Water Quality

The destination has a system to monitor drinking and recreational water quality using quality standards. The monitoring results are publicly available, and the destination has a system to respond in a timely manner to water quality issues.


D9: Wastewater

The destination has clear and enforced guidelines in place for the siting, maintenance and testing of discharge from septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems, and ensures wastes are properly treated and reused or released safely with minimal adverse effects to the local population and the environment.


D10: Solid Waste Reduction

The destination has a system to encourage enterprises to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste. Any residual solid waste that is not reused or recycled is disposed of safely and sustainably.


D11: Light and Noise Pollution

The destination has guidelines and regulations to minimize light and noise pollution. The destination encourages enterprises to follow these guidelines and regulations.


D12: Low-Impact Transportation

The destination has a system to increase the use of low impact transportation, including public transportation and active transportation (e.g., walking and cycling).