Responsible Tourism - What does it mean?

17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

How to Measure Success in Sustainability

The Thompson Okanagan as a region is very proud to be a Biosphere Certified destination - the first in the Americas! But what does it all mean? More importantly, what does it mean to residents and visitors to the region?

Being a Biosphere Certified destination means that our region has been recognized as meeting all 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Protecting our environmental, social and economic resources is very important to ensure our wonderful tourism experiences are available to future generations. So, with that, we want to celebrate this important recognition, and introduce you to the 17 goals!

Below each goal is outlined with ideas on how you can participate in your community and surrounding area in moving each goal forward.

1: No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Poverty is not inevitable, but it takes work to combat it. The fight can be a bit abstract, but here are a few ways to help:

The biggest impact for change in the long term through a higher minimum wage, more jobs, and more accessible childcare and housing - all things that need to be addressed at the provincial and federal levels.

2: Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

It may seem obvious, but it’s still important - donate to food banks. It’s easy and makes a huge difference. You can donate non-perishable food items to your local food bank, volunteer, or follow the lead of Great Estates Okanagan! They dedicate a plot of land every year to the production of produce, that’s later donated to the food bank. They’ve donated over 700 pounds in 2018 so far!

3: Good Health & Wellbeing: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Hit up Myra Canyon Bike Rentals for a beautiful, accessible ride on the Myra Trestles. The flat trail offers complete accessibility for all ages and mobility levels and boasts some of the best views in the entire region.

4: Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

The Thompson Okanagan is blessed with quality educators and world-renowned post-secondary education facilities like UBC-Okanagan, TRU, and the innovative Okanagan College. If you grew up in the region or are attending post-secondary here, contact an old teacher or professor and let them know the impact they had on you! If you have children attending school here, thank their teachers for their hard work! A bit of thanks goes a long way!

5: Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

If you’re a woman in business, we encourage you to join Kelowna Women In Business, a supportive and collaborative community. For those who aren’t, but want to support gender equality, you can keep your eyes peeled for The Woman’s Fair and the Run for Women events. Additionally, you can always donate money, time, clothing, food, and household items to the Kelowna Women’s Shelter. Finally, just speak up! All it takes is one voice to let people know they are valued. Misogyny and sexism have no place in our region, our province and our country, so let’s speak out against it.

6: Clean Water & Sanitation: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

If there’s one thing our region is known for, its the enjoyment of our beaches and lakes. But believe it or not, what you do to protect yourself from the sun may be harming our lakes. That’s right, many sunscreens contain chemicals that harm our local environment, affect the cleanliness of the lakes, and in turn our drinking water and the many animals of the water, land and air. Be sure to check out our blog post on Lake-Friendly Sunscreens, many which are carried in a number of stores across our entire region.

7:  Affordable & Clean Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Whether for fun or for transportation, we encourage you to bike, walk, or take public transit. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group. If you need to take a car, check out CurrentTaxi or PowerTrips, both who offer electric cars. If you live in an urban area, you could give carsharing a chance, like OGO Carshare, Zippo Cars or Modo!

8: Decent Work & Economic Growth: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Support local! Such an easy concept, but often it’s difficult to go to a few local shops rather than one big box store to get everything at once. But supporting a local shop, whether for food, clothing, or anything else, ensures the money is going back into the community rather than a corporate office on the other side of the country (or a different country altogether). Not sure where to start? Small Shop, an event in downtown Kelowna designed to support small businesses that happens annually. Also, keep your eye on the Little Black Book, the perfect local gift guide for Christmas!

9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Although it isn’t immediately obvious, the Thompson Okanagan is a hotbed for innovative technology. Looking to get involved? Check out Accelerate Okanagan, the region’s best way to get connected to companies, programs, or people. Are you hiring a contractor or trades team to get some housework done? Be sure to ask them if they practice sustainability! Let them know what’s important to you.

10: Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries

One incredible way our region continues to reduce inequalities is by making our region accessible to everyone. Peterson Creek Nature Park is set for a grand opening in late October after completing the paving for their brand new multi-use pathway. The 1.7km path connects Sahali to downtown Kamloops (Tk'emlups), and due to it being paved and relatively flat, it is accessible to the elderly and those in wheelchairs.

11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

If you spent any time in downtown Kelowna (Kilawna) this summer, you would’ve noticed the newest addition to the region: DropBike. Sustainable, affordable and accessible, DropBike is the newest way to get around the downtown region. Costing just $1 per hour and only requiring your smartphone, this new company prides itself on their sustainable approach to transportation. In a recent poll run by KelownaNow, the response was an overwhelming 92% of people wanting the program to continue in Kelowna, with over 1.2 thousand votes counted. Want to visit a new restaurant, but it’s just a bit too far for your tired feet? Just grab a DropBike and you’ll be there in minutes.

12: Responsible Consumption & Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Head to a Farmer’s Market in the Thompson Okanagan and enjoy some locally grown produce! Try to buy funny fruit—many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or colour are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruits, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste. Additionally, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has a Nutrition Coupon Program Fund, which provides an opportunity for those who are facing economic barriers buying fresh, locally grown food from BC farmers in their own community. Last year, this program had a positive impact on over 10,000 British Columbians, and they’re hoping to beat that number this year, with your help! The 900 farmers across our province that receive these coupons benefit directly, dollar for dollar, with each coupon redeemed, ensuring a sustainable practice. You can donate towards this program here:

13: Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Ever see those giant turbines along the Coquihalla Connector? Okanagan Wind is the first of its kind in the Okanagan region, built on Crown land in partnership with Westbank First Nations, Penticton Indian Band and Upper Nicola Band. These ten turbines total 30 megawatts of installed renewable energy, which is sold to BC Hydro, thereby helping to green the province’s electricity grid. These facilities generate around 100,000 megawatts of electricity every year; enough to power 9,000 homes.

14: Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Check out Codfathers and The Table Cafe or Okanagan Select for sustainably sourced fish and seafood, much of it organic. Make sure whenever you go to a restaurant and are ordering seafood, always ask: “Do you serve sustainable seafood?” Let your favourite businesses know that ocean-friendly seafood is important to you!

15: Life on Land: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is a one-of-a-kind experience right here in the Thompson Okanagan, offering education and insight into the only desert Canada has to offer. The protection of this unique land is paramount, and being educated is the first step. Learn about the lands, the legends, and the people who have always called this place home. They boast 1,600 acres of desert conservation and education where you can discover the animals and plants unique to the area and can come face-to-face with a rattlesnake (in a safe environment). A unique experience, an endangered region, and a quality education await at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.

16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

Get out there and vote. Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and the local community. Vote for those who are just, peaceful and inclusive - It’s up to you! We dare you to vote and tell your friends to vote too.

17: Partnerships for the Goals: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

This is where we ask you for a commitment. The Thompson Okanagan region and many businesses within the region have committed to these 17 goals, and we’re inviting you to join! Make the commitment as a family, or on your own, to care about the earth, those around you and yourself. Additionally, let your favourite restaurants and stores know that you value sustainability. If you’re eating fish at a restaurant, ask the server if it is Oceanwise. If you’re grocery shopping, bring your own reusable bags. We all can only do a little by ourselves, but if everyone does a little, it adds up to a lot in no time!



Alastair Heinrichs is a Creative Writing student from UBC-Okanagan. Alastair loves encouraging people to discover more about our region, whether that’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, the local food and craft beer scene or secret campgrounds.

IG @alastair.heinrichs