Swedish European Capital of Culture joins the EarthCheck Sustainable Destinations program

With world-class museums and universities, Umeå is the cultural capital of northern Sweden - and elected the European Capital of Culture in 2014 – with magnificent wilderness on its doorstep. Umeå is also a part of the extensive northern Sami landscape Sápmi.

Located near the northeast coast of Sweden, Umeå was founded in 1622 by Swedish King Gustav II Adolf. Sami culture is an integral part of Umeå as it is a Sami place and a part of Sápmi. Sami people are the oldest indigenous ethnic group in Europe. The history of Umeå is interlocked with the Sami history. It has shaped and continues to shape the city and Umeå’s identity as a multicultural society. Today Umeå is one of Sweden's and Europe's fastest-growing cities – with a population of 200,000 on track by 2050 (today, the number stands at around 130,000). Umeå is planning for a sustainable smart city development where ecological, economic, social and cultural perspectives shall unite.

With easy access to the coast and mountains and with deep forest on its doorstep, Umeå is a nature lover's dream destination. The climate is subarctic, defined by four distinctive seasons, with proper winters and reasonably short but pleasant summers – complete with the midnight sun.

"Our small city of Umeå in northern Sweden is on a mission. Always striving to be a frontrunner, whether it comes to innovation, gender equality, trust or sustainable development." Said Gabriella Hed Vall, Manager Events & Meetings at Visit Umeå

"We have been working hard the last few years towards a more regenerative and sustainable tourism industry. By joining EarthCheck, we hope to get the best support from the latest technology and human expertise to further this mission. We aim to push boundaries, develop new and long-lasting work processes and become the best destination we can."

With the overwhelming interest in nature-based tourism and increased demand for more sustainable travel, the Swedish tourism industry has an opportunity to promote and encourage responsible tourism. This shift to “values-based tourism” is reflected through visitors and residents alike seeking assurance that destinations have a genuine commitment to environmental, social and cultural sustainability. With millennials expected to account for 50% of travel spend by 2026, a new generation of conscious travellers has emerged, and they are eager to embrace authentic and responsible travel.

EarthCheck's partner in Sweden and Founder of Fair Travel, Mr Jeppe Klockareson, said Sweden is well placed to seize the momentum "On October 18th 2021, Sweden presented its vision, to be the world's most sustainable and attractive destination by 2030. For this vision to become a reality, we need commitment, dedication, cooperation, capacity and hard work to put a solid foundation in place. Umeå knows this, and they're now showcasing how Sweden together with global certification program from a well-renowned body gets a proper and reliable method to reach its ambition. This process started a long time ago for Umeå and the region of Västerbotten. They've worked hard to build a strong foundation. They are now ready to embark on the next step of their journey with sustainability by going for the internationally recognised EarthCheck Destination certification. Joining Järvsö, I wish them the best of luck, and I'm sure they will reach their goal. Even more so, they’ll be a role model in Sweden and Scandinavia by showcasing how tourism can strive to reach the global sustainable development goals and Agenda 2030. I hope and believe that more will follow."

EarthCheck CEO and Founder Stewart Moore says that “As the global economy starts to open up again post COVID it provides a rare opportunity to reset and reimagine how our destinations can better reflect community values and empower operators to be more adaptive and resilient.“

“The global call to action of ‘Build it Back Better’ has now moved to ‘Build it Forward Better’.”

Destinations can now play a lead role in helping to plan for climate change, waste, energy and water reduction and renewable resource management. The EarthCheck Destinations program provides a holistic approach to destination management bringing together the public and private sectors to measure and monitor their environmental and social footprint and encouraging cross sector collaboration.

"Importantly, one of the key outcomes of a sustainable destination is a strong resilient tourism industry with dynamic products, services and experience offerings that can meet the needs of the conscious traveller and the community as the destination evolves," continued Moore.

The EarthCheck Sustainable Destinations Program is a worldwide network of destinations that aim to achieve world-leading sustainability outcomes. Supported by the EarthCheck benchmarking, certification and performance improvement system, the platform uses EarthCheck science to tackle environmental and social problems such as climate change, waste reduction and non-renewable resource management.