The road to 2032: Queensland destinations work towards globally recognised sustainability certification  

Noosa beach with mountains in the background and a car driving on the sand
Five Queensland destinations have joined the ranks of EarthCheck’s Leading Destinations of the World™ under the Queensland Government’s Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program, and are setting their sights on delivering sustainable action in their communities.

Image Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Five Queensland destinations have joined the ranks of EarthCheck’s Leading Destinations of the World™ under the Queensland Government’s Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program, and are setting their sights on delivering sustainable action in their communities.

As Queensland works towards delivering the world’s first climate positive Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032, the State Government’s Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program is supporting Queensland destinations to achieve globally recognised certification with EarthCheck, the world’s leading certification, consulting and advisory group for sustainable destinations and tourism organisations.  

The program, a key part of the Queensland Government’s Towards Tourism 2032 strategy, provides grant funding to local government authorities and regional and local tourism organisations to support them to become certified as sustainable tourism destinations.  

Brisbane, Etheridge Shire, Moreton Bay, Murweh Shire and Noosa Shire have received funding to support them to join EarthCheck’s Leading Destinations of the World™ program, and most are already in the final stages of earning EarthCheck’s Sustainable Destinations certification. 

Stewart Moore, EarthCheck’s founder and CEO, says the Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program is crucial for leveraging the growth opportunity that the Olympic and Paralympic Games present for Queensland’s sustainable tourism industry.

“The 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games present a unique opportunity to reposition and reshape Queensland’s visitor economy for decades to come,” Mr Moore says, “but the industry must act now to leverage the runway to the Games. 

“This is an opportunity to galvanise the tourism industry, with the support of local communities, to invest in sustainability measures now that will have positive impacts on the environment, the economy and the host community for decades to come.” 

The worldwide leaders 

By joining EarthCheck’s Leading Destinations of the World™ program, grant recipients join a global network of destinations that share a vision and a passion for improved sustainability outcomes. 

The program, which has been in place for over 20 years, provides participating destinations with opportunities to collaborate and work collectively, as well as a framework for these destinations to benchmark their environmental, social and economic performance. 

For the purposes of the program, a destination can be defined by virtually any geographical boundary – it could be a local government or municipal area, such as Country Clare, or a larger tourism region that encompasses multiple local government areas, such as Snæfellsnes in Iceland. 

Once they’ve defined their scope – which includes defining both the geographical boundaries of the destination, and the limits of what’s within their control – participating destinations can work towards receiving EarthCheck’s Sustainable Destinations certification. 

For a destination to be certified, it must monitor, measure and continually improve its: 

  • Energy efficiency, conservation and management 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Air quality protection, noise control and light pollution 
  • Management of freshwater resources 
  • Wastewater management, drainage and streams 
  • Ecosystem conservation and management 
  • Land use planning and development 
  • Transport 
  • Solid waste management 
  • Management of environmentally harmful substances 
  • Cultural and social management 
  • Economic management

EarthCheck’s rigorous, science-backed certification process is verified by independent third-party auditors. Certification assures visitors, who are increasingly interested in sustainable tourism experiences, that participating destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to the ongoing improvement of their sustainable practices.  

Different by nature 

Noosa Shire looks set to become the first of the five destinations funded under the Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program to achieve EarthCheck certification – a perfect fit for a destination that prides itself on its pristine environment and natural beauty. 

Noosa vista
Image Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Noosa Council Acting CEO Larry Sengstock says the program aligns with the values of the Noosa community. 

“As a council and a world-leading destination, we are all accountable for the impact we have on the environment around us,” he says. “This program is an important part of our broader commitment to sustainability, and reinforces our commitment to ongoing improvement of sustainable practices and environment protection.”

The region has a strong history of environmental protection led by the local community, with 46 per cent of the Shire currently protected under conservation. A UNESCO recognised Biosphere Reserve, Noosa Shire is home to the most visited National Park in Australia, a world surfing reserve, and one of only two everglade systems in the world. 

Noosa Council is currently in the process of co-designing a Destination Management Plan with its community, strengthened by a focus – through its Smart Biosphere Economic Development Strategy – on developing a high value Green Economy. 

By demonstrating environmental leadership to the tourism industry across other local businesses and the community, Mr Sengstock says the Council is promoting the long-term uptake of practical solutions that will help Noosa – and Queensland – to achieve net zero emissions. 

“As we continue to develop a community-led Destination Management Plan for our Shire, it’s important we take tangible steps to improve sustainable practices and continue to protect our environment,” he says. 

“We look forward to working closely with EarthCheck and other local businesses to improve energy and waste emissions and to measure the environmental performance of Noosa as a destination.” 

Lynne Banford, Noosa Council’s Manager, Economic Development and Destination Management, says the EarthCheck program and its objectives align completely with the values of the Noosa community, and will enhance the story of the Shire. 

“The wider Noosa community prides itself on the Shire’s environmental values and the surrounding pristine natural environment we all enjoy,” she says. “That’s what makes it one of the Leading Destinations of the World™.

“Success in the program can assist in elevating the Noosa brand across all sectors of the economy, and ultimately becomes a part of how we promote Noosa as a leader in sustainability and environmental best practices within the tourism sector.” 

In the long run, EarthCheck’s Stewart Moore says the Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program is helping to put Queensland on the right track for 2032 – but there’s still plenty of work to be done. 

“This is just the beginning,” he says. “But the more Queensland destinations become part of certification programs like EarthCheck, then the more knowledge and ideas can be shared throughout the state, and the stronger our position will be – not just in the lead-up to the Olympics, but as we build the sustainability framework of the future.” 

Learn more about EarthCheck’s Leading Destinations of the World™


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