Norway's National Approach to Sustainable Measurement: Eco Lighthouse Certification

This panel focused on the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation Certification used for enterpirses seeking to document their environmental efforts.

During the session we uncovered how destinations can work towards becoming more sustainable through alternative certification methods, all with the help of Magnus Brekke Nygaard, Sustainability Project Manager at Visit Bergen; Kristin Oishi, Sustainability Project Manager at VisitOSLO; and Ann-Kristin Ytreberg, Eco-Lighthouse CEO & General Manager.

This panel focused on the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation Certification, Norway's most widely used certification scheme for enterprises seeking to document their environmental efforts and demonstrate social responsibility. During the session we uncovered how destinations can work towards becoming more sustainable through alternative certification methods, all with the help of Magnus Brekke Nygaard, Sustainability Project Manager at Visit Bergen; Kristin Oishi, Sustainability Project Manager at VisitOSLO; and Ann-Kristin Ytreberg, Eco-Lighthouse CEO & General Manager.

The session started with Ann-Kristin providing an overview of the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation, which is a recognised and effective tool for certification and environmental management that is helping to keep the competitive edge. She mentioned they take real and relevant action by: offering guidance on taking specific actions, providing continuous improvement and work, inform businesses about their direct and indirect impact, help businesses with their measurement and reporting but also to adopt digitalisation and adapt their systems. Through this, their purpose is to create a culture for making opportunities, spark business ideas and, ultimately, make an impact.

Ann-Kristin then dived into the criteria used to measure direct impact, which considers waste, transport, procurement, energy and the working environment. In order to provide an example, she explained that within the waste criteria, food waste is looked at from the perspective of how to measure it and how to reduce it. She highlighted that in order to adapt to each business they use a mix of pre-existing and tailor-made indicators, which ensures the involvement in the culture and guarantees that these become part of the business' framework.

To wrap-up her introduction to the certification, Eco-Lighthouse's CEO highlighted that they focus on making the process inexpensive and, thus, easy so it becomes fundamental for businesses.

Nick jumped into the discussion and sparked a conversation around the difference between the Eco-Lighthouse Certification and that from the Global Tourism Sustainable Council (GTSC). Ann-Kristin emphasised that there are a variety of programmes worldwide, and that for that reason the most important part of their business model is to spark action, not to raise financial benefits. She acknowledged the existence of competition within this sector and stated that this can be good, but only as long as it doesn't confuse businesses and the repetition of systems is avoided for efficiency purposes. She highlighted that the purpose of the certification system is to avoid greenwashing.

When the destinations were asked about how to encourage improvement and drive the the industry to become more sustainable, both agreed on the importance of addressing both the heart and the head when discussing sustainability. They stated that the creation of a vision for long-lasting business, while making them understand that the adoption of sustainability is key to remain in the market, is of outmost importance for the sake of both businesses and consumers.

Magnus, from Visit Bergen, gave us an insight during the session to their certification process, mentioning that for them it will take a few years to see the impact and their real footprint due to the effects of the pandemic. He also explained that their DMO decided to get certified by the Eco-Lighthouse Foundation due to the fact that understanding the impacts and aspects that you need to work on can be time-consuming, and this organisation could help them accelerate the process.

To conclude his intervention, Magnus highlighted that as a DMO, branding is their most important task, and thus, taking responsibility as a destination is of outmost importance, which is why they encourage other stakeholders in Bergen to get certified. He stated that 80% of the destination's industry are certified, although SMEs are lagging behind. Nonetheless, the Eco-Lighthouse certification provides a threshold and a common brand for certification, which provides clarity for customers and eases the transformation process.

Eva, from Visit Oslo, mentioned that Oslo is also certified as an Eco-Lighthouse Destination, which has helped them greatly due to the provision of good recipes to plan and act from the Foundation. She explained that one of Visit Oslo's current roles is to create a discussion around sustainability amongst their members and partners, transforming the DMO into a knowledge hub. She highlighted that visitors are increasingly seeking sustainable and cleaner forms of tourism, which calls for businesses to adapt, providing the DMO with a great opportunity to exploit sustainability.

Key Takeaways

1. National certification methods provide an opportunity for common understanding between businesses, easing the transformation process.

2. There is an opportunity for DMOs to become knowledge hubs and help destination stakeholders become more sustainable.

Published on:
December 2021
About the contributor

Ann-Kristin Ytreberg

Ann-Kristin Ytreberg is the General Manager of the Eco Lighthouse Foundation (“Miljøfyrtårn” in Norway). Before this, she has held key international management roles in several companies, including Ramirent and Tomra.

Magnus Brekke Nygaard

Magnus (31) was the first ever sustainability manager to be hired in Visit Bergen. Visit Bergen has used the Covid-19 pandemic to intensify the work towards more sustainable tourism and MICE.

Eva Britt Kornfeldt

Eva Britt is the Cruise Manager at VisitOSLO and Visit Svalbard. She is based in Oslo working with conventional and expedition operators for both the capital Oslo and the northernmost cruise destination Svalbard.