Norwegian philosophy is very much that conservation is everyone's responsibility. Enjoying nature and the outdoors is considered a national pasttime, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the preservation and use of the wilderness.
In practical terms, this means that even though large parts of mainland Norway consists of national parks and other protected areas, Norway's right of access makes sure you can enjoy nature more or less as you wish – even in these sensitive and vulnerable regions.
Originally an age-old tradition based on sustainable principles, long before anybody had ever heard the term, this has since been set down in law. Even today, it is still based on a long-term respect for nature and wilderness that is prevalent in Norway.
Today, knowledge of ecology and nature is much greater than it once was, but so is the wear and tear on both the landscape and the people. In order to protect both nature and community, landscape and businesses, we try to take the long view: What we enjoy experiencing today will be even more enjoyable to future generations, and it’s our job to make sure it’s still there when their turn comes.
Many places follow sustainable principles, but being certified as a sustainable destination is an honour few few qualify for. It takes years of work demonstrating their lasting commitment to providing the best possible experiences for their guests, while keeping the negative impact of tourism to a minimum. In addition, the destination must work to continually improve its business practices and relations with the local community, following principles of sustainability.
Family-friendly Trysil is Norway's largest ski destination. Surrounded by unspoilt nature, Trysil was one of the first holiday spots in Europe to achieve the prestigious Sustainable Tourism certification.
The traditional town of Røros, which is known as one of Norway’s sustainable destinations, is a modern community in which people live and work right in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The UNESCO-protected islands of Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, is named one of the world’s top undiscovered island gems.
The best preserved medieval church in Norway, Borgund, and unique wooden houses in Lærdalsøyri gives plenty to see, and from Lærdal you can reach an altitude of 1,000 metres with magnificent views in just a couple of hours on foot.
Becoming a sustainable destination takes years of work, with the whole local community working together. These are the next in line, and are expected to be certified in the year to come:
Green Travel is the sign making it easy for you to find and make environmentally responsible choices. Whenever you see the green tuft of grass, you’ll know that the associated products and offers are certified in a qualified environmental scheme. Alongside the green tuft, you’ll find the logo and name of the specific scheme the provider is certified by.
Make sure your holiday has the smallest footprint possible by looking for these labels and logos.
This national certification is awarded to businesses and operators that hold a high international level in ecotourism. Over 100 strict criteria on environmental performance, host-role, local community integration and purchasing must be met and often improved. The certificate is renewed every three years.
More than 5000 products in Norway are certified with Nordic Swan, which indicates that they satisfy strict demands within energy efficiency, materials, and chemicals, all the way from raw materials to end product and waste management.
The Eco-Lighthouse certification places demands on energy use, waste disposal, transportation, procurement and work environment. Over 5000 businesses in Norway are certified with this, which must be renewed every three years.
Green key is an international eco-label for environmental performance in tourism. It aims to increase knowledge and awareness of sustainable methods and principles in tourism, and to reduce the consumption of resources and energy. Thousands of establishments in over 50 countries participate in The Green Key.
ISO 14001 is given to enterprises that have a high-quality environmental managing system for organizational performance.
Beaches or marinas that qualify for Blue Flag are judged to uphold high standards in water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services, and general environmental management. The Blue Flag awards are announced annually in early June.
Equality, freedom… and waffles. The foods, traditions and way of life here on the outskirts of Europe may sometimes seem peculiar. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two by reading here.
In Norway everyone has the unrestricted right of free access in the countryside, including the national parks.