50 Degrees North was founded in 2010, at the tail end of the global financial crisis. Since then the company has grown from a small family company to a global business with over 50 employees and offices on 3 continents. Getting where we are today has been a long road, and a great achievement. We are well on our way to establish our business as one of the leading Nordic destination specialists globally offering boutique, sustainable and authentic travel experiences above the 50th parallel north. As an established business, we have also become more serious about our impact on the planet and have been rolling out a scheme of giving back.
I am thrilled to share some exciting news from 50 Degrees North. After an intensive 18-month deep dive into the business, consolidating our commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices, I am pleased to announce that we have achieved B Corporation certification.
This prestigious certification places us among a select global community of businesses that uphold high standards of social and environmental impact, and I want to personally thank everyone who has contributed to the massive work involved in achieving the certification.
Indeed, the road to B Corp certification involved an exhaustive assessment of our impact on our employees, customers, the environment, and the communities we serve. It necessitated adhering to strict criteria, from ensuring fair labour practices and environmental stewardship to prioritising transparency and social good.
Becoming a Certified B Corporation marks a significant milestone, reflecting our dedication to sustainable and responsible travel. We are deeply committed to the wellbeing of our employees, customers, partners, local communities, and the preservation of our destinations.
During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North signed the Glasgow Declaration, solidifying our commitment to the planet and our impact on it. In May 2022, we received the Travelife Partner Award in recognition of our efforts towards sustainable travel and Corporate Social Responsibility. In 2023, we continued on this path: We are donating 10% of our 2022 after tax profit (approx. NOK600,000) to a selection of charitable organisations, and we have introduced volunteering schemes for our employees.
Although we are experiencing exponential growth, 50 Degrees North is still a proud family-run company with a very Nordic culture where passion, authenticity and trust form our pillars of success. We are excited about the future of tourism, and are keen to co-operate with the industry to fight for real action for the future of our planet.
-Tietse Stelma, CEO and Co-founder of 50 Degrees North
Spreading wealth by promoting less visited destinations and local places, as well as promoting travel in low season (i.e. as an antidote to overtourism)
Supporting local people and their businesses to ensure socio-economic benefit and sustainability for local communities (i.e. rather than multinational corporations)
Preferring partnerships with operators who adhere to strict environmental, quality and safety standards set by recognised national certification schemes (where available). For example, choosing Nordic Choice hotels which are certified in accordance with the ISO 14001 environmental standards.
Promoting low emission transport options, e.g. the use of trains and other public transport, electric vehicles, electric snow mobiles and ships with a strong emission reduction strategy
Respecting the limitations of the destinations by minimising our impact on local nature, wildlife and culture
Actively contributing to the preservation of local nature, wildlife, cultures and landscapes
On 06 November 2023, 50 Degrees North received B Corporation certification. Companies that are B Corp certified meet high standards of social and environmental responsibility, transparency, and accountability. These companies prioritise purpose alongside profit and commit to making a positive impact on society and the environment. In essence, B Corp status (which involves an exhaustive assessment of a company's impact on their employees, customers, the environment, and the communities they serve) signifies that a company's business practices are both ethical and sustainable.
On the 25 May 2022, we received the Travelife Partner Award, in recognition for the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of 50 Degrees North Nordic regarding sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. 50 Degrees North Nordic complies with more than 100 criteria, related to an operators’ office management, product range, international business partners and customer information. The Travelife standard is covering the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is formally Recognised as in full compliance with the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
During the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, 50 Degrees North Nordic, along with 300 other tourism companies, became one of the founding signatories of the Glasgow Declaration. Here is our plan forward. Here is our plan forward.
Sustainable tourism and responsible travel are at the forefront of the 50 Degrees North philosophy. We aim to create and maintain sustainable business practices that not only provide economic benefits for the local populations in our destinations, but also respect and protect nature, cultural heritage, and local values, with the aim of preserving all of these for future generations.
As part of our commitment to our climate action plan, we have published our 2022 impact report. Read our IMPACT REPORT 2022 here.
We are one step further towards our goal with the release of carbon labels on our tours. On 35 of our most popular and iconic experiences you will now find it’s carbon footprint, which is an overview of how much carbon that particular trip generates from what is included, such as the accommodation, transport, meals, activities and even the tour guide. By 2024 we plan to publish the footprint of every one of our tours.
By measuring and sharing details of each tours carbon footprint it not only allows us to see where reductions can be made, but it helps our customers to understand the impact of that tour.
We aim to source local products and services as part of our daily office procedures. We use local printers and buy locally. We have a ban on single use coffee cups in our offices with a 50DN Keep Cup fund.
50 Degrees North promotes partnerships with local businesses in the destinations we travel rather using international chain hotels or companies. This also means that the people you meet on the ground are locals who know their area better than anyone and can take you deep under the skin of their home country or region. A good example of this is our Beautiful Norway tour, which is motivated by our desire to distribute wealth and employment opportunities more evenly by introducing travellers to areas, hotels, and service providers outside of the traditional and extremely busy routes. And the good news is that the experience is all the more wonderful and authentic for it.
The Arctic Environment is home to many unique and vulnerable species and habitats. Help us protect the Arctic from the impact of alien species by, where possible, brushing, hoovering and cleaning clothes and any equipment prior to departure, paying particular attention to outerwear and footwear. This is in accordance with the request of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
- 65% OF ALL TRAVELERS SAY THEY USE MORE BOTTLED WATER ON VACATION THAN THEY DO AT HOME
- 70% OF ALL TRAVELERS SAY THEY DON’T TRUST TAP WATER IN THEIR DESTINATION
- 80% OF ALL PLASTIC BOTTLES END UP IN LANDFILLS OR IN THE OCEAN
It is time for a change, as in the Nordics, buying bottled water is completely unecessary. Tap water across the region is clean and potable. Bring a waterbottle on your trip, and you will always have freshh and clean water available FOR FREE. That will help keep our environment pristine.
#kranavatn (Iceland) #kranvann (Norway) #kranvatten (Sweden) #postevand (Denmark) #vesijohtovettä (Finland)
As Mark Twain famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." We agree that meaningful, authentic travel is a fundamentally eye-opening experience that advances understanding and tolerance of other cultures.
However, when flying long distances to what will hopefully be a once-in-lifetime kind of extraordinary holiday (our specialty), we recommend researching and considering which airlines are the most fuel efficient prior to booking your flights.
We also recommend compensating for travel related carbon emissions by making environmental donations (“carbon offsets”) to reputable, usually not-for-profit organisations. Below are some suggestions:
Australia & NZ: Greenfleet
Furthermore, we also recommend public transport or independent drives over flying while in the destination. You get a much deeper understanding of the landscape of a country through the window of a train / ferry / car than you do by flying over it.