Aurora Expeditions gains B Corporation certification

Sustainability goes far beyond only the environmental impacts of the business, says CEO

Credit: Renato Graniere

Aurora Expeditions has achieved a new milestone in its sustainability journey, earning its stripes as a Certified B Corporation™. The Virtuoso-affiliated adventure cruise operator says the certification is a “definitive step in its vision to be the global leader in sustainable expedition travel”.

B Corps are certified businesses that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, and who have made a legal commitment to balance purpose and profit. Michael Heath, CEO Aurora Expeditions had flagged the company’s impending approval as a certified B Corp with LATTE at Virtuoso Travel Week last year.

“We’re very, very close to securing B Corp Certification. We’re quietly confident and feel like we’re just months away. We’re coming to the end of the process,” Heath revealed to LATTE in August 2023.

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Official certification is a culmination of Aurora’s efforts to embed sustainable practices across all areas of its business. The company was assessed on its impact across five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Part of this is its portfolio of sustainability programs, working to protect ‘Planet’ and ‘People’ through initiatives such as its 100% Climate Neutral status, emissions reduction strategies, conservation and climate change education, support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and more.

“We are exceedingly proud to join the B Corp community following a rigorous, but rewarding process,” Heath said in a press release.

“We have been taking passengers on small-ship expeditions to some of the world’s most remote and untouched wilderness destinations for more than three decades, and we recognise acutely our responsibility to inspire, educate and advocate for the preservation of these important ecosystems.

Aurora Expeditions' ships, Sylvia Earle and Greg Mortimer | Credit: Aurora Expeditions © Jean-Pierre Els

Heath continued, saying in a statement: “Furthermore, through this process we have learned that sustainability is so much more than our environmental impacts, though these play a hugely important part. Much of the work we were already doing in other areas such as policy and governance has also been formalised, and we are now meeting a higher level of accountability, ensuring we consider the impact of business decisions on all stakeholders.”

“This has been a powerful step for our business. As a B Corp in the expedition travel space, we’re counted among businesses that are leading a global movement for change, and we hope to inspire others in our industry to do the same.”

Delving deeper, Heath told LATTE this week Aurora Expeditions’ “higher level of accountability” referred to the five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment and customers.

“We have reviewed, evaluated and enhanced our impact across every area of our business, including amending our company constitution, formalising and enhancing many policies such as health and wellbeing, career development programs, supply chain management, diversity, equity and inclusion surveys and more,” he told LATTE.

Quizzed on what the most significant learning from the B Corp certification process, Heath said the company had gained further knowledge on the reach of sustainability.

“Sustainability is so much more than only the environmental impacts of the business, though this is a very important part. In order to drive change, it

should be embedded into all levels of the business and all stakeholders should be considered and brought along for the journey.”

Credit: Aurora Expeditions/Facebook

And what does being a B Corp-certified business mean from a customer’s perspective? Heath explained that the focus on sustainability and responsible travel has been part of Aurora’s DNA since the company’s founding more than three decades ago.

“Our passengers see it as core to the Aurora brand, via our sustainability programs both on and off-ship, sustainable food initiatives, our conservation education, citizen science projects and more. B Corp certification felt like a natural step in our sustainability journey, and the certification signifies that the company is recognised to be operating as ethically, transparently and sustainably as possible,” he said.

While there are thousands of B Corps around the globe, the number within the travel industry is relatively low.

“Within the expedition travel or cruising space specifically, we are joining only the likes of Intrepid Travel and a handful of smaller international companies,” he said.

“We’re proud to be joining a global community of businesses focused on change and we hope to inspire others in our industry to do the same,” Heath concluded.

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