Gothenburg, Sweden, Named World's Most Sustainable Destination

Environmentally conscious meeting planners looking to go green might want to consider these cities, ranked by ICCA and partners. 

GDS Index 2019

Meeting planners looking to go green may want to consider hosting an event in Gothenburg, Sweden. The city ranked number one on the 2019 Global Destination Sustainability Index, which is a partnership among ICCA, ICCA's Scandinavian chapter, IMEX, European Cities Marketing and the MCI Group. The 2019 rankings were released at the ICCA Congress, which took place Oct. 27-30 in Houston.

The 10 highest-scoring destinations are:

1. Gothenburg, Sweden (score: 90)
2. Copenhagen, Denmark (88)
3. Zurich (84.6)
4. Glasgow, Scotland (78.5)
5. Aalborg, Denmark (76.2)
6. Reykjavik, Iceland (75.8)
7. Malmo, Sweden (75.6)
8. Sydney (74.9)
9. Uppsala, Sweden (74.3)
10. Melbourne, Australia (74.3)

The list includes 50 global destinations in total. The GDS Index, now in its fourth year, worked with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the Social Progress Imperative and the Events Industry Council to develop more demanding criteria for this year's rankings. Cities were evaluated on four key areas: environmental strategy and infrastructure, social sustainability performance, industry supplier support and the strategy and initiatives of the convention and visitors bureau.

"As the effects of climate change become evident and social pressure for action increases, the meetings and events industry must continue to create positive economic impact for destinations, and help influence the social and environmental policies that are affected by our business," said James Rees, executive director of ExCel London and president of ICCA. "Destination management organizations are a key catalyst and enabler of a sustainable visitor economy. I am delighted to see the GDS Index evolving and playing a vital role in accelerating the creation of sustainable destinations."

The 2019 GDS Index Award winners were also announced at the event. The three awards were determined by a judging panel of six industry experts. Gothenburg received the Leadership Award for the fourth time in a row. The Swedish city improved its GDS Index ranking by seven percent compared to last year. The Innovation Award was given to Sydney for its "Sustainable Destination Partnership," which reduced the environmental footprint of the hospitality industry. And the Most Improved Award was given to Meet in Ireland, which represents Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Kerry.

"The GDS Index has been a powerful lever in our sustainability work," said Annika Hallman, director of the Gothenburg Convention Bureau. "It has helped us to improve performance and inspire others to become more sustainable. We have lectured and received study visits from other cities and used our top position to drive the sustainable development of the global meeting industry, as well as to strengthen Gothenburg's profile as a leading congress and convention destination."