Gothenburg is the world’s most sustainable city for the fourth year in a row, according to the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) 2019, released at the 58th ICCA World Congress in Houston last week.
The city scored a 89.64 out of a possible 100 points, and with a seven per cent improvement from last year.
The next two cities after Gothenburg were Copenhagen and Zurich, while the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne came in at the eight and 10th place respectively. New destinations who advanced into the top 10 included Aalborg and Dublin, with significant jumps in performance for Glasgow, Sydney and Zurich. The ranking first started in 2016.
The index took into account the sustainability performance of 50 global business tourism and events destinations, where the GDS-Index benchmarks performance across four key areas – city’s environmental strategy and infrastructure; city’s social sustainability performance; industry supplier support; and the DMO’s strategy and initiatives.
In addition, the judging panel, made up of six industry experts, selected Sydney to win the GDS-Index Innovation Award for its outstanding Sustainable Destination Partnership; a multi-stakeholder collaboration that has resulted in the environmental footprinting of the Sydney hospitality sector, then the co-creation of a strategy to achieve a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and divert 90 per cent of its waste by 2030.
The jury was also impressed by the joint second place projects presented by Wonderful Copenhagen for its Stakeholder Engagement programme and the Green Supply Chains initiative of Ljubljana Tourism.
For the first time, the GDS-Index Best Improver Award was presented to a region, with the honours being installed on the Meet in Ireland Partnership representing Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Kerry. They joined the GDS-Index in 2018 with a vision to collaborate and improve destination sustainability as a region. Aalborg and Ljubljana also made major performance and ranking jumps.
The 2019 GDS-Index results also demonstrate that DMOs are in action on sustainability, with a 29 per cent increase in terms of overall performance from 2018.
Guy Bigwood, managing director of the GDS-Index, said in a statement: “This year’s results provide positive signs of a global shift in how DMOs integrate sustainability into their strategy, value proposal, stewardship and reporting activities. The results also highlight the need for DMOs to get much better at developing an inspiring vision of change, engaging their stakeholders and managing resources to implement and measure social impact for their communities and visitors.”
James Rees, president of ICCA, added: “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, but also help influence the social and environmental policies that are affected by our business. DMOs are a key catalyst and enabler of a sustainable visitor economy, and I am delighted to see the GDS-Index evolving and playing a vital role in accelerating the creation of sustainable destinations.”
To find out more about the survey and the results for all cities involved, click here.