Impactful sustainability initiatives: Global Destination Sustainability Index releases 2018 results

The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) has released today its third ranking of the sustainability performance of more than 50 meeting and events cities worldwide.

The GDS-Index is a collaborative platform that promotes the sustainable growth of international meeting destinations through knowledge sharing, capacity building, and benchmarking across four key areas: city environmental strategy and infrastructure; country social sustainability performance; industry supplier support; and Convention Bureau strategy and initiatives.

The 2018 Awards and results were announced at the 57th International Congress and Convention Association Congress, held in Dubai.

GDS-Index 2018 TOP 10 Destinations

Rank City Overall Score   Rank City Overall Score
1 Gothenburg 94%   6 Malmö 82%
2 Copenhagen 90%   7 Zurich & Glasgow 80%
3 Reykjavik 89%   8 Melbourne 75%
4 Oslo 86%   9 Sydney 73%
5 Uppsala & Helsinki 84%   10 Brussels & Espoo 71%



With a score of 94% out of a possible 100 points, and improving from last year, Gothenburg came top of the list of meeting and event cities in the GDS-Index once again and was recognized with the Leadership Award.

”We are immensely proud of this award. The fact that Gothenburg succeeds in retaining the top ranking for the third year is an achievement that shows that the city and its tourism industry take sustainability efforts seriously and challenge other cities to do the same”, says Camilla Nyman, CEO of Göteborg & Co.

Annika Hallman Director Gothenburg Convention Bureau adds:  “Our goal is, of course, that Gothenburg is on top of the list. But in the long run, it is more important that more cities actively work with sustainability issues and learn from each other”.

The 2018 edition of the Global Destination Sustainability Index benchmark is showing some interesting results; if Scandinavian Destinations are still ahead, the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney are making it to the TOP 10, demonstrating a strong commitment of Melbourne and Sydney’s CVBs to sustainability, backed-up by a solid collaboration with city authorities.

Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO, BESydney comments: “The renowned link between Australia’s nature and culture makes sustainability a key priority for New South Wales and Sydney alike,” said BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith. “Through the City of Sydney led initiative, the Sustainable Destination Partnership, BESydney works collaboratively with Sydney’s entire events and entertainment sector to ensure both organisations and delegates are ecologically responsible and maintain best practice. I’m very proud to see that our combined effort is taking effect.”

Brussels and Espoo’s performance are making and entrance in the TOP 10, thanks to a focused approach on their sustainability initiatives in the past year.

The 2018 trends demonstrate a strong commitment for improvement with the TOP 10 average score increasing by 6% compared to 2017 (from 79% in 2017 to 85% in 2018) and some destinations going the extra mile:

Goyang CVB has won the Best Improved Destination Award, they have put remarkable efforts in formalising a sustainability strategy for the destination, putting in place tools to measure performance, and building capacity through industry trainings. Dublin CVB was a very close runner-up and did also tremendously upped their game by putting in place a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the destination, including strong communication about their sustainability involvement.

Mélanie Delaplanche, Director of the GDS-Index notes: “I am thrilled to see the level of performance improve year on year, this is an extremely good sign that destinations are tackling the sustainability challenges of our industry and that the GDS-Index drives and delivers measurable results. With more than 50 destinations benchmarked in 2018, the Index is definitely gaining momentum. More US destinations are joining the rankings, such as Washington DC and Monterey County, we are also delighted to welcome more destinations from very different places of the globe: Bangkok, Dubai, St Petersburg but also more European cities: Monaco, Ljubljana. Ireland is showing a strong commitment to sustainability, with Limerick, Cork, Galway and Kerry now on the Index. Thanks to all destinations for their continued and meaningful efforts in driving sustainability”.





For more information on the GDS-Index please contact:

Mélanie Delaplanche



The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) is a prize-winning grassroots Scandinavian initiative that evolved into the first-ever sustainability ranking for event destinations worldwide. A collaborative partnership between ICCA, European Cities Marketing, IMEX and MCI Group, that promotes knowledge sharing, capacity building, and benchmarking. In a world increasingly focused on responsible business, social development and addressing our environmental impact, the GDS-Index helps destinations to engage clients with sustainability, and drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of sustainable practices in their city.

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ICCA – the International Congress and Convention Association – is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry. ICCA represents the main specialists in organising, transporting, and accommodating international meetings and events, and comprises over 1,000 member companies and organisations in over 100 countries worldwide. ICCA specialises in the international association meetings sector, offering unrivalled data, communication channels, and business development opportunities. Find out more at



IMEX brings the global meetings industry together in one place at one time, twice a year.

Approach: we work together with our clients and partners to provide them with the best platform to do great business, listening to and acting on feedback we receive. We consider ourselves meetings industry professionals first and exhibition organisers second, placing ourselves at the heart of the global meetings industry. Our purpose is to help our clients and partners to make more profitable connections, and create even better events, meetings and experiences.

Shows: our vibrant shows are must-go destinations for the global meetings industry – where meeting planners can walk through the world in a day, keep up to date with the latest industry developments and ideas, and find all the suppliers they need under one roof. We go out of our way to make sure everyone has the best show experience possible. And we provide multiple opportunities to make lasting, powerful and profitable personal connections.

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MCI is the global leader in engaging and activating audiences. Our business is founded on a simple human insight: When people come together, magic happens. This magic is called community. Since 1987 we have been bringing people together through inspiring meetings, events, congresses and association management. MCI helps organizations harness the power of community by applying our strategic engagement and activation solutions to build unforgettable online and offline experiences that foster change, inspire, educate and enhance business performance. MCI is an independently owned company with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and a global presence. Our 2,100 professionals in 63 offices and 31 countries work with clients across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, India, the Middle East and Africa. Find out more at

MCI’s pioneering and award-winning Sustainability Consultancy advises cities, governments, associations and corporations on how to accelerate transformation, catalyse innovation and enhance brand reputation. With over 850 high-profile environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects managed to date and industry-wide recognition for our pioneering sustainable event management, ISO certification consulting and sustainability reporting, we have become the world’s leading organiser of sustainable events and events about sustainability. Find out more at



European Cities Marketing is a non-profit organisation improving the competitiveness and performance of the leading cities of Europe. ECM provides a platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry and City Marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practices and widen their network to build new business.

European Cities Marketing believes that whether in Portugal or in Poland, Ireland or Italy, DMOs are uniquely placed to project vision, ambition and a message to the rest of the world about their place. Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, strengthened by deep and meaningful private sector partnerships, we believe that DMOs should feel confident about asserting their position in city government, becoming an indispensable resource for all of those who wish to invest time and money in a city.

ECM members are official tourist boards, convention bureaux and multi-functional urban marketing agencies established by cities in Europe. They are official in the sense that they are constituted either as departments of city government or public-private partnerships (i.e. companies, foundations, etc.). Find out more at