A new initiative towards more sustainable meetings and events

In March 2016, the Global Destination Sustainability Index was launched globally. This is the first world sustainability ranking for meeting destinations.

This ranking on the ability that destinations and their local providers (tourist companies providing services for meetings and events) have to support associations, government organisations, and companies in holding more sustainable meetings and events in their destinations.

The ranking helps the participating destinations to involve their clients in sustainability, align themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and promote and recognise the good practices applied in the destinations.


The forerunner of this initiative was the project launched by the Scandinavian chapter of ICCA and MCI, which was completed with 25 pioneering destinations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, with the collaboration of the IMEX trade fair.

The project was completed in 2013, with the publication of the Scandinavian Sustainable Destinations Index, which was meant to showcase the good practices and strategies developed by the various destinations in order to hold more sustainable meetings and improve the services offered to meeting planners.

This experience served as a benchmark to launch a similar project globally.

The Global Destination Sustainability Index evaluates the sustainability of destinations and Convention Bureaus in 4 key areas:

  • The destination’s environmental strategy and infrastructure.
  • The destination’s social sustainability performance.
  • The support from local providers to this sustainable goal (convention centres, hotels, and restaurants, among others).
  • Convention Bureau strategies and initiatives to support more sustainable meetings and events in their destination.

The index rates (with a percentage) the degree of compliance by each destination (or Convention Bureau) in each of the 4 areas. Thus, the destination learns in which areas it should improve.

The goal of the project is to involve 100 towns and cities by 2020.

According to Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, this project stands out due to the collaboration which it involves and because the initiative has arisen from the destinations themselves.

It should be borne in mind that the main sustainability values are:

  • Development of the local economy and sustainable growth over time.
  • Conservation of the environment and natural resources.
  • Restriction of negative impacts on local society.

One year after the launch of this initiative, more than 20 international destinations have joined the Scandinavian destinations in the index.

The destinations (outside of Scandinavia) that are part of this global initiative are:

  • Americas – Houston (USA).
  • Asia-Pacific – Kyoto, Macau, Sapporo, Sidney, and Melbourne.
  • Europe – Glasgow, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, Zurich, Nantes, The Hague, Stuttgart, Reykjavik, and Frankfurt.
  • Africa – Cape City, Durban, and Pretoria.

More information on this initiative can be found on the Index website: http://gds-index.com