The Global Destination Sustainability Index
The GDS-Index is the world’s leading benchmarking and performance improvement program for business tourism destinations. It is a collaborative partnership between ICCA, ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter, IMEX, ECM and MCI Group. It offer training, tools, and a knowledge community to Destination Management Organisations and Convention Bureaus with the purpose to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in. Its focus is on SDGs 9, 11, 12, & 17.
Objective 1: To measure and benchmark the sustainability of meetings and events destinations. This creates factual data which can be used to rank and compare the sustainability of different business tourism destinations. A leaderboard of this nature promotes healthy competition, allows events organisers to make an informed decision before deciding on the location for an event, and makes becoming sustainable a competitive advantage. Objective 2: To consult destinations on how to become more sustainable. Through workshops and presentations we help destinations develop a sustainability strategy, engage stakeholders, and coach organisations on how to integrate sustainable thinking at the core of their business. By encouraging a long-term view on development, issues of over-consumption and destructive habits are alleviated. Obective 3: To act as a knowledge platform. From the evaluation of destinations we discover inspiring success stories and innovative initiatives. These best practices are important tactics for change which we promote to all stakeholders annually in our Whitepaper, through social media campaigns, and in workshops for conventions bureaus and destination management organisations. The GDS-Index promotes the importance of sustainability within the business tourism sector, and is currently the only sustainability performance improvement programme for destination management organisations. While the act of raising awareness has played a crucial part in our operations, it is also challenging to measure. What is easier to measure, is the level of improvement which member destinations have exhibited. From 2018 to 2019 the average sustainability score improved from 55/100 to 61/100. This highlights that the GDS-Index has played an important role to make destinations more sustainable places to visit, meet, and thrive in. By 2022 the goal is to have 300 member destinations, which will further amplify this impact.