Meetings No 19
Artificial Intelligence
Atti Soenarso: AI is soon an everyday commodity.
Cover Story
Anders Sörman-Nilsson
Gazing into the future of the meetings industry.
Europe is not a market
It is the will to live together.
Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre
“Our vision is to create Europe’s most attractive venue.”
Padraic Gilligan
Why ROI for meetings and incentives is a waste of time.
Elling Hamso
Why ROI is not a waste of time.
ICC Sydney
An important contributor to innovation.
Radar on penetrating the ­European meetings industry.
HR Technology
The Rise of AI
Rohit Talwar and Alexandra Whittington: On AI and HR.
Sustainable Growth
Scandinavian sustainability initiative expands.
In a Hole
Lending a hand.
Record number of association meetings in 2016.
Best Cities Global Forum
“Unlocking the collective intelligence.”
My 23 Best Tactics for Personal Greatness
Robin Sharma: “Protect your willpower.”
Technology and Meetings
Tech is key in creating purposeful meetings.
IMEX Frankfurt
Packed with opportunities.
Cyber Security
The Anti-Cloud
Jaak Geens and Linas Bukauskas on
Cyber vs. Personal
Roger Kellerman: “Now is the time to improve online security.”
MCI middle East and Zahara Tours
join forces to bring association events to Oman.
business intelligence
ibtm world pre-matched appointments
reach new high ahead of 30th anniversary edition.
Meeting Industry
Convene Hosted Buyer Programme
Reaches All-Time High.
Award winner
Gothenburg ranks number one
among sustainable and innovative cities.
association meetings
Inaugural Winners
of Incredible Impacts Grants Announced.

Nigeria, Senegal and Cape Verde
dominate the West African hotel pipeline with 77% of the total planned hotel rooms.
business Intelligence
Business events
must adopt Olympic standard when it comes to safety.
hotel news
Dubai’s first all-inclusive resort
sees big rise in demand.
maximum meeting place
Paris Convention Centre:
the largest conference centre in Europe.
Business Intelligence
Digital focus gives 13% uplift
for Denmark on German MICE market.
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Scandinavian Sustainability Initiative Expands

The prize-winning grassroots Scandinavian initiative that evolved into the first-ever sustainability ranking for event destinations worldwide is growing. Initiated by ICCA’s Scandinavian Chapter in collaboration with the MCI Group, the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) partnership was expanded in 2016 to include IMEX and ICCA (the International Congress and Convention Association).

The GDS-Index is a collaborative platform that aims to promote the sustainable growth of international meeting destinations, highlighting best practices and responsible business tourism. It looks to bring cities together to benchmark and improve the social and environmental performance of their city and its business events industry.

In a world increasingly focused on responsible business and addressing our environmental impact, the GDS-Index helps destinations to engage clients with sustainability, align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of sustainable practices in their city.

The GDS-Index will evaluate the sustainability performance of cities and bureaus in four key areas, including: city environmental strategy and infrastructure; city social sustainability performance; industry supplier support (restaurants, hotels and convention centres); and Convention Bureau strategy and initiatives. The GDS-Index is designed to take account of the destinations’ existing sustainability initiatives and certification programmes and provide an objective, overall evaluation of the city as a sustainable events destination.

“Our vision is to have over 100 cities benchmarking and collaborating together by 2020. Today we have 25 Scandinavian cities based in Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden, as well as our first wave of global cities including Geneva, Stuttgart and Sydney,” says Guy Bigwood, MCI Group Sustainability Director and GDS-Index project leader. “The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events industry has a unique role to play to help cities and businesses implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and create a more prosperous future for us all.”

Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA: “The unique feature of the GDS-Index is that this is a bottom-up phenomenon, driven by the destinations themselves. The ICCA members in Scandinavia have invented a powerful engine to improve their destinations’ sustainability and business competitiveness, and we are delighted that they want ICCA to help them share this with the whole world, rather than keeping the GDS-Index to themselves. We believe this is an excellent platform for leaders in sustainability from every region to showcase their policies and good practices, and for any ambitious destination to swiftly improve their competitiveness.”

“Our industry requires greater focus and efforts to make sustainable events easier, cheaper and totally widespread,” adds Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. “IMEX wants to support the development of our industry and this ground-breaking initiative to pioneer sustainability globally for meeting and incentive destinations.”

The Scandinavian GDS-Index was first published in 2012 and 2013, and has stimulated a large volume of sustainability initiatives across the Nordic region that continues to this day. The two-year project demonstrated impressive results, with nearly half of Convention Bureaux in the region developing a sustainability strategy, compared to only 20 percent before the Index was launched. Sustainability communication has improved by 50 percent, and eco-certifications across the region rose to include 60 percent of meetings industry suppliers, more than any other region in the world. The project was also honoured to receive the UN World Tourism Organisation Award for Innovation.

Gothenburg was the highest scoring city when the results of the Global Destination Sustainability Index were revealed at the end of 2016.

“This was fantastic news for Gothenburg as a city of meetings and events. We aim to lead the way and this is confirmation of our successful partnership between trade, industry and the city,” says Camilla Nyman, CEO at Gothenburg & Co.

With a score of 83 out of a possible 100, Gothenburg took first place, ahead of several well-known conference destinations. The Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index compares cities to determine how well they meet a long list of sustainability criteria in four different categories: social, supplier, convention bureau and environmental. This is the first year that the GDS survey has been completed.

“This is the result of several years of dedicated sustainability efforts in collaboration between the city and trade and industry. It makes all our work even more worthwhile,” says Annika Hallman, Director of Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

All the cities were benchmarked on their ability to meet criteria in four different areas, with a maximum score of 100 per cent. Gothenburg gained the highest scores in social sustainability and supplier sustainability.

  • Environmental sustainability: 74 %
  • Social sustainability: 100 %
  • Supplier sustainability: 96 %
  • Convention Bureau sustainability: 78 %.

All aspects of sustainability are becoming increasingly important for organisers of large conventions. Achieving first place in the index is clear confirmation of the efforts of all the major conference facilities in the city.

“Sustainability is incredibly important to us as an international meeting place, and sustainable development has been a natural part of everything we do for many years. First place gives us recognition that will reinforce our position and that of Gothenburg in the international market,” says Carin Kindbom, CEO and President of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, of which Gothia Towers is a part.

But to gain a high ranking in the GDS Index it is not enough to ensure that the visitor industry, conference facilities and hotels are involved; the city as a whole must also be engaged in sustainability issues.

“Almost all our hotels have environmental diplomas and all major conference facilities have the highest environmental classification, as well as Landvetter Airport,” says Camilla Nyman.

With this project there are regional leaders from not only Scandinavia anymore but also from continents other than Europe. Scandinavian countries that share a vision of a better, smarter and more sustainable future. They have committed to taking action to measure and benchmark impacts, share knowledge, create products to help clients and develop socially responsible community action projects.

The GDS-Index is a collaborative platform that aims to promote the sustainable growth of international meeting destinations through benchmarking across four key areas: city environmental strategy and infrastructure; city social sustainability performance; industry supplier support (restaurants, hotels and convention centres); and Convention Bureau strategy and initiatives.

Launched by ICCA, IMEX and MCI in March 2016, 35 cities in five continents have since joined the process of benchmarking and assessment, with many more looking to join in 2017. Through the continued benchmarking and sharing of these best practices, the GDS-Index aims to drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of sustainable practices across 100 cities by 2020.

Leading sustainable destinations on the GDS-Index have created and embraced a robust sustainability strategy for the meetings industry that supports the city’s overall social, environmental and economic goals. Their strategy is reinforced through proper incentives and capacity training, strong local community and supplier engagement, and effective communication about sustainability initiatives.

Looking ahead, it is clear that the meetings industry must embrace more sustainable practices and recognize that all of us – be it government, suppliers, corporates or associations – play a key role in enabling a more sustainable future.

Today the Index is measuring the following destinations:

  • Aalborg, Denmark
  • Aarhus, Denmark
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Espoo, Finland
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Houston, USA
  • Jönköping, Sweden
  • Karlstad, Sweden
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Malmö, Sweden
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Nantes, France
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Sapporo, Japan
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Stuttgart, Germany
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tampere, Finland
  • The Hague, Netherlands
  • Trollhättan, Sweden
  • City of Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa
  • Turko, Finland
  • Uppsala, Sweden
  • Västerås, Sweden
  • Zürich, Switzerland