At the ICCA Congress in Paris, Gothenburg was awarded the first prize from the Global Destination Sustainability Movement for the fifth year in a row. It would probably have been for the sixth year in a row, but there was no award ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic. “Gothenburg is not a global metropolis. It is not even a capital city. Even so, we are a Swedish destination that makes an impact on big issues,” says Annika Hallman, Director of Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

“We know that investing in sustainability is wise and aim to be a strong force for positive change. However, we want nothing more than to be challenged. We want other destinations to succeed, and we share our best practices and knowledge freely.”

The city has a holistic perspective for the urban environment with a policy and programmes concerning its design. The subject of accessibility is central, and there is broad cooperation between administrations and companies.

Another vital ingredient for success is meeting legacy incorporated in the Gothenburg Strategic Plan for Meetings. Gothenburg’s approach to sustainability has gained international recognition.

Gothenburg is now a five-year consecutive leader in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (2016–2019, 2021) and was the European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2020. It is also named the world’s Best Sustainable City Stay 2021 by Lonely Planet.

Gothenburg is one of the most progressive cities worldwide when it comes to addressing climate and environmental issues. Gothenburg issued green bonds to accelerate investments in climate-oriented solutions, including waste management to renewable energy, as the first city in the world. It has resulted in structures beneficial to everyone.

The city keeps pushing for change and has set out to become fossil-independent by 2030. The local meetings industry is a pioneer in ecological sustainability, inclusion and accessibility, and sees sustainability as part of their DNA.

Eco-certified suppliers, venues run on renewables, the environmental diploma system, and the proximity in the city are crucial elements in achieving ecological sustainability. Gothenburg has a low emission zone in place, and the airport is certified to the highest level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme.

The Win Win Gothenburg Sustainability Award, founded by the city, is an international prize awarded to a person or organisation for outstanding contributions towards a more sustainable future.

By awarding this international prize, the city gets to celebrate success and learn from the best.

Former winners are, for example, Kofi Annan, UN secretary, and the intergovernmental body IPBES Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

“All leading venues are eco-certified, and almost 100 per cent of the hotel rooms hold an official eco-certification”

In Gothenburg, world-class sustainable solutions are used, and large-scale events are made sustainable and accessible with extensive experience.

The fact that Gothenburg has made sustainable a standard makes it easy to organise events and to visit. The city strives to minimise any negative impact on people and the environment, and the city serves as a testbed for sustainable innovations and creative solutions.

“We aim to make a positive contribution to society, stakeholders, and the local economy; and to create lasting positive effects locally and regionally,” says Annika Hallman.

Authorities, academia and industry work together in the Gothenburg Way to Legacy programme, which stems from the Gothenburg Strategic Plan for Meetings developed in broad stakeholder collaboration 2018.

Events like European Championships, Way Out West and the Gothenburg Culture Festival are living-lab platforms showing how to develop a sustainable meetings and events destination where inclusion and accessibility are key features.

All leading venues are eco-certified, and almost 100 per cent of the hotel rooms hold an official eco-certification making Gothenburg one of the greenest hotel cities in the world. Likewise, the Opera House, Concert Hall and the amusement park are eco-certified, and restaurants have easy access to local and organic produce.

International exchange and cultural diversity have always been a part of the Gothenburg DNA. Significant aspects are social sustainability and inclusion, and the city government has established an ambitious programme to fight segregation and close inequality gaps.

Team Gothenburg is a project to engage young adults representing all districts in city events to help break down prejudices relating to gender, ethnicity, background, etcetera.

The city has received the European Access City Award for the strategic and structured work towards a city accessible for all. Sweden’s first municipal LGBT advisory board was established in Gothenburg in 2013, and hosting Euro Pride in 2018 was also an acknowledgement of their efforts.

Sweden leads the Sustainable Competitiveness Index and the Good Country Index. Also, Sweden holds top positions in Global Gender Gap Report and Corruption Perceptions Index.