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DMOs must become sustainable destination stewards: GDS-Index

New report urges events industry to take a bigger role in accelerating sustainable development plans.

The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) has released its 2019 Whitepaper, highlighting trends and strategies undertaken by 47 Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and municipalities to become regenerative hubs for economic, social and environmental development.

Unveiled at the European Cities Marketing (ECM) conference last week, the whitepaper highlights fundamental building blocks for DMOs to become sustainable destination stewards and ‘changemakers’ and defines tactics on how destinations can integrate sustainability into their core strategy and become leaders in future-oriented collaboration.

GDS-Index managing director, Guy Bigwood, said a new era of sustainability is rising and “will touch every corner of the events industry”.

“We believe that a better and more restorative global future lies in urban innovation and collaborative action. The GDS-Index plays a key role to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in,” he said.

Supported by leading industry organisations ECM, MCI, IMEX Group and ICCA, the whitepaper defines converging mega trends that present destinations and the business events industry with opportunities to improve their performance and adapt to the risks presented by climate breakdown, ecocide, demographic shifts, social change and digitalisation.

MCI CEO, Sébastien Tondeur, said: “Scientific predictions about the rate and effect of human impact on climate and our living planet are increasing in certainty and accuracy. As an industry we need to step up, scale up and speed up our sustainability efforts. Destinations are key to the transformation of our industry, and the GDS-Index is an important catalyst helping them transform.”

IMEX Group CEO, Carina Bauer, said the time to act is now.

“The economic, social and environmental significance of the events industry is massive. We could influence safe and fair working conditions for 26 million jobs, direct US$1.5 trillion towards more responsible supply chains, and inspire 1.5 billion participants to action,” she said.

“Our industry has a decisive role in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 SDGs. The next couple of years represent a serous tipping point for us all – and for the generations to come.”

The 2019 GDS-Index benchmarking period is open for existing and new destinations until 5 September. More than 60 destinations are currently participating in the 2019 GDS-Index.

For information on the methodology and criteria, visit: