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Teamwork behind Gothenburg’s top ranking as a globally sustainable destination

Data collection for this year’s Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI) is currently underway. This international comparison of destinations’ sustainability work has placed Gothenburg in first place seven years in a row. More and more cities around the world are joining the index and Gothenburg’s success is based on the commitment of all stakeholders involved in the venture.

It all actually started in Gothenburg over ten years ago. The Scandinavian part of the meeting organization ICCA came together to plan a common framework for destinations’ sustainability work. GDSI carried out its first ranking in 2016 and Gothenburg was already at the top then and has maintained its position ever since.

Then as now, Göteborg & Co is responsible for collecting and reporting the results to the organization Global Destination Movement, which compiles the comparison. The company’s sustainability strategist, Katarina Thorstensson, is mainly responsible for the work in which both the City of Gothenburg, the tourism industry, organizations and parts of business participate and contribute to the result.

How would you describe GDSI?

Katarina håller i hållbarhetspriset.
Katarina Thorstensson receives the award 2023.

It is a tool for developing travel destinations in a sustainable direction. It is an international benchmark in which 100 destinations worldwide now participate in describing their sustainability work in a structured way. The aim is to learn from and inspire each other to improve their own work.

Gothenburg has been ranked highest for seven years in a row. Why have we been so successful?

We started early with a common vision that our stakeholders agreed on. The city, the business world, the tourism industry; everyone contributes based on their perspective and their field of activity. Everyone’s contribution matters and it is teamwork that makes the whole.

So it’s a significant collaboration?

Yes, it is very clear that cooperation in all areas is crucial. Right now we have started the annual reporting process as we collect data to be submitted at the end of May.

What kind of data is it?

It is a comprehensive set of questions with 77 criteria, plus several sub-criteria. So it is not straightforward. We must prove that we do everything we say we do.

Gothenburg was already ranked highest in 2016 when the GDSI was carried out for the first time. What has changed since then?

The index has become increasingly global and has consequently changed. More American destinations have joined, and it is noticeable that certain issues, such as diversity, equality and inclusion, have a greater importance there. They have a long tradition of addressing these issues, whereas we in Europe may have focused more on the environment and climate.

When will we know if Gothenburg retains its top position in 2024?

We will find out in October when the Global Destination Movement reveals the results of this year’s benchmark.