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Meetings – Case Studies

Comprehensive sustainability work, positive impact on the local community, long-term meeting legacies and high delegate numbers – success can be measured in many ways. Get inspired by some of the success stories from Gothenburg.

Interested in learning about sustainable events? Find out here Sustainable Events.

IAGG-ER 2019 – Healthy ageing and prevention of ageism

AgeCap, Centre for Ageing and Health, at University of Gothenburg, was the local host of IAGG-ER 2019. Their vision is a society in which ageing is valued for potentials and older adults are respected – a society that enables us to be active agents in our own lives, independent of age and other factors. They spread and utilise research results, to increase the life quality for older persons and their participation in our society.

Årsrika photo exhibition in centrally located park Bältespännarparken, as part of the public programme.

By hosting IAGG-ER 2019, AgeCap wished to put the centre on the map, show off research performed by scientists linked to the centre and Swedish and Nordic research in general. They wished to focus on healthy ageing in Gothenburg and West Sweden and educate the public in order to counteract ageism.

Gothenburg Convention Bureau and representatives from the DMO Marketing & Communications department met with IAGG-ER Secretary General and AgeCap to discuss how they could ensure that the congress would contribute to AgeCap’s vision of a more inclusive society. Gothenburg Convention Bureau shared experiences from other congresses. The Executive Committee decided to bring the surrounding world into the congress and the congress topic on healthy ageing to the public. A second meeting took place, to continue the discussions on community and media engagement.

Some of the activities that were created and undertaken during the congress:

  • Årsrika photo exhibition at the city library, in two city parks and in the suburbs of Gothenburg. The focus of the exhibition was to influence and broaden the current narrow view of the older generation.
  • Free public seminar on ageing and ageism at the city library.
  • The Carin Mannheimer Award to young researchers in the research area of ageing, was handed out in an award ceremony at the city library.
  • The City of Gothenburg, City of Varberg and Region Västra Götaland sponsored day tickets for employees working in elderly care, to spend a day at the congress and educate themselves through access to the latest research. This was done for competence development purposes, to improve care and patient experiences and outcomes.
Bringing the surrounding world into the congress: A choir with older adults perform with a children’s choir on a stage in the exhibition and poster hall. To the left – a parking lot for walkers underneath a fashion photo exhibition with older adults as models.

A debrief was organised a couple of months after the congress. All stakeholders agreed that the goal of bringing the surrounding world into the congress and the congress topic on healthy ageing to the public had been reached. A two-year-follow-up will take place in 2021.

ICS 2019 – Increased research activity and local competence development

Incontinence research in Gothenburg has a strong reputation. In 2016, a new, multidisciplinary research centre on incontinence was established at University of Gothenburg. The Gothenburg Continence Research Center is the first of its kind in Sweden and has some of the world’s leading researchers within elderly care and incontinence associated with it. As part of the targeted effort to focus on incontinence research, Gothenburg applied for the International Continence Society Annual Meeting 2019.

At the two-year-follow-up meeting, it was clear that there had been a great increase in research activity at the Gothenburg Continence Research Center and an increase in the number of researchers who have chosen to conduct research in the field of incontinence. The ICS 2019 Annual Meeting had generated new research fellows and made it possible to further build on the amount of research produced in Gothenburg.

Also, for competence development purposes, and to improve care and ultimately patient experience and outcomes, the Gothenburg region’s main healthcare provider, Region Västra Götaland, provided financial support to local practitioners to attend ICS 2019.

AWC 2019 – sharing local knowledge and expertise with the world

In 2019, international associations executives gathered at Associations World Congress & Expo in Gothenburg, AWC 2019.

Gothenburg used AWC 2019 as an opportunity to share local knowledge and expertise with the participants. Association executives and representatives from the global meetings industry had the opportunity to listen to the experiences from successful association meetings in Gothenburg, such as ESOC 2018, on how to effectively engage the public in order to create positive impact and legacy in the local community. The participants learnt about the Gothenburg Strategic Plan for Meetings and many participants joined a Destination Day for in-depth knowledge on the city’s strong collaboration within the field of research and development. This was showcased through visits to well known R&D companies.

In keeping with Gothenburg being the world’s most sustainable destination, the congress was environmentally certified according to the Swedish Environmental Base. A high proportion of organic and locally produced ingredients were served. During one of the congress days, only vegetarian meals were served. Great efforts were made to minimise food waste. The participants were provided with their own water bottle and were asked to fill it with tap water.

ESOC 2018 – Public health promotion, extensive media attention, and raising interest in higher education amongst young people

One of the purposes of the European Stroke Organisation is to develop and promote professional and public education. The local host of ESOC 2018, Stroke Centre West, is a close cooperation between Region Västra Götaland, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. The goals of the centre include minimising the number of people getting stroke and working with health promotion. As part of hosting the European Stroke Organisation Conference, the local host and a number of local stakeholders, including the Gothenburg Convention Bureau, discussed how the conference could be used to teach the public how to detect stroke in a person and how to prevent stroke. The focus would be on physical movement as an important factor.

A number of activities were developed and undertaken during the congress:

  • Free public seminar on how to prevent stroke and rehab after stroke, with a panel of experts and patients. The seminar was attended by 250 people.
  • Free public lecture ‘’Stroke and physical activity’’ in conjunction with the annual Gothenburg Half Marathon.
  • Delegates were invited to run in the region’s main healthcare provider’s dedicated starting group in the annual Gothenburg Half Marathon: Run FAST Against Stroke, with the connection of running as a method to prevent stroke.
  • Targeted efforts towards media led to extensive media attention with focus on the patient perspective.
  • The local organising committee and the city also wished to use the opportunity to spike interest in higher education and research amongst young people. Stroke researchers visited four high schools with students in science and healthcare programmes to inform them about stroke and what it is like working as physicians/scientists, with subsequent study visits to the congress by the students.

More than 4,500 specialists from over 90 countries attended ESOC 2018.

ECOC 2017 – Structured sustainability efforts and social engagement

Conferences generally have considerable environmental impact. Environmental certification of meetings is encouraged by the city and helps the development of sustainability efforts.

When the European Conference on Optical Communication – ECOC was held in Gothenburg, the conference and exhibition attracted around 5,900 delegates from all over the world. In an effort to reduce the environmental impact, the conference organisers certified the conference for the first time, according to the Swedish Environmental Base (Svensk Miljöbas) criteria. But the organisation went beyond the certification in its sustainability efforts.

Instead of speaker gifts, the organiser donated 340 solar-powered lamps through the Swedish organisation Barnfonden. The lamps were delivered to children in remote areas in India, where life without light is a daily reality. The lamps allow children to read, do homework or other activities after sunset.

The organisers invested in a 30 hectar large rainforest project in Ecuador, to partially offset the delegates’ air travel to and from the conference. The forest is now called the ECOC-forest and future conferences can build on the initiative.

The ECOC-forest in Ecuador was an initiative that future conferences can build on.

Fewer meals contained meat and there were always vegetarian lunch options. The fish was MSC labelled, coffee and tea organically sourced and Fairtrade labelled.
The conference venue itself – the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre – is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability efforts. It is also located in the city centre, which meant visitors were able to easily walk to hotels and social events, and thus avoid the environmental effects of transport.


ECOC left a remaining footprint of increased sustainability efforts both in Gothenburg and for future conferences around Europe:

  • First launch of sustainability efforts for the ECOC series.
  • The requirements by the organisation made suppliers begin their own environmental/sustainability work.
  • Sponsors accepted using only environmentally certified material.
  • ”Green Platinum” was launched as a new highest level sponsor category.
  • The ECOC Forest is to be expanded in the future.
  • Improved situation for families in India with no access to light after sunset.
  • The international steering group committee of the conference will recommend all future ECOC organisers to continue the sustainability work, adapted to local circumstances.
  • A section on sustainability was included in the ECOC handbook.
  • Environmental certification of a large international conference, the largest so far in Sweden and an incentive to others to do the same.

European Obesity Summit 2016 – Children and the public engaged in a vital issue

The European Obesity Summit was held at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre to provide a platform for discussions on the key public health issue of obesity and the latest research on the subject. A total of 1,500 people took part of the programme and in connection with the summit, a public awareness initiative was developed to highlight the consequences of obesity for individuals and society as a whole. In parallel with the summit, the Universeum Science Centre and University of Gothenburg created a popular science exhibition on health, aimed at children, parents, teachers and healthcare staff. This type of knowledge transfer is one aspect of social sustainability that Gothenburg Convention Bureau is strongly committed to.

Swedental 2015 – Skills development and economic sustainability

In the run-up to the Annual National Dental Congress 2015 – Swedental – Gothenburg Convention Bureau, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Region Västra Götaland all worked together to promote the congress in the Gothenburg Region. For competence development purposes and to increase regional involvement, Region Västra Götaland invited all dentists, dental nurses and dental hygienists employed in the region to the congress and to a special training day. A special package offer was sent out to all delegates to encourage them to stay in Gothenburg for the weekend following the congress. The efforts to attract more delegates led to a 25% rise in participant numbers, which naturally improved financial viability for the organiser.

World of Coffee 2015 – increase employment amongst young people

The world’s greatest coffee roasters, brewers and baristas gathered in Gothenburg during the Midsummer Week in June 2015 when the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) hosted five major international coffee championships. The competitions took place at World of Coffee, SCAE’s flagship coffee event, which brings thousands of coffee professionals from over 100 countries around the world together each summer to exchange ideas, source products and learn about the latest developments in the industry at Europe’s premier coffee event.

Before World of Coffee took place, a marketing campaign was made towards staff at cafés and restaurants with the encouragement to participate at World of Coffee to increase their knowledge about coffee and to increase the level of quality on coffee served at cafés and restaurants in the city.

Marketing efforts were made together with the Restaurant Association of Gothenburg with an aim to educate more baristas in restaurants, cafés and hotels in order to get more young people into working life.
A tailor-made map with cafés in Gothenburg was produced and handed out to all delegates to encourage visits to the wide range of cafés in the city.

MCI Academy 2014 – Environmental diploma and successful collaboration

In 2014, one of the world’s largest congress organisers, MCI, held its annual round of staff training and certification in Gothenburg. Gothenburg Convention Bureau was involved in arranging the evening programme, and guests had the opportunity to visit the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, Gothenburg Museum of Art and a number of large hotels. MCI is committed to minimising its carbon footprint and welcomes ideas and feedback that can make its meetings as ecologically sustainable as possible. MCI also promotes destinations through a green sustainability policy and a clear commitment to social responsibility. MCI chose to obtain an environmental diploma for its meeting in Gothenburg, and this was achieved in record time since both the organiser and the conference centre already had a sustainable infrastructure for meetings in place. Coordination with other key organisations, including the City of Gothenburg Environment Administration and the DMO Göteborg & Co, also worked exceptionally well.