Gothenburg is at the top among the world’s most sustainable cities for the fourth year in a row according to the Global Destination Sustainability Index 2019. This was revealed on Wednesday at ICCA World congress in Houston.

Annika Hallman recieved the prize from Guy Bigwood, GDSI, and James Reese, ICCA. Photo: Buller


The GDSI was launched by MCI-Group together with the international organisation ICCA. On Wednesday October 30thAnnika Hallman, Director at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, was able to accept the award on behalf of Gothenburg:

“In recent years, Gothenburg has taken a leading role and inspired other destinations to become more sustainable. We have lectured and received study visits from other cities and used our top position to drive the development towards a more sustainable meeting industry, as well as strengthening Gothenburg’s profile as a leading congress and convention destination”, says Annika Hallman.

The ranking was made for the first time in 2016 and this year the interest has been greater than ever, and the level of performance has improved. More than 50 cities and destinations participated and among the newcomers this year are Denver, Brisbane and Lyon. The top three cities were Gothenburg followed by Copenhagen and Zurich.

Another achievement was when Gothenburg recently was appointed European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 by the European Commission. Here, too, the city’s work on sustainability is a weighty reason and Gothenburg was also awarded the special award in the category of sustainability.

“More and more cities are looking at Gothenburg and next year there will be a major focus on how to work to become smarter in areas such as digitalization, accessibility, culture and sustainability”, says Peter Grönberg CEO of Göteborg & Co.

GDSI measures all elements of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. But to gain a high ranking, it is not enough just to involve the hospitality trade, with facilities and hotels; the city as a whole must also be engaged in sustainability issues.

The cities are assessed based on several criteria: such as how effectively the city recycles and disposes of waste, environmental certification of hotels and restaurants, emissions of greenhouse gases, accessibility, the traffic situation, rental bike systems and whether both public and private stakeholders have sustainability strategies in place.

To find out more about the survey and the results for all cities involved, please see:

Gothenburg is the most hospitable city in Europe! Christina Bonnevier from Gothenburg Tourist Centre, which is part of Göteborg & Co, recently accepted the ECM TIC Hostmanship Award 2019 in Ghent, Belgium. The award recognises that she is the best in Europe at greeting visitors.

Christina Bonnevier. Photo: Peter Kvarnström/Göteborg & Co.

“I think this competition is brilliant because it focuses on emotional human values in our encounters with visitors. It feels absolutely fantastic and it’s a great honour to win,” says Christina Bonnevier.

Christina was nominated for the award by her manager, Annelie Karlsson. In her nomination, Annelie Karlsson stressed that working in a tourist centre is a way of life and makes you more aware of what is happening in the city and who comes to visit it. The most significant encounters do not always happen in the tourist centre itself. One such encounter took place in Heden car park one morning, and also played a part in Christina’s nomination.

“I met a foreign family who were here on a visit, and they did not have a credit card that would work in the ticket machine. They were on their way to a meeting and were very short of time. I offered to pay their half-day ticket, but they were reluctant as they wanted to pay me back as soon as possible. I told them they could come to the tourist centre and ask for me, which they did later that day. They were very grateful and relieved,” says Christina.

As well as being the best tourist adviser in Europe, Christina Bonnevier is also an authorised city guide and speaks five languages ​​fluently: Swedish, Danish, English, Spanish and French. Her job also involves authorising city guides and assisting with the city’s tourism site,

Göteborg & Co invests in personal service by operating the city’s tourist centres, which welcome around 400,000 visitors each year. The company also invests in the website,, which is growing steadily and attracts almost three million unique visitors annually. Good hospitality involves a combination of digital tools and human encounters, which together ensure the best possible results. As a result of good hostmanship these visitors become valuable ambassadors for Gothenburg.

The TIC Hostmanship Award is presented by the ECM European Cities Marketing organisation, which is made up of members from European tourism organisations. To win the award as Europe’s best tourist adviser, a nomination is first required from one’s manager, and the winner is then selected by the management of TIC Expert Group, which is made up of representatives from ten cities. The award was presented in Ghent on October 24, and Christina Bonnevier was there to receive it.

Gothenburg crosses the Atlantic

Published by Linda Nordberg 15 October, 2019 in Meetings.

In mid-September, Gothenburg exhibited for the first time at IMEX America, the largest annual international trade fair in the US. 3,500 buyers from 68 countries attended the fair, so it was an important strategic decision to participate and use the opportunity to showcase Gothenburg as a meeting destination.

Maria Thylén from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre/Gothia Towers, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson from Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, recently arrived home from a successful visit to Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, where the fair IMEX America took place on 11–13 September. Gothenburg exhibited at the fair alongside the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers and others in the Scandinavian Pavilion.

A number of other destinations and companies exhibited in the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

Several mailouts were sent to registered visitors before the fair to generate interest in Gothenburg as a meeting destination and arrange individual meetings. The mailouts focused on the city’s food culture, natural beauty and activities, as well as more meeting-related benefits such as venues, collaboration across the city and its commitment to sustainability. These benefits typically mean that organisers and delegates are impressed with Gothenburg as a host city for meetings. Delegates booked many individual meetings through Eva as a result of the mailouts. Aside from these meetings, most customers visited the stand spontaneously, as they see Gothenburg as an attractive destination.

Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Eva Ahlm Tobisson

“We naturally had many questions about what visitors can do in Gothenburg and its surroundings, where the coast, countryside and food appeal to visitors. Some of them checked us out because they realise that sustainability is becoming a higher priority for meetings and is an area where Gothenburg stands out. Often they also work with companies that have links to Gothenburg. Last but not least, Gothia Towers and the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre are unique in Europe for their size and location. This is something that the US market identified as one of the big advantages of Gothenburg,” explains Eva.

Apart from all the individual meetings, the uniting theme at the Scandinavian Pavilion this year was “Take a liking to a Viking”, which included Viking snacks and an interactive quiz for visitors.

Viking quiz at the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

It has not yet been decided whether there will be a repeat visit to IMEX America next year.

“We will evaluate the results to determine if there is value in returning next year. But my immediate reaction is that it was really worthwhile and there is a lot of interest in Gothenburg. So in this case we must hope that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas,” concludes Eva.

Gothenburg, Sweden, was awarded The European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 at a ceremony in Helsinki on 9 October. The title is awarded by The European Commission aiming at rewarding cities with the smartest, most innovative and inclusive approaches to tourism development. “This marks the start of a new era for Gothenburg. We are going from smart to smarter, and we intend to be a motor for the entire EU”, said the city’s representative Peter Grönberg.

Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co and the Lord Mayor of Gothenburg Anneli Rhedin are happy to receive the award in Helsinki.

35 cities from 17 EU-countries took part in the competition that evaluates candidates from four categories: sustainability, accessibility, digitalisation and culture & creativity. Ten was selected for the final presentation in Helsinki.

In the entry for The European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 award, Gothenburg focused on strengths in all four categories and on being ready to share best practices and learnings with other destinations.

Gothenburg is in the digital frontline, with high connectivity and a large number of tech companies. Also, the city is a leader in sustainability, with a number one ranking in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

– As Lord Mayor of Gothenburg, it is very rewarding to be here in Helsinki to discuss Gothenburg as a smart destination. We are very proud of our city and we work hard to win even more people’s confidence to visit us, said Anneli Rhedin, Lord Mayor of Gothenburg.

– This is a recognition to all the work and creativity that our local partners put in when it comes to making Gothenburg a smart destination. We know that investing in sustainability, accessibility, digitalisation, culture and creativity is wise. With the help from the title, we will be an even stronger ambassador for this mindset, said Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co, the destination management organisation of Gothenburg.

Outtake from Gothenburg’s entry:

Being smart makes what is good even better. Our pocket-sized metropolis has for 400 years gathered people who believe in international and cultural exchange. To anyone who perceive “smart” as a tech term we wish to show another side: a side filled with warmth, inclusiveness and human values. Gothenburg is a sustainable city open to the world.

Ian Milsom is Consultant Gynaecologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, where he leads work in female and paediatric health. Ian is also the initiator and chairman of the 49th International Continence Society (ICS) Annual Meeting which was held in Gothenburg at the start of September. The congress was visited by almost 2,000 people from around 70 countries and many of the delegates are well-renowned international experts in incontinence and pelvic floor disorders.
We had an opportunity to ask Ian some questions about his experiences of the congress. 

Ian Milsom och Daniel Snowdon, Executive Director ICS
Ian Milsom and Daniel Snowdon, Executive Director ICS. Photo: Anna Hylander/Göteborg & Co

Hello Ian! Tell us a little about the conference …

There were roughly 2,000 delegates at the conference from many different occupational fields, including urologists, gynaecologists, geriatricians, and general practitioners, as well as researchers and physiotherapists. The largest proportion of delegates came from the US, but there were also many from Japan and other parts of the world. Because the congress was held in Sweden we also saw more Swedes visiting the congress than in previous years.

So now it’s over, are you pleased with the results?

During the congress lots of people came up to me and said they felt the congress was really good and that the programme content was useful and relevant. It was nice to hear that. And we also had full audiences in the lecture halls.

We had worked hard on the congress for a couple of years and very intensively in the final year. When we brought the congress to Gothenburg it was in competition with around ten other destinations. In the end it was between us, Paris, Glasgow and Prague. So it was naturally great to hear positive feedback on the congress. Many people were also impressed by the way that the conference halls, exhibition and everything else were integrated with the hotel. Often you attend the congress until 17.00, then there is a social event at 19.00. So it’s good to have everything on the doorstep.

We got a great deal of help from the congress organiser, Kenes, and they were also impressed by Gothenburg as a city for meetings, and extremely pleased with the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers, just like us. We also got a lot of support from Gothenburg Convention Bureau, especially Anna Hylander and Annika Hallman. Andreas Wiktorsson was the project manager in charge for the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, and we were also very pleased with all the aspects relating to planning and premises.

It feels as if we have done something worthwhile for Gothenburg – that we have helped to make more people fans of Gothenburg as a city of meetings and events. The only improvement we could have wished for was some better weather during the week of the congress.

How do you think Gothenburg compares to other European cities?

Gothenburg compares very well! Many people noticed the benefits, and for example took the airport shuttle bus instead of a taxi. The journey from the airport was short and it gave you a chance to talk to colleagues on the bus. Many visitors were also impressed by the hotels and restaurants in Gothenburg and by the choice and quality of food.

Some congress delegates also brought their partners along on the trip, and even their children, and they found there were plenty of activities for them. Some shopped, while others visited the museums. Poseidon was obviously an attraction and because ICS uses Poseidon as a graphic symbol lots of people wanted to visit the statue. All the flowers around Poseidon, in Götaplatsen square, made it a beautiful sight.

Some people also decided to come here before the congress started and use the opportunity to visit the fantastic coast and islands.

A dinner was held in the congress hall at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre. How important is it to have social events during a congress? By the way, I heard it was a big success …

Yes, it was a success. Many people were impressed by the way a congress hall could be transformed into a banquet hall in that way and I had to explain how it was done.
The main point of a congress is naturally to exchange knowledge, but yes, I believe it is very important to have social activities that enable people to network. It’s a chance to get to know others in your profession.

The City of Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland also gave a fine presentation during the welcome speeches. It was also a good opportunity to make contacts.
A number of smaller social events were also arranged.

What do you hope visitors took home from the congress?

That they felt the scientific content was good. We had a scientific committee that advised on the content to ensure it was as interesting as possible. I naturally hope that the delegates learned something and feel encouraged to test new treatments and offer new treatment advice. And that they got to know others in the same occupational field and have the opportunity to exchange knowledge in the future and drive the research forwards.

I also hope that people want to come back to Gothenburg. In fact I know one delegate from Cairo who is planning to come back to go canoeing.

Next year’s congress will be held in Las Vegas, US.

This autumn’s program for Student Göteborg kicked off on September 17th with a big welcome ceremony at the Museum of World Culture, where around 700 students participated in the evening’s activities.

Photo: Göteborg & Co

It is really packed at the Museum of World Culture tonight where all new students in Gothenburg are gathered for the launch of Student Göteborg’s autumn activities. The evening starts with food and drinks, followed by speeches of Chalmers’ rector and the University of Gothenburg’s vice rector. Various art and music performances will complete the evening. Some students came in group, others came to the launch by themselves to meet and mingle with future classmates.

We meet Lucie, Bérénice and Charles who arrived in Sweden a month ago. They came from France to study architecture at Chalmers and look forward to the next nine months in Gothenburg. All three are excited about the activities the program has to offer.

− It is really nice that so much is arranged for the students! says Charles. While Lucie looks forward to the football match between IFK Gothenburg and IK Sirius, Lucie chooses to focus on art and the museum tours arranged in October. Boat trips also seem to be fun, everyone agrees.

Lucie, Charles och Bérénice came from Paris, France,to study architecture at Chalmers. Photo: Göteborg & Co

We leave the trio and meet Ophelia, who has come here from Shanghai, China, to read a two-year Master in Strategic Human Resources Management at the University of Gothenburg. She admits that she doesn’t know much about Gothenburg yet, but has signed up for many welcome activities to get to know the city in an exciting way.

– I am very happy to be here and feel a very warm welcome from Gothenburg. Student Göteborg and other activities organized by the university help students explore the city as well as meet and mingle with persons that one would not have met in other circumstances, says Ophelia.

Ophelia thinks that Student Göteborg offers a nice way to discover and explore the city. Photo: Göteborg & Co

Student Göteborg started in 2006 with the aim of making it easier for new students to get to know each other and discover all the city has to offer. The program organizes welcome activities and creates meeting places for national and international students. Student Göteborg is an investment from the Trade and Industry Group at Göteborg & Co in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers and the student unions.

Two of Sweden’s biggest private employers are located in Gothenburg – Volvo Cars and Volvo Group. Roughly a quarter of a million people in the Gothenburg region depend on these two companies for their livelihood, either directly or indirectly.

Paul Welander in front of a vintage Volvo P 1800

“A wide spectrum of businesses depend on our presence in the city, from the smallest hot dog stand to a large part of the service sector,” says Paul Welander, Senior Vice President at Volvo Cars.

In light of this, he finds it disturbing when some people glibly suggest that the automotive industry will disappear within a decade.

“What does the automotive industry contribute to society? We create opportunities for everybody to get around and have more freedom. Moreover, our vehicles are constantly being developed to become more sustainable and more integrated with other transport solutions,” he says.

He adds that in future, the automotive industry needs to get more involved in Gothenburg’s development as a city.

“As a company, we want to have a higher purpose and give back to society. We’re not just here to earn money; we want to improve safety. We have a vision that nobody will be seriously injured in a Volvo vehicle in 2020. When we invented the three-point seat belt, we made the design free for other automotive manufacturers to use. The same philosophy applies to many of our safety solutions.”

Volvo Cars made headlines by declaring that 50% of its sold cars would be all-electric by 2025, and it’s important to meet this target.

“It’s hard to predict how self-driving and connected vehicles will impact on people’s time, but we hope to be able to give back a week of quality time per year by 2025. This is equivalent to the time drivers typically spend in tailbacks today.

“We all depend on smooth-running infrastructure and mobility, and efficient transport is necessary to attract more outside investment. This is especially true in a city with canals and trams like Gothenburg. We must think bigger in terms of social economy.”

Paul’s background is in polymer engineering, but he has worked most of his career in the automotive industry.

“I love the core of this culture, that people are our central focus and that we offer products that are relevant to everyone.”

He remembers one Friday night when he and his wife had parked outside a restaurant in a newly launched Volvo XC60. A man came up and spoke to them.

“He asked if I liked the car. I said that I certainly did. ‘So do I, because I built it,’ said the guy, smiling proudly.”

Paul doesn’t think this kind of pride could have been created anywhere else.

“If Volvo Cars had been headquartered in Stockholm, we’d have been a different company. Our history, with the textile industry that created SKF, which in turn created Volvo, could only happen here. And with the city’s harbour and shipyards, Volvo and Gothenburg are constantly strengthening each other.”

Paul gives us a tour of the Volvo Museum. It’s an exciting journey through Sweden’s industrial history and social development with a large dose of nostalgia. Plans are underway to make this history more accessible to everyone visiting Gothenburg. Discussions are in progress about creating an activity and experience centre next to Liseberg, Sweden’s largest amusement park, which is currently investing in a big new family hotel and water park.

Liseberg’s CEO Andreas Andersen is very positive to these plans.

“The synergy is clear for all three players: Gothenburg, Volvo and Liseberg. From a national perspective, Liseberg is a leading brand – one of Sweden’s top five – but internationally, Volvo has a stronger brand than either Liseberg or Gothenburg. When I’m abroad I sometimes get asked if I’m from Volvo city,” he says.

Copyright: Ulrica Segersten (text), Samuel Unéus (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire Magazine (in Swedish) click here.

A young startup company in Gothenburg has developed an easy-to-use method for detecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The idea was born when two young researchers met and decided to start a joint business.

Kristina Lagerstedt and Susanne Staaf started 1928 Diagnostics to fight resistant bacteria

Working in a partnership produces stronger and better results than working individually. That was the reasoning that led Kristina Lagerstedt and Susanne Staaf to start 1928 Diagnostics. They met when they were both conducting research and working for a large pharmaceutical company in Gothenburg. The two colleagues got on so well that they decided to start a business venture.
“How difficult can that be?” says Kristina, laughing. She laughs a lot during our interview at Stena Center at Chalmers University of Technology, where many startup companies rent premises and gain inspiration from each other.

She says it helps when you know it’s okay to make mistakes – a mentality that is perhaps more prevalent in Gothenburg than in many other places.
“But of course you’re fantastic at doing things right,” interjects Susanne.
Molecular biology was really flourishing at the time when they were both research students. There was a widespread feeling in the pharmaceutical company that anything was possible. They frequently found themselves talking over dinner about what makes a successful enterprise and realised that many successful entrepreneurs work and run joint ventures with friends.
“Around this time, we decided to set up business together. The next step was to come up with an idea or a project,” says Kristina.

They aired their ideas with entrepreneur friends, who were impressed by their enthusiasm but couldn’t see a core concept. Then an idea emerged that was so clear it nearly sold itself. This is how they describe the company on their website:
“1928 Diagnostics is a Swedish company based in Gothenburg with strong ties to both the tech and science community, bridging knowledge from biology and medicine into software development. Our mission is to use technology to build important services that can be used in healthcare to address the growing and alarming problem of antimicrobial resistance. Sweden is our home base, but we are operating globally, and look forward to meeting you wherever our paths will cross. Join us in the fight against antibiotic resistance.”

When Sir Alexander Fleming won the 1945 Nobel Prize for discovering antibiotics (in 1928), he warned the world about the risks of antibiotic misuse. “We will enter a post-antibiotic era with grave consequences,” he cautioned. Over 70 years later, around 33,000 Europeans die every year from antibiotic resistance. This problem could become deadlier than cancer by 2050.

And this is where the business idea comes in that appeals to investors and employees alike.
“We realised that by creating a cloud-based software that enables faster analysis of bacteria, we could offer an intelligent method for infection control. You could call it smart infection tracking,” says Susanne.
The business has been quick to take off. Some experts believe antibiotic resistance is as great a threat to humanity as climate change or lack of clean water. Kristina and Susanne visited hospitals to confirm the need for their product. Since then, they’ve had no problem raising venture capital and have made a smooth transition from being researchers to entrepreneurs.
“Our prior experience of pharmaceuticals prepared us well. It taught us that things take time and to think globally from the outset. Antibiotic resistance is a global health problem that calls for wise initiatives that are globally effective.

“In urban areas such as Manhattan, 60 percent of bacteria are multi-resistant, and the figure in Mediterranean countries is 35 percent. In poor countries that lack clean water and hand-washing facilities, colistin-resistant bacteria spread like wildfire. When this happens, there is a thousandfold increase in the risk of not being able to treat them with antibiotics.”
Kristina believes that although the situation is critical, it can be remedied.

“But this requires greater collaboration between healthcare, enterprise, the WHO, national authorities and multinational corporations. It’s not just the healthcare sector and authorities that need to address the issue of antibiotic resistance; companies do as well.
“More and more major companies are opting to allocate profits for beneficial causes. Social responsibility is becoming an increasingly important part of companies’ business concept and is key in recruiting young people. They are much more concerned about ethics and beneficial causes.”

Copyright: Ulrica Segersten (text), Samuel Unéus (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire Magazine (in Swedish) click here.

Anna Hylander, Project Manager Göteborg & Co Möten/Gothenburg Convention Bureau. Photo: Linda Nordberg/Göteborg & Co

Anna Hylander is one of the people who was closely involved in preparations for the Associations World Congress & Expo (AWC) and was also at the congress, when almost 500 international visitors gathered at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in April. The congress was backed by the Association of Association Executives (AAE).

Hi Anna, how did the event work out?
“Really well, nearly 500 delegates from all over the world took part and we got excellent feedback afterwards.”

What was the most enjoyable part of the process?
“All the international contacts and making plans to host the congress. Linking together all the different contributors, from politicians and people in research and the visitor industry, to specially invited guests and speakers, and of course the association’s team.
“It was also good to be able to show how a meeting can be organised sustainably, getting environmental certification for the entire congress and sharing our knowledge by contributing local expertise to the programme.”

Gothenburg Convention Bureau is not usually involved in organising meetings, why was this the case for AWC?
“Yes, that’s right. Normally we provide support during all the stages that are needed to bring a congress to Gothenburg. That can involve strategies, application documents, marketing materials, valuable contacts in the city, advice and information.
“But AWC was a strategic initiative that also required active hosting on our part. It is a step in raising awareness of Gothenburg as a meeting destination and showing off the city to the people who decide where international congresses are held. And we were successful in that.”

What was the best part of the congress?
“The positive feedback about the programme. And that we managed to get prominent local figures as speakers, for example from Volvo Car Group and Nobel Media. It also gave us the chance to showcase local innovations, in medical technology and bio-printing for example, and to feature choir singing as a link to the European Choir Games.
“There were already a lot of people in the city when AWC began, as it coincided with the end of EuroHorse. So the city was buzzing with lots of activity when the delegates got here.”

How does it feel now it’s all over?
“Brilliant! Everyone is so pleased with the experience and that we hosted it successfully. The food was great and the staff were praised by everyone. Especially at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre / Gothia Towers and when the celebrity chefs turned up and surprised everyone at the congress dinner at Kajskjul 8 on behalf of Gothenburg Restaurant Association and ‘Taste of Gothenburg’.”
“There were so many delegates who wanted to learn more about Gothenburg and stayed an extra day to join the Destination Day we organised, with visits to AstraZeneca in Mölndal, Lindholmen Science Park and the new centre for artificial intelligence.”

What do you hope visitors took home from the congress?
“Naturally I hope they feel that it was the best programme ever. I also hope they got a positive image of Gothenburg as a sustainable meeting destination and feel inspired to come to future meetings and congresses, whether they are held here or somewhere else in the world. But of course I hope that organisers see us as a natural choice for upcoming congresses.”


Every year Gothenburg Convention Bureau attends a variety of trade fairs and congresses to gather business intelligence, build relationships and market Gothenburg as a city of meetings. In May, Gothenburg Convention Bureau attended the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt along with local partners and the Swedish Network of Convention Bureaus.

As well as being an opportunity to meet new and existing customers, the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt in May was a chance to get feedback on the Association World Congress & Expo, which was held in April and was attended by many of the delegates at the fair. Gothenburg received some very positive feedback from customers, as a city of meetings.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, from Gothenburg Convention Bureau, and Maria Thylén, from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, gave a well-attended talk about Gothenburg at IMEX.
“It was great to see so many people interested in Gothenburg as a city of meetings. People are really opening their eyes and realising the benefits of arranging meetings here: you can walk everywhere, competitive pricing, venues, service level, and not least our collaboration with academia and industry,” says Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager for Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Maria Thylén, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson, Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

The city’s ranking as a leading global destination for sustainable meetings in the ICCA Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) is being used to drive the meetings industry in a more sustainable direction, and at the same time raise Gothenburg’s profile as a city of meetings. At the fair, Göteborg & Co’s head of sustainability, Katarina Thorstensson, held a popular workshop for the international meetings industry on Gothenburg’s sustainability initiatives. Guy Bigwood, initiator behind the GDS-Index, also contributed during the workshop.

Guy Bigwood, from the GDS Index, and Katarina Thorstensson, from Göteborg & Co, talk about sustainability initiatives.

IMEX attracts more than 5,000 meeting organisers from all over the world, and because this is one of the key events for bringing meetings to the city, we attend every year.

Here you can see which other events Gothenburg Convention Bureau will be attending during the year.

Before the age of 30, Lisa Emelia Svensson had already gained a PhD and landed a top job in New York. Today her stellar career has led her all the way to the United Nations, where she is Global Director for Oceans. Her favourite place is a small island in the West Sweden Archipelago.

Lisa Emelia Svensson at her favourite island, Käringön.

Lisa’s career path has been unusually linear. But it wasn’t mapped out like this from the outset. Although she comes from an enterprising family, she grew up far from the world of big business and politics.” She and her four siblings were raised in Bohuslän in West Sweden, and their lives centred more around the sea than the house.
“My father spent a lot of time at sea and encouraged us to do the same. I learned to love the sea and the archipelago from an early age. It determined how I saw the world. We had the vast sea in front of us, and beyond it was the rest of the world – which I became very curious to explore.

After graduating from the Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law, Lisa applied to the Swedish Trade Council for an international trainee position. She landed the job and was posted in New York.
“I loved being there. People say big cities are stressful, but for me it was the opposite. My first feeling was one of calm. The rest of the world was moving, and I could stand still in the midst of it.”

After a time in New York, she returned to Sweden to start the internship programme of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This was followed by work at the Swedish Embassy in Washington and as a trade negotiator at the European Commission in Brussels. Lisa also spent a year as Diplomat-in-Residence at John Hopkins University, where she also finished her doctoral dissertation as well as a book on climate change.

Käringön is located north of Gothenburg with the open sea just outside.

Back in Sweden, she started working as Ambassador for Sustainable Enterprise.
“At that time, sustainability and CSR were not yet strongly established. It wasn’t unusual for people in prominent business positions to say that they were only interested in results. Today nobody would claim that companies don’t have a strong responsibility for sustainability.”

Many companies today are taking important initiatives to promote these issues. For example, Lisa points out that Volvo has transitioned from primarily selling cars to focusing more on how to meet people’s mobility needs. Volvo is also phasing out disposable parts and aims for 25% recycled plastics in all Volvo cars from 2025.
“The great added value of this is that it creates a pressure in the market and can encourage more companies to use recycled plastic for other types of production. This can be a way of initiating and driving change. It is crucial to our future that more companies set this type of example.”

Sustainability has been Lisa’s primary focus area since she became Ambassador for Sustainable Enterprise. Her work has focused particularly on matters regarding the sea.
“There’s something about the sea that always attracts me. I don’t know what it is; maybe I’ve got salt in my veins! There’s something out there in the waves that never stops beckoning me. However, the sea is endangered and there is a widespread lack of knowledge on how to manage and utilise its resources sustainably.”

Two years ago, the United Nations called to offer her the post of Global Director of Oceans at the UN Environment Office. She accepted without hesitation. Since then her office has been in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Using the United Nations Environment Programme as a platform for promoting marine issues seemed like a natural path forward. My greatest motivating force has always been curiosity and an urge to explore and understand new contexts. And now that I’ve gained an understanding of this context, I’ll be happy to move on to new challenges.”Her work involves a lot of travel and she’s seen many exotic places across the globe. But deep in her heart there’s always one place she’d rather be.

“The best thing in life is nature. Walking barefoot on rocky cliffs is what gives me energy. Even if I’m on the most beautiful exotic island in the world, there’s no place I’d rather be than a wet, stony cliff in Bohuslän or outside my house on the island of Käringön. That’s bliss for me.”

Working with sustainability and being Global Director for Oceans is no easy job. Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year. If people continue to use the sea as a dumping ground at this rate, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
“So much stuff just gets pumped into the sea. People think it will just disappear,” says Lisa. “But of course it won’t. There is a strong link between the ocean and climate change. The world’s oceans absorb nearly a third of our carbon emissions, and seaweed beds bind carbon.”

Half of the carbon stored in living organisms is in the sea. The sea is crucial to our survival, but the overall context is not explained and communicated in a way that decision-makers and the public can easily grasp.
However, she points out that there’s hope. Awareness about climate and sustainability has steadily increased, and more and more individuals are making conscious and climate-friendly choices.
“We need to find creative systemic solutions that are based on science. Even if people stop buying plastic bags at the supermarket, a systemic solution is needed to bring about real changes. And that’s what we’ve got to find.”

Copyright: Magnus Carlsson (text), Katja Ragnstam (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire magazine (in Swedish) click here.

For the first time ever, Sweden will be organizing a Champions League final. This was decided by the UEFA Executive Committee when they appointed Gothenburg as host for the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2021.

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson

– This is a milestone in Swedish football history. As of this year, the Women’s Champions League final is a separate event, and the final played in Budapest in May showed the positive progress for women’s football, says Swedish Football Association’s chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson.

– Gothenburg will once again host a major sporting event and the fact that it’s about women’s football makes us extra happy. We are also looking forward to paying attention to Gothenburg’s 400th anniversary with the help of the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2021, says Magnus Hallberg Director of Events at Göteborg & Co.

The final will be played in May 2021 at Gamla Ullevi, the Swedish women’s football national arena.