by Sarah J.F. Braley | March 10, 2016

Destinations committed to sustainability are being gathered into the new GDS-Index, a joint project from MCI, a global meetings firm based in Geneva, Switzerland; the IMEX industry trade shows, and the International Congress and Convention Association. 

"Planners will use the index to assess what destinations are doing around sustainability, and to compare their performance to other cities," said Guy Bigwood, MCI's group sustainability director. "It will show cities' forward-looking strategies and past performance."

Destinations are assessed across four main areas:

• Environmental performance: the action plans and infrastructure in place to minimize the destination's impact on the planet;
• Social performance: a destination's human-rights and ethics commitments and performance;
• Supplier performance: the sustainability commitments, plans and actions of key suppliers such as  hotels, caterers and agencies, looking at the percentage of suppliers with sustainability policy and certifications; and
• Convention bureau performance: the destination's sustainability-management process, the extent of support destination management organizations provide for clients around sustainability, and the capability-building initiatives implemented to promote sustainability in the local meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry. 

"Our vision is to have over 100 cities benchmarking and collaborating together by 2020," said Bigwood, who is also the project's leader. "Today, we have 25 Scandinavian cities based in Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden, as well as our first wave of global cities including Barcelona, Geneva, Stuttgart and Sydney."

Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, added: "The unique feature of the GDS-Index is that this is a bottom-up phenomenon, driven by the destinations themselves. The ICCA members in Scandinavia have invented a powerful engine to improve their destinations' sustainability and business competitiveness, and we are delighted that they want ICCA to help them share this with the whole world."