The GDS-Index is a destination-level programme that measures, benchmarks, and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of tourism and events destinations.

The GDS-Index is aligned with international standards; UN SDGs, GSTC Destination Criteria, UNWTO.

Click here to read more about the benchmarking methodology including data collection and verification, the four benchmarking categories, governance and criteria development and performance scoring methods.

This page highlights each destinations sustainability journey and will showcase their journey.

Performance Overview

The 2023 GDS-Index comprises 69 indicators across four categories. Here is the total score and the score for the four categories for this destination.






Destination Management Organisation


Includes a city's performance pertaining to its policies and infrastructure, such as climate change commitment, carbon emissions, renewable energies, resource and water management, public transport, and air pollution levels.


Indicates the performance of the city against indicators of SDG integration, Corruption, Personal Safety, Access to Information and Communications, Health and Wellness, and Inclusivity, using external sources such as the Social Progress Imperative Index, and Corruption Perceptions Index.


Addresses the sustainability commitment and performance of the local meetings' industry supply chain, including airports, events agencies, hotels, venues, and restaurants.

Destination Management Organisation

Indicates the sustainability commitment, including questions pertaining to maturity of a destination's sustainability and regeneration strategy, leadership, communication of sustainability initiatives (to support client planners), and the accuracy of their reporting on sustainability operations.

Sustainability Journey


The vibrant heart of Scandinavia. The cool and friendly little sister. Home to world-class restaurants, to diverse cultural scenes, sustainable living, and surrounded by beautiful nature. The world’s most sustainable destination according to GDS-Index. This is Gothenburg. We are a destination that wants to make an impact. Investing in sustainability is wise and aims to be a strong force for positive change. We also know that together, you go further. That’s why collaboration is a key element in our strategies and why we share our best practices freely to inspire other destinations. Gothenburg's approach to sustainability has through the years gained international recognition. The city has been the leader in the Global Destination Sustainability Index since 2016 (no ranking was made in 2020) and was the European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2020. Lonely Planet also named it the world's Best Sustainable City Stay 2021. In April 2022, Gothenburg became one of the European Union’s 100 climate-neutral and smart cities – forerunner cities on a mission towards climate neutrality 2030. Gothenburg is also a European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Awards winner. With a vision of being fossil-independent by 2030, smart accessibility and mobility with 95 percent of public transport running on renewable energy, a sustainable tourism ecosystem with approximately 92 percent of environmentally certified hotel rooms, a strong legacy program for events and meetings, and a strive for a more circular economy, we have made sustainability our business.

Does Göteborg & Co have a Sustainability Strategy?

Does Gothenburg have a sustainable destination certificate?

Does Göteborg & Co report on its sustainability performance?

Gothenburg is one of the most progressive cities worldwide when it comes to addressing climate and environmental issues. We were the first in the world to issue green bonds to accelerate investments in climate-oriented solutions, including waste management to renewable energy. It has resulted in structures beneficial to everyone. Gothenburg keeps pushing for change. The City of Gothenburg has set out to become fossil-independent by 2030 and to heavily reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, from traded and non-traded sectors, by 2050. In 2021, Göteborg & Co was one of the signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and strives to inspire other destinations and partners within the industry to follow their lead. With its project Gothenburg Green City Zone, the city tests the transport system of the future with new technology in both vehicles and infrastructure. The goal is for transport within the zone to be completely emission-free by 2030. There are already many alternatives to fossil-driven transports: electric carpools, charging stations for visitors, bike and electric scooter rental services, a taxi-fleet of 90 per cent low-emissions vehicles etc. Our airport is certified to the highest level of the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme and the airport shuttle run on rapeseed oil. Gothenburg is also home to WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award, an international prize awarded to role models who have turned words into actions and contribute to a more sustainable future. To preserve its beautiful nature, Sweden has the right of public access giving everyone the freedom to roam the Swedish countryside, put up a tent for the night, or go for a swim in a lake, as long as nature and other visitors are fully respected. To make sure that visitors can enjoy its hidden gem – the Gothenburg archipelago – in a respectful way, the city of Gothenburg made the southern islands accessible with public transport and completely car-free.





6029 ha

AREA PER 100 000

Gothenburg is a world-leading destination for sustainable meetings and events – rated #1 on the GDS Index 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023, and #1 in past ICCA Scandinavia Sustainability Index editions. The local meetings industry is a pioneer in ecological sustainability, inclusion and accessibility, and sees sustainability as part of its DNA. Eco-certified suppliers, venues run on renewables and the proximity of the city are crucial elements in achieving ecological sustainability. Gothenburg has a track record of successful collaborations when it comes to leading its sustainability work. Göteborg & Co and the Gothenburg Convention Bureau offer counselling/advice to event and meeting operators to take sustainability into account when planning a meeting in the ciyt. We ensure that meetings generate a long-term, positive impact for the association and the host community by offering Gothenburg Way to Legacy. All leading venues are eco-certified. Likewise, major attractions that are open to the public such as Universeum science centre, Liseberg amusement park, the Göteborg Opera, the Gothenburg Concert Hall and the Gothenburg Museum of Art meet up to world-class accessibility standards and are certified for their sustainability work. The latter even got three stars in the Michelin Green Guide. Gothenburg is one of the greenest hotel cities in the world and a wide range of restaurants, bars, and cafés chose sustainability as a main focus. From fine dining to café following the zero-waste principle, but even a lunch restaurant with only saved ingredients on the menu. Finally, Gothenburg as a city of events and meetings encourages sustainable development in the industry. Among them, Way Out West was the first music festival in the world to be certified to ISO 20121. The festival has become almost as well known for its commitment to sustainability as for its diverse choice of artists. The festival started serving entirely vegetarian meals in 2012, switched to organic beer in 2014, and became lactose-free the year after. The city festival Gothenburg Culture Festival, free and open to everyone, has since 2018 worked with the municipality to implement the initiative “Engångsfritt Kulturkalas” to decrease disposables during the event. The Gothenburg 400th anniversary event planned on June 2023 has also been certified according to SUSA - Sustainable Standards certification. Those events are living-lab platforms showing the way ahead in developing a sustainable meetings and events destination where inclusion and accessibility are key features.







International exchange and cultural diversity have always been a part of the Gothenburg DNA. Significant aspects are social sustainability and inclusion, and the city government is determined to fight segregation and close inequality gaps. The European Commission named Gothenburg as one of the European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity Awards winners in April 2022. The award is one of the EU anti-racism action plan deliverables and LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025. The city has received the European Access City Award for its strategic and structured work toward a city accessible for all. Sweden’s first municipal LGBT advisory board was established here in 2013, and hosting EuroPride in 2018 also acknowledges our efforts. Gothenburg is also the home of Sweden’s first toys library, Leksaksbibliotek, teaching the youngest about sharing economy and sustainability. The young reference group, Power to the Youth, aims to involve young people in the Gothenburg 400th anniversary initiatives development since 2014. The group also acts as young democracy consultants, for example in Sweden’s newest arena for democratic debate; Frihamnsdagarna. Sweden is an open, multicultural society, which has led to a vibrant, international environment. The country leads the Sustainable Competitiveness Index and the Good Country Index. Our country also holds top positions in Global Gender Gap Report and Corruption Perceptions Index. Generally, Sweden is considered one of the safest countries, largely corruption-free, with low crime rates and low health risks. This feeling of security is also enhanced by the fact that most of the population speaks English. Results that indeed go for Gothenburg as well.




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