Washington DC, United States of America

Contact: Shelby Luzzi

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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.

Total

0%

Environmental

Social

Supplier

Destination Management Organisation

Environmental

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.

Social

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.

Supplier

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

Summary
Environmental
Supplier
Social

The USA's capital city has built a path towards greener living, visiting and meeting. Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization of Washington, DC, works closely with the city’s government to ensure the impact of the tourism, meetings and events industry is felt positively by the city’s residents and businesses. By focusing on People, Purpose and Place, DDC serves as a steward of its member businesses and secures the longevity of the city’s attractiveness to both visitors and residents.

Does Destination DC have a Sustainability Strategy?

Does Washington DC have a sustainable destination certificate?

Does Destination DC report on its sustainability performance?

Understanding that a great place to live is a great place to visit, Washington, DC’s goal is to become the healthiest, greenest and most livable city. The District has a history of leadership in sustainability within the United States; it was named the first LEED Platinum city in the world in 2017 and launched the nation’s first 100 percent renewable energy bill in 2018. To date, the city’s government has released some of the most aggressive, fastest-acting climate change legislation in the country. The city approaches climate change from two sides: adaptation and mitigation. It is committed to becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2045, with a 60% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. The city’s Sustainable DC 2.0 plan serves as a roadmap in its fight against climate change and is rooted in community priorities for equitably improving health, affordability, accessibility, and economic opportunity. Washington, DC has taken many steps to reducing consumption, reusing materials and recycling eligible waste throughout the city. The District's Zero Waste DC Plan, released in 2024, establishes a unified strategy for the city to achieve our goal of diverting 80% of the entire citywide waste stream away from landfill and incineration by 2040. With 40-plus hotels within walking distance of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the ease of commuting within the nation's capital is a key benefit for travelers. DC sets the scene for sustainable commuting with 246 miles (396 km) of bike lanes and trails and the second-busiest light rail system in the United States. DDC’s internal Sustainability Task Force ensure the organization’s own operations are in alignment with its messaging and the city’s overall environmental sustainability goals.

33%

OF ELECTRICITY
FROM RENEWABLES

0%

OF WASTE
RECYCLED

546 ha

HECTARES OF GREEN
AREA PER 100 000
POPULATION

DDC staff includes information about the city’s sustainability initiatives in every proposal sent to clients. Included in those materials is a sustainability checklist encouraging planners to consider the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainability while planning a meeting. The Connected Community initiative helps organizers planning events in DC connect with community partners to develop programs aligned with their mission and values. Serving as a facilitator and impact manager, DDC helps association and corporate groups leave a lasting legacy in the city. DDC’s Sustainability District program allows business events clients to choose suppliers from a vetted list of member businesses, ensuring their negative impacts are managed before ever stepping foot in the destination.

9%

OF HOTEL ROOMS
SUSTAINABILITY
CERTIFIED

0%

OF VENUES
SUSTAINABILITY
CERTIFIED

0%

OF PCOS/DMCS
SUSTAINABILITY
CERTIFIED

DDC has historically promoted businesses and experiences in the neighborhoods of all four quadrants of the destination, so that businesses everywhere can benefit from the visitors the organization helps bring to the city. DDC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Business Fellowship is an intentional effort to expand the demographic makeup of its member businesses, ensuring the economic benefits of the tourism, meetings and events industry are accessible to all groups. This program was recognized with the GDS-Movement Innovation Award in 2023. DDC also launched The DEI District content hub in 2020, encouraging visitors to visit, meet, learn and engage more deeply with the people and culture of Washington, DC. Destination DC is committed to showing locals and visitors alike that the District is a place that promotes and validates diversity, equity and inclusion. Internally, DDC’s DEI Task Force and Accessibility Sub-Committee are charged with training and educating staff on the principles of DEI, and advocating social and economic sustainability principles in the organization.

SDG IMPLEMENTATION SCORE

SCORE ON SOCIAL PROGRESS INDEX

SCORE ON CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX

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