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Dubai Joins the Global Destination Sustainability Index



March 7, 2019, 6:23 am

In 2018, Dubai became the first city in the Middle East to join Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index, a group dedicated to highlighting best practices and responsible business-tourism initiatives.

The Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index is a collaborative business initiative created to help Destinations and Convention Bureaus, drive the adoption, promotion and recognition of responsible practices in the business tourism and events industry. The GDS-Index does this by measuring and comparing the social and environmental sustainability strategies, policies and performance of participating destinations and by sharing best practice from around the world.

The GDS-Index welcomed Dubai to the collaborative platform, acknowledging the Emirate’s great strides to become more sustainable, with further developments, including meeting a goal to produce 75 per cent of its energy requirements from clean sources by 2050.

“Issues around sustainability are of paramount importance across all sectors in Dubai. We are delighted to see this leadership from Dubai Business Events and its stakeholders across the city,” GDS-Index explained in its announcement.

Dubai Business Events, part of Dubai Tourism and the city’s official convention bureau, understands that sustainability is an increasingly important factor for meetings planners and associations to consider when selecting host cities for their events. It anticipates that, by working with the GDS-Index team, it can quantify the efforts made in Dubai and demonstrate to the industry that they can maintain high standards for sustainability when they bring events to the city

In the announcement, GDS-Index highlighted several initiatives implemented by different Dubai entities in the past years.

Dubai Tourism’s own Dubai Sustainable Tourism initiative is seeing hotels and other hospitality establishments across the city adopt best practices in the area of sustainability. It works with leading industry partners to encourage a city-wide implementation of the latest energy, water and fuel-efficient technologies that engage and empower hospitality establishments to integrate sustainability practices within their operations, with many realising immediate savings.

Meanwhile, the city’s (and region’s) largest events space, Dubai World Trade Centre, has also adopted a number of sustainability measures, including the extensive installation of solar panels on its roof and provisions to ensure excess food is provided to food banks. Through its food-waste initiative, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) works with local charities to ensure all post-event food goes to those who need it, partnering with the United Arab Emirates Food Bank to optimize the process. All consumable food that would otherwise be wasted is picked up by the food bank for storage or other charities, such as Emirates Red Crescent, deliver it via trucks around the city. In 2017, approximately three percent of the conference center’s total production of food went to the food bank.

In November 2018, Dubai hosted the 57th International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). This edition of the association’s flagship event attracted 1,156 delegates from 79 countries, making it the biggest Congress held outside Europe. During the closing ceremony, the winners of the GDS-Index Awards were announced. The prestigious awards showcase the remarkable sustainability initiatives of convention bureaus and destination marketing organisations from across the globe, with the aim of sharing best practices to inspire the meeting and events industry.

The Innovation Award went to Copenhagen, for their bold long-term strategy for Wonderful Copenhagen: “Tourism for good”. The ambition of this strategy is to “make tourism part of the solutions for a sustainable future, not a part of the problem. Tourism is not a goal in itself, it is a means to a sustainable end”. The plan looks at how the destination and their stakeholders can contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and sets targets and actions for the next three years.

For the third year, Gothenburg Convention Bureau won the Leadership Award, setting the pace as well as sharing best practice in the industry. Goteborg & Co are pioneers and have inspired the Index with their unique integration of sustainability into their business practices.

Most Improved Destination Award recognised Goyang Convention Bureau, who joined the GDS-Index in 2017, has significantly improved their performance and made tremendous efforts in advancing their sustainability initiatives

GDS-Index Director Mélanie Delaplanche said during the occassion: “The GDS-Index is keeping the strong momentum going with more than 50 destinations benchmarked in 2018. With a growing number of US destinations joining the rankings, such as Washington DC and Monterey County joining the Index this year. We are delighted to welcome more destinations from very different places of the globe: Bangkok, Dubai, St Petersburg but also more European destinations: Monaco, Ljubljana; Ireland is showing a strong commitment to sustainability, with Shannon, Cork, Galway and Kerry now on the Index.”

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