What was your motivation to join ICCA?
The GDS-Movement is inextricably linked to ICCA. Our roots originate from a partnership with ICCA, all our partnering cities are members of ICCA, and we have collaborated closely with ICCA since 2010. On top of that, ICCA is the community that delivers the most value to Congress professionals and we love being part of this family.
Tell us your story. How did GDS-Movement get started?
The GDS-Movement evolved from the Global Destination Sustainability Index, the world’s leading sustainability benchmarking and performance improvement programme for destinations, and their visitor economy. The GDS-Index was inspired in a workshop organised by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Scandinavian chapter and MCI in 2010. From this vision MCI, ICCA and fifteen pioneering cities created and launched the Scandinavian Destination Sustainability Index.
In 2015 the project evolved into the GDS-Index, a collaborative initiative between ICCA Global, the ICCA Scandinavian Chapter, IMEX Exhibitions, European Cities Marketing, MCI Group and GUBI consulting.
Today the Global Destination Sustainability Movement has evolved to be a collaborative platform that acts to catalyse transformation in the tourism and events industry. We envision responsible and regenerative tourism that creates thriving destinations for all and it’s our mission to empower destinations with the mindsets, strategies, and skillsets to create regenerative places to visit, meet and live in.
We work to accelerate the transformation from destination marketing "at whatever cost" towards destination management and stewardship that offers shared value. Today we support over 75 pioneering municipalities, destination management organisations and convention bureaux to accelerate the development of regenerative strategies that catalyse innovation and impact and to educate professionals.
What sets GDS-Movement apart?
We are leading thinkers and pioneers in the development of regenerative strategies for the events industry.
We initiated and continue to develop industry-wide sustainability benchmarking in the form of the GDS-Index.
We consistently collect and verify up-to-date sustainability performance and impact data from our destinations and use it to encourage widespread adoption of recognised best practice, strategy development, and thought leadership.
We are a growing, tight-knit, non-hierarchical community of committed and accountable destination sustainability champions with over 160+ years of collective sustainability experience.
We position our efforts at the heart of an emotionally intelligent Movement that welcomes others who share our vision and mission, and values of collaboration, progression, integrity, support, innovation, empathy, courage, and FUN!
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
In 2020 the GDS-Movement team were recognised as the winner of IMEX-EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award! These are the Oscars of the Sustainable Event world. It was proud moment and great recognition of the collaboration between the founders and all the destinations.
What can we expect to see from GDS-Movement in the future?
In our commitment to drive regenerative development together with ICCA and ECM we have just launched the GDS-Academy. Its goal is to build knowledge and capacity, offer access to best practices, accelerate strategy development and enhance the global community of sustainable destination professionals.
We also provide communication strategy and implementation services to help our sector and DMOs tell more effective stories about the work they are doing. https://www.gds.earth/academy/
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
Right now, our biggest challenge is scaling our organisation to satisfy the demand and need to help DMOs to develop more sustainable destinations. Like many DMOs, we are struggling to find the right talent to lead and support organisation transformation and growth. Right now, this is a lovely challenge to have.