Sydney has been recognised on the global stage for its innovative approach to sustainable business events practice and environmental responsibility, winning the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) Innovation in Sustainability Award at the annual ICCA Congress in Houston overnight.

The award was given in recognition of the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Destination Partnership, which features BESydney as an Associate Partner. The judging panel applauded the initiative’s work in the environmental footprinting of the Sydney hospitality sector, and the co-creation of a strategy to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon emissions and divert 90% of its waste by 2030.

The award was accompanied by the announcement that Sydney has risen in the GDS-Index rankings to be named 8th in the world for sustainable business events.

The GDS-Index benchmarks the social and environmental performance of business events industries, across more than 50 cities worldwide. The rapid growth of cities participating is a testament to the success of the Index in raising awareness, and subsequently practice, of sustainability standards in host destinations globally. Just 35 cities were participating in 2016 when Sydney became the first Australian city to join the Index.

Lyn Lewis-Smith

BESydney CEO

“Sustainability is becoming an important requirement for our global client base when choosing a host destination, and the City of Sydney’s approach in creating a collaborative framework for our whole industry to work with them is truly visionary,” said BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith.

“Being recognised with the GDS-Index Innovation Award is a testament to the benefits of collaboration with all our ‘Team Sydney’ partners, including the City of Sydney and ICC Sydney. This year’s success feels particularly special as BESydney celebrates our 50th anniversary, and I’m excited to continue working with our partners to drive sustainable best practice as more meetings come to our shores,” Ms Lewis-Smith added.


Sydney rated above the global average across the four pillars of the Index and was noted as a particular leader in destination management performance, achieving a 77% score – well above the global average score of 46%. These results were achieved in a year where the Index raised the bar considerably introducing new, more demanding criteria in consultation with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, the Social Progress Imperative and the Events Industry Council.

The strong performance was bolstered by the aim to source 50% of Sydney’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and by the innovative sustainability initiatives implemented by BESydney’s major partner, ICC Sydney. The City of Sydney was also applauded for being Australia’s first carbon-neutral local government.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said, “We created the Sustainable Destination Partnership to work with some of the biggest hotels and tourist attractions in our city to reduce environmental impact and address climate change.”

“Sydney’s leading hotels, event centres, cultural institutions and tourism bodies knew that taking action would be a real challenge, given the sector is resource-intensive and has a strong demand for energy. This award recognises their success in becoming more sustainable and working to address the most pressing issue of our time. I hope it encourages more businesses and organisations to become involved.”