Sydney as a Sustainable Destination

Decision Maker: Council

Decision status: Recommendations Determined


Minute by the Lord Mayor

To Council:

The City of Sydney has recently received an international award for our Sustainable Destination Partnership and improved our global ranking as a sustainable destination.

The accommodation and entertainment sector is responsible for 21 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, 14 per cent of potable water consumption and almost half of the commercial waste in our local government area.

The City’s Making Sydney a Sustainable Destination plan sets out a plan to reduce this environmental impact by working collaboratively with leading companies in the sector. That is why the City launched the Sustainable Destination Partnership in 2018.

In its first year of operation the Partnership has brought together 46 members, representing over 60 per cent of hotel rooms in the city and all the major cultural and entertainment venues.

These members have launched the single use elimination pledge, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent, seen no increase in potable water use and seen a significant improvement in the reporting and understanding of waste data.

This is a remarkable start, and this work has now been recognised by the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index), the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for business tourism and events destinations around the world.

GDS-Index awarded the Sustainable Destination Partnership their 2019 Innovation Award, ahead of other finalists from Copenhagen, Helsinki and Ljubljana.

In collaboration with Business Events Sydney, the City of Sydney has made a submission to the Index for the last four years. Cities are benchmarked across four key areas: environmental strategy and infrastructure; social sustainability performance; industry supplier support; and the destination management organisation’s strategy and initiatives.

Sydney ranked twelfth in 2016, fifteenth in 2017, ninth in 2018 and eighth in 2019.

This top ten ranking is important recognition of the action we are taking to ensure that once visitors arrive in Sydney they can be safe in the knowledge that the places they visit and the organisations hosting them are committed to reducing their environmental footprint.

This is particularly significant because this year the GDS-Index developed a more demanding set of criteria and there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of cities participating, with 58 cities participating in 2019.

Global sustainability benchmarks allow us to better understand our progress in responding to the climate emergency. The evidence base demanded by credible, independent initiatives such as the GDS-Index allows our community to hold us accountable for our commitments and to ensure that our efforts are keeping pace with the rest of the world.


It is resolved that Council:

(A)        acknowledge this well-deserved award which recognises City achievements;

(B)        commend the efforts of the members of the Sustainable Destination Partnership; and

(C)       commend City of Sydney staff and Business Events Sydney for their work on the Making Sydney a Sustainable Destination strategy and the contribution it is making to address the climate emergency.


Lord Mayor

Moved by the Chair (the Lord Mayor), seconded by Councillor Scully –

That the Minute by the Lord Mayor be endorsed and adopted.

Carried unanimously.


Publication date: 17/02/2020

Date of decision: 17/02/2020

Decided at meeting: 17/02/2020 - Council

Accompanying Documents: