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Liverpool becomes first English city to join GDS Index

Liverpool has put sustainability at the heart of its events and tourism agenda as it becomes the first city in England to join the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS).

The announcement comes after Liverpool declared a climate emergency in 2019 and initiated the 2030 Hub, based on the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. In Liverpool, the 2030 Hub’s aim is to eliminate poverty, make economic growth inclusive and sustainable and restore ecosystems in cities.

Initiatives to achieve this include the Head North for Beauty and the Liverpool City Region Community Environment Fund which saw school children and residents transform 10 derelict sites into colourful meadows filled with local flowers.

“With participation and presence as powerful drivers in this increasingly popular destination, this is a journey the whole city is taking together,” said Liverpool City Council’s head of business tourism Jenny Jensen.

“Going through the GDS-Index submission process, we realise we’re doing so much but need to bring it all together and we are hopeful that the auditing and benchmarking process of the GDS-Index will help identify areas we are performing well in, and also areas for improvement which will then help shape our policy development in future.”

The GDS sets out 71 criteria for destinations to identify, measure, and action sustainability strategies and initiatives. In Liverpool’s case, Marketing Liverpool, Liverpool City Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and the Liverpool Convention Bureau will take a collaborative approach to ensure economic, social, and environmental regeneration through the tourism and events sector.

The imminent opening of Liverpool’s new carbon-conscious venue will also adds to the city’s sustainable efforts. Spine building’s eco-credentials include communal, low-carbon heating, and biophilic design principles like natural lighting and oxygenating indoor plants. There is also an on-site charging station for electric vehicles.

Liverpool has also invested in carbon literacy training from the Carbon Literate Communities project. This initiative lets adults sharpen up their carbon knowledge in a free and accredited training programme.

From a mobility perspective, the inner city is walkable, with e-bikes, bicycles, and new cycle lanes coming forward all the time.

Guy Bigwood, chief changemaker at the GDS-Movement added that the GDS-Movement is delighted to welcome Liverpool as a key city to the GDS Index – the first in England, and third in the UK.

“The GDS-Index benchmarking data provides excellent guidelines for tailoring strategies to meet targets that can lead to social, environmental, and economic regeneration. Having witnessed the commitment in Liverpool to respectful and regenerative practice, we are certain [GB3] that their inspiring examples can motivate other UK destinations to scale up and speed up their sustainability strategies,” Bigwood said.

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