Explore Edmonton looking to European cities to help improve sustainability score

Edmonton scored 51 per cent overall, ranking 60th out of 73 cities on its first Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-I)

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Edmonton is turning to cities like Lyon, France, to rack up its global destination sustainability score.

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Edmonton scored 51 per cent overall, ranking 60th out of 73 cities on its first Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-I) but a local tourism official says they expected to see this room for growth.

The GDS-I ranks destinations based on its responsible and regenerative tourism practices. The majority of participating cities are European with Montreal, Quebec City and Edmonton being the only Canadian representatives on this year’s list.

“Typically we see a lot of European cities which tend to be the ones leading the way in sustainable destination management,” Melissa Radu, director of environmental sustainability with Explore Edmonton told Postmedia in a Friday interview.

“So, when we look at how we performed, it’s really exciting to se what we can learn from those who are doing really well. Lyon, in France, saw a 42 per cent increase in just one year from some of the efforts that they were able to undertake.”

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Radu said Lyon was the most-improved city on this year’s GDS-I and she said the goal is for Edmonton to take home that honour in 2022.

This picture taken on December 6, 2013 shows illuminated buildings in Lyon, central eastern France, during the 15th edition of the “Fête des Lumières” (Festival of Lights).
This picture taken on December 6, 2013 shows illuminated buildings in Lyon, central eastern France, during the 15th edition of the “Fête des Lumières” (Festival of Lights). Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES /AFP/Getty Images

She said Edmonton’s lowest score was 33 per cent in supplier performance. Radu mentioned more restaurants taking part in sustainable procurement practices is an example of where they could improve.

“That’s the sustainable offerings for our tourist partners, like hotels, airports, restaurants and also academic institutions,” said Radu. “I don’t want to say we don’t have organizations that are doing great work in that area, we certainly do, but what we want to work on is formalizing those types of initiatives so they can be utilized across the city.”

Radu said 55 per cent of Edmonton’s hotel rooms are sustainability certified, however, cities such as Stockholm, Sweden, with a relative population size sees 87 per cent of their accommodation rooms certified.

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Edmonton’s best result was in social performance, scoring 72.5 out of 100. In that category, Radu said the city scored a 91 per cent on social progress which looks at things such as anti-corruption and human rights policies in the city, as well as access to health and well-being services.

Christmas holiday fair at the Big Square (Stortorget) in the Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden. Getty Images
Christmas holiday fair at the Big Square (Stortorget) in the Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden. Getty Images

Radu said there are other areas Edmonton is already improving on when it comes to sustainability, including electric buses, e-scooters and the newest incoming LRT expansion that provide visitors lower carbon transportation options.

“It’s about making sure that tourists that come to our city that we know want to participate in sustainable experiences and tourism products and services have that,” said Radu.

“But it’s also about preserving Edmonton for future generations and making sure when we do develop tourism in the city that we’re doing it in a way that best serves Edmonton and Edmontonians as well.”

ktaniguchi@postmedia.com

twitter.com/TaniguchiKellen

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