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Case studies of successful meetings in Gothenburg

Comprehensive sustainability work, positive impact on the local community, long-term meeting legacies and high delegate numbers – success can be measured in many ways. Get inspired by some of the success stories from Gothenburg.

Increased research activity and local competence development

The multidisciplinary Gothenburg Continence Research Centre, GCRC, is the first-of-its-kind in Sweden. It gathers world-leading researchers from diverse fields, such as gynaecology, materials science, health economics and health and care sciences.

The research centre hosted the International Continence Society Annual Meeting, ICS 2019, as part of their targeted effort to increase focus on incontinence research in order to improve life quality for patients and their relatives.

The two-year follow-up meeting showed a great increase in research activity at the Centre and an increase in the number of researchers who have chosen to conduct research in the field of incontinence. Hosting the annual meeting generated new research fellows and made it possible to further build on the amount of research produced in Gothenburg.

The Gothenburg region’s public health care provider, Region Västra Götaland, provided financial support to local practitioners to attend ICS 2019. This was done for competence development purposes, to improve care and patient experiences and outcomes.

Public Awareness and Local Competence Development

AgeCap, Centre for Ageing and Health at the University of Gothenburg, spreads and utilises research results to increase the life quality for older persons. Their vision is an inclusive society where ageing is valued for potentials and older adults are respected – a society that enables us to be active agents in our own lives, independent of age and other factors.

As local host of the European Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics, IAGG-ER, in 2019, AgeCap wished to focus on healthy ageing in Gothenburg and West Sweden and educating the public to counteract ageism. Also, to give prominence to their centre, showcase research associated with the centre and Swedish and Nordic research in general.

Årsrika photo exhibition was showcased in a centrally located park, as part of the public programme.

Gothenburg Convention Bureau met with IAGG-ER Secretary-General and AgeCap to discuss, and share experiences, how they could ensure that the congress would contribute to AgeCap’s vision. The Executive Committee decided on a goal to bring the surrounding world into the congress, and the congress topic to the public. A second meeting took place, to continue the discussions on community and media engagement. At the debrief, all stakeholders concluded the goal was reached. A second follow-up will take place in 2022.

The City of Gothenburg, City of Varberg and Region Västra Götaland sponsored day tickets for employees working in elderly care. This was done for competence development purposes, to improve care and patient experiences and outcomes.

Examples of activities undertaken during the congress:

  • The Årsrika photo exhibition to influence and widen the current, narrow view of the older generation at the city library, in two city parks and some of the suburbs of Gothenburg.
  • Free public seminar on ageing and ageism at the city library.
  • The Carin Mannheimer Award ceremony at the city library, awarding young researchers in ageing research.
  • An older adults’ and a children’s choir performed in the exhibition and poster hall to bring the surrounding world into the congress.
The older adults’ choir performing with a children’s choir in the exhibition hall.

Public health promotion, media attention, and raising interest in higher education

One of the purposes of the European Stroke Organisation is to develop and promote professional and public education. Stroke Centre West was the local host of the ESO Conference 2018 in Gothenburg. The centre is a cooperation between Region Västra Götaland, the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. The goals of the centre include minimising the number of people getting a stroke and working with health promotion.

As part of hosting ESOC 2018, the local host and a number of local stakeholders identified the opportunity to use the conference to teach the public how to detect stroke in a person and how to prevent stroke through physical movement. They also wanted to spike an interest in higher education and research amongst young people.

Examples of activities:

  • Stroke researchers visited four high schools with students in science and healthcare programmes to inform them about stroke and what it is like working as physicians/scientists, with subsequent students’ study visits to the congress.
  • Free public seminar, for 250 attendees, on stroke prevention and rehab with a panel of experts and patients.
  • Free public lecture, on stroke and physical activity, in conjunction with the annual Gothenburg Half Marathon.
  • The local public healthcare provider invited delegates to run in its dedicated starting group Run FAST Against Stroke in the annual Gothenburg Half Marathon. The connection was running as a method to prevent stroke.
  • Targeted efforts towards media led to extensive media attention with a focus on the patient perspective.

Sustainability and Social Engagement

Conferences generally have a considerable environmental impact. Environmental certification of meetings is encouraged by the city and helps the development of sustainability efforts.

The European Conference on Optical Communication, ECOC 2017, attracted around 5,900 delegates from all over the world to Gothenburg. To reduce the environmental impact, the conference organisers certified the conference, according to the Swedish Environmental Base (Svensk Miljöbas) criteria. But, the organisation went beyond the certification in its sustainability efforts.

Examples of activities:

  • Launch of sustainability efforts for the ECOC series.
  • Eco-certification according to the Swedish Environmental Base (Svensk Miljöbas). More than 50 actions.
  • Instead of speaker gifts, the organiser donated 340 solar-powered lamps through Barnfonden (the Swedish ChildFund) to families in remote areas of India.
  • The organiser invested in a 30-hectare large rainforest project, known as the ECOC Forest, in Ecuador. 
  • Fewer meals contained meat, and vegetarian lunch was standard. The fish was MSC labelled, coffee and tea organically sourced, and Fairtrade labelled.
  • The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, a forefront runner in venue sustainability, hosted the conference. Its city centre location made it possible to avoid the environmental effects of transport.
The ECOC-forest in Ecuador was an initiative that future conferences can build on.


ECOC left a remaining footprint of increased sustainability efforts. Both in Gothenburg and for future conferences around Europe.

  • The organisation’s requirements made the suppliers begin their own environmental/sustainability work.
  • Sponsors accepted using only environmentally certified material.
  • ”Green Platinum” launched at the conference as a highest level sponsor category.
  • The ECOC-forest initiative saved 42,000 trees of 132 different species. And will be extended by future conferences.
  • Children in India can now, thanks to the lamps, read, do homework and other activities after sunset.
  • The conference’s international steering group committee recommends all future ECOC organisers to continue the sustainability work, adapted to local circumstances and the ECOC handbook now includes a section on sustainability.
  • Environmental certification of a major international conference – the largest to date to be environmentally certified in Sweden – encourages others to do the same.

Sharing Best Practice in Sustainability

Gothenburg hosted the Association World Congress & Expo, AWC, in 2019. An opportunity to share expertise and best practice with association executives and representatives from the global meetings industry and display Gothenburg as a meetings destination.

Topics were, among others, success stories on how to effectively engage the public to create a positive impact and legacy in the local community. The participants learnt about the Gothenburg Strategic Plan for Meetings and many participants joined a Destination Day for in-depth knowledge on the city’s strong collaboration within the field of research and development, showcased through visits to well-known R&D companies.

Gothenburg eco-certified the congress in keeping with the city being the world’s most sustainable destination. All meals were organic, locally produced and vegetarian. Food waste was minimised, and all participants received their own fill-up tap water bottle.

Almost 90 % of the delegates state they went away with ideas and content to improve their organisation.

Public Health Promotion

The European Obesity Summit 2016, held at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, provided a platform for discussions on the public health issue of obesity and the latest research on the subject. A total of 1,500 people took part in the programme.

In connection with the summit, the organisation developed a public awareness initiative to highlight the consequences of obesity for individuals and society as a whole. In parallel, the Universeum Science Centre and the University of Gothenburg created a popular science exhibition on health aimed at children, parents, teachers and healthcare staff. 

Gothenburg Convention Bureau is strongly committed to this type of knowledge transfer as an aspect of social sustainability.