Equitably Sustainable Malmö

About Malmö

The City of Malmö is the commercial center of southern Sweden and truly an international city with about 350,000 inhabitants representing over 180 different nationalities. A city with an industrial past, Malmö has transformed itself into a thriving knowledge city which supports its young, inquisitive and creative population – almost half of Malmö’s residents are under the age of 35.

Over the last years Malmö has received many international awards for its focus on sustainable urban development and pilot projects such as the European housing exhibition Bo01, the Western Harbour, the redevelopment of Augustenborg, as well as the major development of the Hyllie area, with its smart grid, solar energy and passive housing. Malmö was also appointed the first Fairtrade City of Sweden. An ICLEI Member since 1996, Malmö is working actively for sustainability initiatives and is the first city in Sweden that has publicly announced the commitment to implement the UN SDG’s.

The Malmö Summit - An equitable event


ICLEI and the City of Malmö were committed to make the Malmö Summit a non-discriminatory, equitably accessible, and inclusive event. An equitable event is intended to actively promote inclusion and participation. This means that everybody should feel included and be offered opportunities to ask questions, share and acquire knowledge, and take the maximum of the event regardless of sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), social status, physical appearance or body size.



An equitable event also means to protect everyone who participates in the congress against all forms of abuse, harassment and discrimination. Harassment of congress participants, as defined in the congress Code of Conduct, includes offensive or hateful language, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or side events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. All participants were asked to adhere to this code of conduct at the time of registration; the violation of these rules could lead to expulsion from the event without a refund, at the discretion of the congress organizers. 

Participants were encouraged to foster a safe, healthy, and pleasant environment for all!

Equity for Equality 

With the aim of addressing unequal opportunities faced by specific communities and social groups as well as traditional underrepresentation at events, we are developing Guidelines for an equitable event. These guidelines will serve as a tool for actively and systematically implementing  the basic principles of non-discrimination, equity, gender equality, and leaving no one behind in conference and event management. This is a work in progress and will be one of the outcomes of the Malmö Summit; this initiative can be seen as a pilot and as a starting point for future event frameworks. Your opinion matters! We want to make this process participatory and include the inputs and opinions of participants which was collected in an evaluation survey.

We want to bring equitable perspectives to all phases of the event, including, but certainly not limited to:



  • Accessibility so that all persons, irrespective of  any disabilities, can access and freely move around the venue
  • Gender-responsive infrastructure so every person can benefit from the event in equal conditions
  • Clear directions on how to get to and around the venue, with clear indication of accessibility features such as stairless access points and elevators.


  • Geographical balance, gender equality and diversity of voices in the content, in the selection of speakers and in the selection of moderators
  • Design the sessions bringing different perspectives and making sure they are relevant to different regions
  • Mobile workshops: think about accessibility and relevance for participants; bring a social and cultural program  that provides an accurately representative or nuanced picture of the city. 
  • Allow sufficient time for breaks between program elements

Educate and train all event personnel in what an equitable event means

Be ready to accommodate special needs


The word shall be distributed fairly in discussions and Q&A

  • Do not give preference to native English speakers
  • Do not leave minority or underrepresented groups to the end when the time is running out
  • If there is interpretation, encourage participants to ask questions in the language they feel most comfortable
  • Incorporate the use of technology that allows participants to engage in the discussion without the necessity to showcase themselves in front of the entire audience 

Hybrid events: do not forget about your virtual audience and speakers, include them in the discussion as much as possible

Find approaches to reach all audiences:

  • Always use a microphone so everyone in the room can hear, especially important for interpreters and virtual audience
  • Include subtitles or closed captions on videos and other visual materials with audio
  • Choose color combinations and designs for visual materials that are easily readable, especially for persons with color blindness

Internet access inequality: hybrid and virtual events require patience and understanding

  • Technical difficulties can happen, be ready and patient, always have a plan B
  • Try to use platforms and applications that do not requires lot of bandwidth and which participants can use in their smartphones
  • Consider the possibility to relocate speakers or targeted key participants who cannot travel to the main venue and are located in places with poor internet connection to a hot-spot close to them 


Set an inclusive tone through thoughtful text and image selection on communications channels that recognises diversity in all senses

Use inclusive language, especially in written communications avoiding gender-biased words and expressions that reinforce stereotypical gender roles. Be also mindful of the language used so as to not contribute to stereotypical perceptions of vulnerable groups and communities

Communicate the ambitions of an equitable event to participants in a clear and easy to understand way


Provide participants the opportunity to comment and share their views on the degree to which the ambition of an equitable event was reached. The insights will be used to complete the Guidelines for an equitable event

The Malmö Summit - A sustainable event

The Malmö Summit was environmentally certified according to the Swedish Environmental Base Standard (Svensk Miljöbas). This means that ICLEI and City of Malmö had implemented around 50 actions to reduce negative impact on the environment and to be more socially responsible.

ICLEI World Congress Malmö 2022 – the Sustainability Vision
Learning from each other and sharing experiences is fundamental for pushing forward towards the future we want. The pandemic has taught us that much can – and should – be done online, especially when it comes to global events. But it has also taught us that real meetings matter, that something happens when you meet in real life that can’t be replaced by virtual solutions.
The dilemma is, of course, that all events have a negative impact on the environment. However, we believe that this congress had such a potential for bringing about sustainable solutions, to act as an inspiration and to raise the level of both learning and awareness, that the positive impacts will outweigh the negative. These aspects will have a long-lasting effect on communities all over the world. However, minimizing the negative impact must be the leading star of the Malmö Summit: from the planning of the event to execution, and from the moment you start looking into your travel arrangements until you are back from the conference. Everyone must make smart choices to make this happen, it applies to organisers, participants, sponsors, and partners.

The Malmö Summit was designed for limited impact on the environment through careful consumption of energy and other resources. The congress also aimed to have a positive impact on the local community. Measures are taken within ten areas, here are some examples:

  1. All venues were centrally located so participants can easily get around. The main venue, Malmö Live (part of Nordic Choice Hotel) has high sustainability ambitions.
  2. Nordic Choice Hotels want to show that impact on the climate can be reduced even within large hotel operations. Therefore, all their hotels are ISO 14001 certified. Read more here: WeCare – Social Responsibility | Nordic Choice Hotels
  1. The aim was to minimize purchases and support sustainable choices, for example by avoiding single use material, printed material and limiting exhibition material.
  2. Gifts and give-aways were kept to a minimum and carefully chosen to support local businesses and with low environmental impact.
  3. The purchase policy for the City of Malmö states that environmental impact must be taken into consideration. Sponsors of the Malmö Summit had to be active within ICLEI’s five pathways.
  1. Responsible waste management was a leading star. That means, in descending order of priority: avoiding, minimizing, reusing or recycling.
  2. Waste separation bins were available and food waste is sorted out.
  1. The mobility policy for the City of Malmö was applied to the event. That means participants walked, wheeled or cycled when possible, used public transport instead of taxi or car, and chose train before flight.  
  2. ICLEI climate compensated necessary flights by employees. 
  3. If taxi or buses were used during the congress they were environmentally approved.  
  1. City of Malmö only uses renewable energy in its own operations. 
  2. Clarion Malmö Live uses geothermal heating and solar. The venue is equipped with several energy efficient solutions. 
  1. During the congress, climate friendly vegetarian food was served, with a high percentage of ecological products (minimum 30%). Use of locally produced products was encouraged. 
  2. All coffee/tea served at the “fika” breaks (coffee breaks) was organic and Fairtrade. 
  3. No bottled water was served. Swedish tap water has high quality and tap water stations were available. 
  1. All the recommended hotels have effective and comprehensive environmental policies and operations.
  1. Guidelines for sustainability were provided to coordinators, committees and contractors to the congress with the aim to educate and inspire continued mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, minimal environmental impact, and healthy, sustainable societies. 
  2. Social activities offered during the congress encouraged the visitors to explore a sustainable Malmö. 
  1. New guidelines for equitable events are adopted by the city of Malmö and were used to ensure that ICLEI World Congress 2021–2022 in Malmö was a non-discriminatory, accessible and inclusive congress, at all levels and stages of the work process. 
  1. Leftover food from the conference was donated in cooperation with local associations. 
  2. Young, unemployed citizens got work practice during the congress. 
  3. The amount of exhibition material was restricted.
  4. Livestreaming increased accessibility to the congress.

Experience Sustainable Malmö

Wondering what World Congress 2021-2022 had in store for you as an attendee? The mobile workshop series was one of the highlights, organized by the City of Malmö itself.

13 workshops, spanning sustainability topics from urban food systems to neighborhood regeneration and energy transformations await. The workshops included getting out and about in Malmö and seeing firsthand how sustainability measures are being implemented.


See all Mobile Workshops

Stories from Sustainable Malmö

Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the City of Malmö signed ‘A Declaration of Cities’ Commitment to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda’, committing to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by approving an integrated and holistic development strategy by 2020 – a Local 2030 Agenda. This ambition will be achieved by integrating the SDGs in the City Council’s goals and as part of the budget process. By integrating the SDGs in the city’s steering and management systems, it will become clear in what way the city operations and activities contribute to a more sustainable city and world.

Watch our other SDG short films