Platåbergens Geopark winner of Sustainability Step of the Year 2022

Judges’ motivation: Sustainability Step of the Year 2022

“Through long-term and goal-oriented work, nine municipalities have created a stable basis for collaboration. Safeguarding the landscape’s unique nature creates new conditions for a growing and sustainable tourism industry, without compromising the opportunities of future generations.”

This year’s Sustainability Step of the Year Award in the category ‘Civic Initiative’ goes to Grästorp Municipality for Platåbergens UNESCO Geopak. The prize was awarded at the West Sweden Tourist Board annual conference at Bergakungen in Gothenburg on 10 November.

West Sweden Tourist Board CEO Fredrik Lindén (left) and COO Marie Linde (right) presented the award to Sofia Jessen from Grästorps Municipality and Sofia Hultman from Platåbergens Geopark.

This year’s Sustainability Step of the Year goes to a civic initiative and a tourism business that have taken to heart the four principles of Stepping up Sustainability:  As little unnecessary environmental impact as possible; Good for both residents and visitors; More visitors when and where it’s not busy; More full-time jobs and more robust businesses. Each year, four candidates from four different municipalities (Borås region, Fyrbodal, Gothenburg region and Skaraborg) are nominated in each category. This year, Platåbergen Geopark with Grästorp Municipality were victorious.

– It feels great that we are recognised in this way, and that the Jury of Sustainability Step of the Year Award sees the value in the work we have put in over several years. I see the award as proof that cooperation across local authority borders pays off. You become stronger when you work together, says Anna Bergengren, coordinator Platåbergen’s UNESCO Global Geopark.

Platåbergens Geopark is Sweden’s first UNESCO Global Geopark, which means that the plateau mountain landscape has geological sites and landscapes that are of international importance – and which are seen as world-unique by the UN agency UNESCO. The geopark’s surface extends over several municipalities and as many as 15 different plateau mountains, and is a collaboration between Trollhättan, Vänersborg, Grästorp, Lidköping, Götene, Mariestad, Skara, Skövde and Falköping. Grästorp Municipality is an operating organisation.

The idea with the Platåbergen Geopark is that both visitors and residents should learn more about the mountains and their surroundings, and what role they have played throughout history. This is done through things such as hiking trails, exhibitions, dramatisations, guided tours, and virtual reality/animations. The Geopark also collaborates with local tourism operators to drive sustainable tourism.

There are only 177 UNESCO global geoparks in the whole world – and the key to reaching this status is having commitment from the local community, local authorities, private individuals, and associations. Sustainability is not just about using sustainable products and reducing emissions – it is also about social sustainability and generating commitment among those who live in the local area. We believe in, and work hard to create, added value for our visitors and for those who live here, says Anna Bergengren.