In an increasingly complex business environment where ‘doing more with less’ has become the norm, it can be difficult for meeting professionals to keep up with the latest trends and developments, let alone ensure that their events are planned in a more sustainable way.
Indeed, the perception that sustainability is too complicated, time consuming and/or costly is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why many organisations still do not put much emphasis on this during their event planning process. Instead of being embraced as an opportunity to innovate, sustainability is often viewed as a chore; more about compliance than creativity.
While there are ever growing concerns about the effects of climate change, instead of being overwhelmed by (or oblivious to) the short and long term impacts, we can be all be more proactive in our day to day lives, including taking small steps in our meetings and events.
It is not about perfection, but continuous improvement. This is the underlying principle of ISO 20121, the international event sustainability management systems standard launched in 2012. It is also reflected in the Danish Meetovation principle of responsible thinking, alongside active involvement, creative setups, local inspiration and return on investment. In other words, today’s best practice is to incorporate sustainability into the planning process versus treating it as a separate activity or function.
As part of the design of EMEC 2016 in Copenhagen, MPI applied responsible thinking in the following ways:
- Destination Selection: MPI selected Copenhagen, Denmark – the Capital of Sustainable Meetings – as the host destination, among the most forward-thinking and sustainable cities and countries in the world.
- Venue Selection: The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen was chosen as the host hotel and conference venue, a Green Key certifiedproperty and part of a global brand with a strong Responsible Business culture. A commitment to CSR (corporate social responsibility) and sustainable practices was also a major deciding factor in the selection of all offsite venues, including Langelinie Pavillonen, Copenhagen Street Food and Toldboden.
- Food & Beverage: All food served during the conference breaks and lunches consisted of Brain Food, part of Radisson Blu’s Experience Meetings Concept.
- Waste Management: Food waste at Radisson Blu Scandinavia was composted, donated to local farms and/or to a local shelter. Food waste was also the focus of Monday’s Lunch and Learn session. Any paper, plastic, glass and cans used during the conference were recycled, whenever possible.
- Education: Participants explored the Meetovation principle of Responsible Thinking during Monday’s General Session II and had the opportunity to take the #BeeSustain Challenge on Tuesday morning.
- Technology: All conference information was made available on the website and mobile app, including the option to build your personal schedule.
- Procurement: Badge holders were biodegradable and lanyards were made with recycled bottles. The My Story notebook was printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.
- Community Service: Participants were invited to bring new and gently used hats, scarves, gloves and/or socks to Copenhagen to donate to the Danish Red Cross. They could also purchase honey gifts from ByBi (City Bee), a Copenhagen-based non-profit cooperative which has installed hives on the city’s rooftops and in its green spaces and parks in cooperation with local organisations and companies. The honey is sold or used in other products, and all profits are reinvested in social and environmental activities.
For more sustainability ideas, inspiration and resources, click below:
Written by Andrew Walker CMP, Manager Events, MPI