CIM 2019/6 Focus

Sustainability incentives

// Katharina Brauer

The meetings industry causes emissions. Campaigns, awards and certifications persuade industry players of the urgent need for a green approach.

Photo: KLM

The CCL hosted the 2019 Green Meetings and Events Conference. Photo: CIM/J.Müdicken

Taking a stand. “I reject invitations to conventions.” This sentence appeared in bold in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit on 22 August 2019. It comes from Stefan Rahmstorf, a climatologist and the co-chair of the Earth System Analysis department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who says: “Scientists have to fly to do their job well. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility. I always weigh up the emissions against the importance of the event, and I refuse many invitations to speak or attend important conventions in the US.”

Making travel more sustainable is now a big priority. Aviation accounts for almost 3 percent of global carbon emissions, which is why flights are considered to be “climate killers”. CORSIA, the UN’s global agreement on carbon offsetting (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), was again the subject of controversy at the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal at the end of September 2019. Independently of governments, airlines are also committing themselves to sustainable goals and offering their customers the chance to offset their carbon emissions.

With Compensaid, Lufthansa offers its passengers multiple options for offsetting the emissions of Lufthansa flights. Customers can choose between reforestation in Nicaragua or using sustainable aviation fuel as well as how much money to spend.

“Do you always have to meet face to face?” asks the Dutch airline KLM. The question is part of the Fly Responsibly campaign launched by KLM to mark its centenary. KLM makes its carbon offsetting programme CO2Zero available to all other airlines. In addition, it has challenged German startups to present their ideas on sustainability. KLM will offset the carbon emissions of the companies that come up with the ten best ideas on KLM, Air France and Delta Airlines flights for a year. Its sister airline Air France is setting a good example by offsetting the carbon emissions of all domestic flights from 21 January 2020 through participation in certified projects.

Certifications are an effective way to achieve sustainable goals. That applies particularly to the meetings industry. “It is important for organisers, agencies, event venues and service providers to enshrine sustainability in their corporate philosophies and take concrete steps to implement it. Energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, reducing the quantities of materials used, sustainable catering and environmentally friendly travel are all fundamental,” says Professor Große Ophoff of the DBU Centre for Environmental Communication in Osnabrück.

As the sustainability officer of the European Association of Event Centers (EVVC), he believes Green Globe certification is a good tool for checking how your company shapes up in terms of sustainability. Green Globe lists 44 criteria in four categories with 385 indicators, which are associated with 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Certification to ISO 14001 must be updated through annual audits. The Green Globe membership subscription paid by convention centres depends on how many employees they have. For hotels it depends on their number of rooms.

“30 event centres and 32 conference hotels are currently certified in Germany. The EVVC, the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the Hamburg Convention Bureau have decided to adopt our certification,” explains Ioana Nan, Green Globe auditor and key account manager for central and eastern Europe.

In 2009 Messe Leipzig became the first German trade fair company to gain Green Globe certification. Sustainability is also a key factor for the Congress Center Leipzig (CCL), which belongs to the trade fair company. The centre received the Meeting Experts Green Award in 2013. In 2019 the CCL hosted the Green Meetings and Events Conference organised jointly by the GCB and the EVVC. The conference hotel Landgut Stober and Zeeh Design were honoured for their commitment to sustainability. The next Green Meetings and Events Conference will be taking place in Osnabrück from 3 to 5 March 2021.