CIM 2019/6 Spotlight

Going green

// Johanna Müdicken

If you are looking for green meetings, Denmark’s capital is the place to go. Copenhagen offers planners many possibilities for sustainably designed events.

Copenhagen's meeting industry focuses on sustainability. Photo: Wonderful Copenhagen/Martin Heiberg

Bella Center Copenhagen and its connected hotel. Photo: AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen

Copenhill: ski slope on a waste incinerator. Photo: Wonderful Copenhagen/ Mellanie Gando

Responsible. Rough sea breeze meets warm hospitality: Copenhagen is considered one of the most popular congress cities in the world. In the 2018 ICCA rankings, the Danish metropolis came eighth, beating major cities such as Sydney, London and Madrid. Especially when it comes to sustainability, Copenhagen sets a great example. Wonderful Copenhagen (WoCo) is the world’s first certified “Green Tourism Organization”. “It’s close to our hearts for tourism in Copenhagen to contribute to sustainable development both locally and globally and contribute to the UN’s 17 Sustainability Development Goals,” says Kit Lykketoft, Director of Conventions. “Copenhagen is already among the most sustainable congress cities in the world and with this certification Wonderful Copenhagen makes good on our pledge to be leading by example.”

In autumn 2019, the self-proclaimed bicycle capital befittingly hosted the international C40 Mayors Summit, which addresses climate change. 2,000 mayors and delegates from over 90 cities met for four days to discuss climate solutions. It was accompanied by a conference initiated by WoCo: “Tomorrow’s Urban Travel”. The event brought together 400 representatives of the travel industry at the Scandic Falkoner Hotel in Frederiksberg. Experts, such as journalist Elizabeth Becker, presented concepts and approaches on how to master the challenges of sustainable tourism.

With green projects like Copenhill, Copenhagen is already demonstrating how environmental awareness and visitor attractions can go hand in hand. The ski slope at the Amager Bakke waste incineration plant, which converts waste into energy and district heating, opened in October 2019. Together with the highest climbing wall in the world, it offers unique options for teambuilding activities, incentives and events. It can serve as a venue with capacities for 1,000 people, offering an impressive view from a height of 85 metres across the Øresund.

A special view that guests can also enjoy on the upper floors of the Bella Center complex. Scandinavia’s largest conference centre offers 121,800 square metres of event space, and from spring 2021 a further hall with 14,000 square metres will be available. The adjacent 4-star hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen has 48 meeting rooms and 811 guest rooms.

By 2021, the city’s hotel capacities are set to increase by more than 40 per cent. Next year, Hilton, among others, will add a new hotel with 600 square meters of meeting space in Christians­harbour. The Scandic Spectrum will open in November 2021, its 632 rooms making it the chain’s largest hotel in Copenhagen. In August 2020, the Comfort Hotel Copenhagen Airport will already start welcoming guests near Kastrup Airport. Its “The Hangar” congress hall will boast capacities for 2,150 people.

These extra capacities are much needed in Denmark’s capital – as numerous large congresses are scheduled for the next few years. In 2020, for example, the city will host Europe’s largest reproduction congress, the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology with 10,000 delegates. In 2021 Copenhagen will host two LGBTQ events – EuroGames and WorldPride – as “Copenhagen 2021”. They will attract 500,000 people with concerts, human rights debates and sporting events.

In 2025 the annual meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM) expects to welcome 10,000 delegates in Copenhagen. AOM Executive Director Nancy Urbanowicz enthusiastically believes that this is the right place for the event: “The facilities and infrastructure are very convenient. It is a perfect metropolis, which offers everything within a short radius,” she explains. “We have been very impressed with Copenhagen from the beginning.” This is the first time in the more than 80 years of the event’s history that it will take place outside North America – a clear sign of Copenhagen’s pulling power as a congress destination.