Launch 2013 Scandinavian Destinations Sustainability Index Report

This week ICCA Scandinavia in partnership with MCI and VisitAarhus launched the 2013 Scandinavia Destinations Sustainability Index. For the last four years we have been working to bring together the meetings industry of Norway, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark to collaborate and create the world’s first ever sustainable meetings region.

As part of the project, MCI Sustainability Services researched and benchmarked the social and environmental sustainability performance of 22 cities across the five nations. This, the second  Scandinavia Destinations Sustainability Index demonstrates how the Cities, their Tourism Authorities, Convention Bureaux,  and members are sharing best practice and working together to drive change. In the last year the project improved sustainability performance across the region by a superb 11% in the meetings industry category. Strategy improvement has been the key improvement across the region; in just one year Cities with a Sustainable Meeting Strategy increased from 25% to 47%. Over 59% of all venues and hotels across the region are now eco-certified.

We designed this project to foster collaboration, the sharing of best practices and to start to get cities reporting. It does not yet use the GRI Framework, but it uses some indicators and will evolve to use G4 and encourage full reporting across the region.

The project was sponsored by MCI and VisitAarhus. We are expanding the Index to include other regions and cities in 2014. Please contact me should you wish to explore how your destination could be included or wish to sponsor the 2014 research.

You can see and download the Index here

 

Click below to see a summary powerpoint presentation that we delivered at the IMEX tradeshow.

Tap Water Presidency Wins Gold IMEX-GMIC Green Meetings Award

I´m feeling very proud as last night, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs collected the 2013 Gold IMEX-GMIC Green Meetings Award for the organisation of the 2012 European Union Presidency. Working with the Danish government, My team and I helped the ministry to implement a sustainable management system and to become the first organisation to achieve the new ISO20121 certification. The results of this project earned the nickname – the Tap Water Presidency due to its focus on sustainability and cost effectiveness, that resulted in a €40million saving compared to previous Presidencies.

Over 15000 people participated in the 150 events that were organised at three venues in Denmark, making this one of the most ambitious and largest sustainability projects in the meetings industry. To learn more about the approach and legacy of this unique project please read the new case study report entitled ‘Driving Change Through Collaboration’ .

We have have been consulting to the Danish Government, Visit Denmark and the Copenhagen Convention Bureau since 2008. Advisory services included developing a national sustainability strategy, development of a communication campaign, production of videos, a training roadshow and production of the European Sustainable Events Conference. More info on www.sustainableeventsdenmark.org

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The proud team from Wonderful Copenhagen, SAS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Visit Denmark and MCI celebrating winning of IMEX Green Meeting Award

Danish EU Presidency Sustainability Report

Last year Denmark hosted the first ever sustainable European Union presidency, achieving the first ISO20121 certification in the meetings sector. The sustainable actions lead to a €40million saving compared to previous Presidencies. Now we are proud to be able to document and share the legacy and learning  in a new report entitled Driving Change Through Collaboration’.

You can review the report below or please download the  report here. It also provides a good insight in how to achieve ISO20121. We hope you enjoy and do lets us know your questions, comments and feedback.

There were 4 main conclusions to the EU2012 Danish Presidency Sustainability Report

Leadership: Nicknamed the ‘Tap Water Presidency’ by the press, due to the focus on environmental and cost saving actions, the Danish government implemented an ISO compliant sustainability management system for the 100 meetings which hosted 15.000 participants in Copenhagen and the city of Horsens. Local organic food was served – with no additional cost – accompanied by tap water; 100% of all hotel rooms and meetings venues were eco-certified; all suppliers were compliant with the responsible procurement policy; all signage, carpets and branding were made from sustainable materials; and sponsorships were created to install innovative new sustainability technology into the venues and power them through Danish Wind Energy.

Power of Standards: Andreas Clausen-Boor, Head of Logistics for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared “The budget restraints and complexities involved with organizing so many diverse events required a smart, efficient and flexible event management system. Our meeting design strategy and the ISO 20121 standard helped align the political and sustainability goals with practical processes in a sensible and efficient way which saved us over €40million while enhancing the quality for which Danish events are known.”

Legacy: As part of the stakeholder engagement strategy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and leaders from the Danish Meetings Industry initiated and established the private-public partnership ‘Danish Sustainable Events Initiative’ (DSEI). The DSEI leveraged the momentum of the 2012 EU Presidency to showcase and improve sustainability practices not just for the Presidency events but to inspire and educate the national and global meetings industry towards greater collaboration and innovation.

Collaboration: Steen Jakobsen, Convention Director for Wonderful Copenhagen CVB, one of the founding partners of the DSEI commented: “This report captures and shares our experiences implementing ISO 20121. It highlights the power of collaboration, and can significantly help other Presidencies and meeting organisers.”

 

My team at MCI Sustainability Services have worked on this project for the last few years. Once again we have seen the commitment of the Danish government and the Danish meetings industry to innovation, collaboration and sustainability. Their thought leadership helped to advance sustainable event management at a national and a global scale. It also strengthen the positioning of Copenhagen as the ‘Capital of Sustainable Meetings’, and Denmark as a ‘first choice’ sustainable meetings destination. They deserve another high 5!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results: 2013 ICCA Scandinavian Destinations Sustainability Index

Yesterday at the ICCA Scandinavia Chapter meeting, I had the pleasure to release the 2013 ICCA Scandinavian Destinations Sustainability Indexwinners_2013_index_

MCI conducted this benchmarking study to compare and analyze the sustainability performance of 20 cities across the 5 Nordic countries of Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. This was the second edition of the study, and demonstrates how the ICCA Scandinavia Vision to create a Sustainable Meetings Region is delivering results and improving sustainability across the region. The first Index was launched in June 2012

Winners

First place this year is shared by Uppsala and last year’s winner Gothenburg (see photo).  Turku was recognised as the city with the best improvement with a staggering 85% improvement over last year. Respect should also be given to Reykjavik, Stockholm and in fact all the participants for working on this pioneering project. 2013 index

Key highlights from this year:

  • 7% Overall improvement across region
  • Growth fromn 16 to 20 cities included in the Index
  • A significant 12% improvement in the “software” performance of the region. This means that there is a greater development of sustainability strategy, communication, certification and engagement.
  • 47% of CVBs now have a publicly available sustainability policy
  • 74% of CVBs now have information on their webs about the sustainability of their destination

At the regional meeting yesterday, Anne and I ran a workshop with 50 people to share conclusions, success stories and to brainstorm how Cities can continue to improve.

Going global

This project is unique and we know of no other in the meetings industry. Other destinations, regions and corporations can learn from this initiative that started in 2010. It demonstrates how through the leadership of a few individuals who encourage collaboration, sustainable change can happen.

We will be writing up the findings in a report to be published in April. The 2013 Index project was funded by VisitAarhus. Research and consulting was implemented by my team in MCI Sustainability Services. We intend to improve the Index for 2014 and are looking for input and additional partners so that we can improve. Our dream is to expand the Index to include other countries and regions. So Vancouver, Melbourne, Germany – all you leaders of sustainability; We invite you to come and benchmark against your Scandinavian colleagues.

Bearing Responsibility – Events and the Community

ImageCommunity Projects have been a part and parcel of events for decades – that will never change. What will change is the sophistication of the various projects. Gone are the days when guests happily gather around a solitary tree planting ceremony, participating only through rapturous applause. Increasing awareness of wider sustainability issues and activism are driving bolder approaches to event community project planning and your guests want to get involved and create more of an impact.

It’s the usual innovators who are at the forefront of this; Ovation Bear, Ovation Global DMC’s honorary CEO, conducted an informal straw poll of his global offices and identified 5 Innovative stories of sophisticated community integration at Events:

1. More often than not, the integration of the local community comprises a one-off bolt-on activity designed to tick the CSR box. Conversely, Ovation is increasingly working with clients to be more strategic in approach. This involves looking at how local communities can be deeper integrated into the event planning process. A recent example of this approach is an Ovation Canada project where social enterprise suppliers are being given preference over less socially aware suppliers. With handmade delegate bags and sustainability conscious food suppliers, this conference will have a lower carbon footprint than many comparable.

2. Another leading light in the area is “The Connection Crew”, a winner of Deloitte’s 2012 “Social Innovation Pioneers” award. 25% of this London-based crewing & AV company are ex-homeless people who have been trained up as technicians and crew for events.

3. At a 10,000 pax conference our team supported in Asia, a marketplace was constructed at the conference centre for 40 local artisans and community groups to sell organic produce, handmade artefacts and gifts made from responsible materials on site. Co-ordinated by our ground team, this powerful tool, ensured both the organisers and delegates spend was supporting long term economic prosperity in a developing nation.

4. All our Ovation offices can offer clients a selection of charities to partner with but our caring team in Barcelona chose one charity to focus their energy on over last year.  Fundación Fátima is home to 32 children aged between 0 and 12 years without families. With Spain facing its biggest economic crisis ever and public funds being slashed to an absolute minimum, the orphanage was seriously struggling. By putting the Foundation at the centre of a engagement strategy, they organised a number of creative fundraising activities, personally took the children out on day trips to the zoo and FC Barcelona and partnered with Ovation client Symantec to support the shelter through their annual conference. After pitching for an event with Supermarket chain Lidl that included a CSR activity, Lidl decided not to run the event but still wanted to help Ovation’s chosen charity and donated Christmas presents to all the children.

5. Ovation’s Strategic Partner in Greece, Kipling Events, recently organised a community event to coincide with a company training academy. Using the same trainers who were in town to train the Ovation staff, Ovation invited 85 volunteers from Greek NGOs, foundations and associations to attend special sessions delivered by the Ovation experts. The results were transformational for those in attendance; by sharing management strategies from a high-growth global business the organisers were able to spark new thinking and energy in a sector really suffering the worst of the economic downturn.

The last example is potentially a game-changing CSR opportunity. Do you have the power to transform cities and countries where you hold events by using the intellectual capital held by those in attendance?

By thinking big, events have an opportunity to generate a stronger legacy in helping communities, supporting economic prosperity and protecting the environment.

Contact Ovation to find out how you can support and activate your corporate values through live events.

A Good Day for Sustainable Hotels

We all have good days and bad days, it’s a fact of life- Friday last week, fortunately was a great day, a re-invigorating day that reassured me that Singapore has some superb examples of a solid approach to sustainability in the hotel sector . At the frontline of meeting and events Guy and I work with a lot of venues, suppliers and hotels on their commitment to the environment and society and boy does their sophistication differ a lot- from the very basic to the leaders in our space. Working internationally, we come across hotels in some pockets of the globe that don’t know their armpit from their elbow when it comes to sustainable practice and it can be disheartening when they wheel out their finest sales person to take us round the hotel, highlighting their “green” golf course or talking about corporate HQ’s policies with no practice on the ground.

Integrated Tree

Integrated Tree

An “ECO Hotel” with substance

Fortunately, Friday was not one of those days. I had the pleasure of a site inspection at the Siloso beach resort . This resort, located close to convention facilities on Singapore’s Sentosa island has really demonstrated what can be done if you build and operate with sustainability in mind, but they’ve really gone beyond the everyday and thought about how they can do it radically differently. The most striking example being the integration of trees. Normally at the onset of a hotel development space will be cleared to build a hotel and perhaps if you are lucky, ornamental shrubs re-introduced once construction is over amongst the paving and water features. Not here, the Ng family wanted to integrate nature, build around it and include it within the structure- this means the existing trees stayed and the hotel and villas were built around them. This actually provided a threat to worker safety during  construction due to the common electrical storms in this part of the world- each  tree could be a lightning  conductor so every one was individually earthed with a copper wire to ensure safety first. The villas around the property have the existing trees either encased in glass (if they are fast growing) or included in the structure with rain umbrellas (if slow growers). 1 Villa has an amazing 17 trees within the structure and in most cases, the design and layout of the rooms was totally dictated by the position of trees meaning that no villa is the same. Upon questioning, the Manager of the hotel revealed that construction costs were 30% higher due to responsible sourcing & planning  and although the hotel took 18 months to build, the villas required 30 months.

roofgarden

The hotels impressive Roofgarden

What else left me impressed and excited? The 95 metre swimming pool, who’s shape was also dictated by trees but most interestingly avoids the more common heavily chlorinated type , using salt ionised spring water-I didn’t take a dip to test out the salt levels but there’s always next time. When it comes to food they’ve created a closed loop organic food cycle using 1 million Malaysian blue worms. Equipped with a fabulous roof garden, they grow 100% of their herb requirement for the restaurant and 10% of their vegetable needs but most impressively  everything stays within the system.  Fruit and vegetable wste from the kitchen gets mashed, then molasses and bacteria are added to promote decomposition. The friendly Malaysian blue worms then feast on the decomposed waste and create “worm castings” (which is worm excrement to you and me). These castings go back into the cycle as fertiliser for the plants and hence the nutrients are constantly recycled, again and again.  Likewise, other types of food waste are broken down with a sophisticated mulcher which even has a capacity to break bones.  Apparently a human body could be mulched in 12 hours with no remnants remaining, there’s a crime drama storyline in there somewhere.

Elsewhere the hotel source unwanted wood from property renovations to build furniture using their own on site carpentry workshop and house a sophisticated third generation modular heat exchange system that collects heat dispersed in air conditioning and uses it to heat water.  When you’ve got initiatives like this, towel and sheet re-changing programmes are somewhat less exciting so we’ll leave it there- if you are looking for a visionary eco-hotel with a conscious in Singapore, look no further.

Lessons for Sustainable Destinations & Events from Singapore- Water and Land

Once a River, now a Reservoir- Courtesy of 50MM Photography

Having lived in Singapore for most of the last 2 months I’ve still much to learn about this fascinating island state but in this relatively short time have already been left impressed by how the government has used sustainability as a catalyst for innovation- providing lessons for any events business.  The conundrum is why has Singapore come on leaps and bounds in some areas of sustainability where other countries are lagging behind?  The answer is fairly simple, resource scarcity is a very real and tangible challenge in Singapore, albeit due to the quirks of international boundaries.  Take water- 50% of Singapore’s water is imported from outside the country so they’ve invested in correcting this imbalance. Water management has had clear support and funding with the result that two thirds of Singapore’s land surface is now a water catchment area with water stored in 17 reservoirs. One of the most impressive is of course, the old Singapore river which used to be tidal. Although instrumental in creating much of the initial fortune of Singapore, shipping here  has long since moved to a larger scale and what was once a muddy and reeking place each day when the tide went out has now been dammed to create Marina Basin, right in the heart of the city. Other great initiatives include NEWater-  wastewater is collected from toilets, sinks and daily use and treated using micro-filtration, reverse-osmosis and UV technology to recycle it into water that’s good enough to drink. This meets 30% of the city’s water needs, a target that will be increased to 50% of future needs by 2060.

Looking at the population of the city, it’s simply boomed over last 25 years, nearly doubling to over five million. Over the same period, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources proudly stated at the recent launch official launch of the new TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) for Business Coalition Headquarters  on the 6th November  that when you arrive by plane- Singapore is visibly 50% green. This has increased from a little more than a third of the city-state’s area to this impressive percentage. Why? Because the Singapore Government has designated it a high priority- and that’s all part of Singapore’s next “green road map,” its 10-year development plan, the country aims to go from being “a garden city” to “a city in a garden.”

Singapore has built it’s success over the years from attracting the best traders, from spices, to opium to the trading of today- stocks, technology and services and Singapore wants to stay at the top of the places people will want to work, play, live, and raise a family. The government intends to increase the country’s National Park space from from about 3,300 hectares today to 4,200 hectares in the next 10-15 years and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting 3 such parks on my free weekends already and witnessing live the success of this project relating to biodiversity. One such example for the “twitchers” out there is the reintroduction of the Oriental pied hornbill — the bird’s population has increased from just a pair 16 years ago to about 160 today and here’s one of that small number photographed 2 weeks ago on a simple Iphone.

Oriental Pied Hornbill In Singapore Park- Photo R.Simons

So what are the valuable lessons from Singapore’s national approach for the events business?

  1. Designate sustainability a priority at the very top of the business or organisation and fund appropriately
  2. Understand your supply chain and focus on resource challenges
  3. Recycle whatever you can (including sewage)
  4. Treat your event attendees or employees like you would yourself, provide them with healthy environments, sustenance and lifestyles
  5. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly don’t be afraid to innovate!

Scandinavians create Destination Sustainability Index

I am very happy to see that today we launched and published the Scandinavian Destination Sustainability Index, analyzing sustainability performance across 16 cities and 5 countries.

The index  which can be downloaded here, uses 16 performance indicators to measure and benchmark the sustainability commitment and performance of the city government and the destination infrastructure (recycling, renewable energy etc), and the sustainability commitment and performance of the local meetings industry. 

The Index is one of the deliverables of a multi-year ICCA Scandinavian Chapter project to create the world´s first sustainable meetings region.  Already over 50 organizations including Convention and Visitor Bureaus, Destination Marketing Organizations, Venues and Agencies have signed the Scandinavia Sustainable Meetings Accord launched in March 2012. The Accord outlines 10 specific actions, which all signatories commit to, in order to advance sustainable development within the meetings and events industry.

The goal of the Index is to provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each destination and further a dialogue about best practices in the area of sustainable meetings. This project is unique in its scale and collaborative nature.  With the competitive nature of the meetings industry, we are already seeing how the Index we help set strategic targets for the region and drive performance.”

To download the report:

http://www.iccaworld.com/dbs/scandinavian_chapter/dyncat.cfm?catid=4214

Read the full release and down load the new sustainability index here

Behind the scenes of a sustainable EU Presidency

“To have success in sustainability – you just have to make it sufficiently hard for yourself that it becomes easy”. This was the advice from Kirsten Aggersborg, the director of the super sustainable Hotel Axel in Copenhagen.

I think there is some real value to this observation, and this is no where more true than with the Danish Presidency of the European Union Council.

By June 30, when the European Union Presidency 2012 Denmark concludes, the Danish Foreign Ministry Logistics team will have supported the organization of 100 meetings serving 15,000 total participants while meeting criteria of the ISO 20121 event sustainability management system.

With a team of just 22 people, the logistics team delivered an EU Presidency at a fraction of the total cost of past Presidencies. The €30million savings were an important result of the strategic meeting design and sustainable event management system

Working with Wonderful Copenhagen, we made the following video to show how sustainable event management is not complicated, but  that it requires leadership, vision, commitment and discipline.

I take my hat off to Andreas and the Government team for demonstrating the business case of sustainable meetings. And also to the Bella Center, for the paradigm shift in sustainability performance in the last 3 years.

MCI Sustainability Services supported the Danish Foreign ministry in the development of the ISO20121 Sustainable Event Management System, and in the application for third party certification. This project will be one of the largest most ambitious implementations of sustainability in the meetings industry.For more info.

MCI have also led a stakeholder engagement initiative to increase the sustainability and outreach of the Danish Meetings Industry. A sustainability report will be available in the summer on http://www.sustainableeventsdenmark.org

Embedding Sustainability into Copenhagen Meetings Industry

Recorded at EIBTM, Michael Luehrs interviews Steen Jakobsen, Director of Conventions at Wonderful Copenhagen. Steen talks about how Copenhagen has embraced sustainability and embedded it into the meetings product and culture of the MICE industry.  Steen shares the approach – called the Copenhagen Sustainable Meetings Protocol (designed by us), and how leadership, stakeholder engagement and a business approach are critical for success.

You can read more about the work we have been doing with Steen and the Danish Meetings Industry here:  This project know as the Danish Sustainable Events Initiative builds on the COP15 success to make the Danish Presidency of the EU highly sustainable and certified to the new ISO20121. In parallel the project aims to raise up the sustainability performance of hotels, venues and agencies in the rest of Denmark.

 

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