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

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.


Business Case for Sustainable Events

At EIBTM I was interviewed by Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing at Oracle and President of the GMIC.  In this short video both Paul and I share some of our key views on the business case for sustainability: including perception that sustainable meetings are more expensive, reporting, measurement and supplier engagement. We also discuss about the importance of leadership, best practice and community activation.

“What do the leaders do? the ask lots of questions”

Thank you to Maarten Vanneste for the production.

Sustainable events: Examples & Strategy

When it comes to sustainable events, most professional meetings planners understand the ’why’ but not the ’how’. An intrepid few invest time and effort to piece together different tactics in support of a more responsible event, but rarely does the approach have any strategic plan. Rarer still are the events which produce a thoughtful report which transparently communicates to stakeholders the environmental and/or social impacts incurred as a result of the event itself.  CSR reporting experts like Elaine Cohen have taken note (see post)

A number of imminent, important happenings may help bring order and support to meetings industry professionals seeking to improve their commitment to the organization of sustainable events. First, the release of a report on the organization of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen (COP15) offers among the most recent examples of a sustainable event report. Exhaustive in detail and revealing of both planner failings and successes, the report will provide concrete examples of specific actions planners (and communities) can, and should, take to improve chances for a more responsible event. COP15, the first United Nations event to successfully seek compliance with the BS8901 sustainable event management standard , becomes the first to submit an event assessment report to feature Global Reporting Initiative compliance.

A corollary document to the COP15 report will also be released next week. Titled the “Copenhagen Sustainable Meetings Protocol” (CSMP), the whitepaper seeks to provide a framework for planners to integrate existing local and international certifications and standards for sustainable event management. Placing a special focus on BS8901, the APEX green meetings standards and the Global Reporting initiative for events, the CSMP gives clear guidance for developing strategy and for stakeholder engagement, which was a special hallmark of the COP15 event planning process. MCI Sustainability Services is proud to have authored the documents and to have participated in the watershed event and vibrant discussions which informed them. Information about the release of the documents can be found here next week. Here, too. For more sustainable events, stay tuned!

Sust-Daneable even in the snow

Copenhagen Bike Capital of the World

As you probably have read, over 37% of the Danes use the bicycle daily. The mayor’s goal is 50% and you can see his plan here.

You could understand these fantastic figures in a country with a warm climate – but look at the pictures. Its snowing – cold – and windy and those sust-Dane-able Danes are out there on their bicycles. This tenacity and determination is why the Danes are leading the world in climate solutions.

Performance by Commitment

The lovely smiling face is Sandra from the Hotel Guldsmeden. She is the general manager and owner of the Axel and group. For me, the Axel is one of the top performing sustainable hotels in Copenhagen and probably in Europe. Their attitude to life, services, the community and the planet is exceptional. Sandra and the team decide to pursue and now have achieved GreenGlobe certification. That’s interesting when the majority of the city is GreenKey – however as Sandra commented; GreenKey was to easy for us to achieve. We wanted a standard that would push us to get even better.

In the photo Sandra was giving me a lift to the train-station. Now that is what I call Danish Service.

Climate Summit for Mayors

Mayors from the world’s biggest cities discuss their responsibility in climate change matters.

If our teams in MCI Copenhagen were not busy enough with cop15, for the last couple of days they have been providing PCO services for the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayor

The City Hall of Copenhagen has seen its fair share of political hot shots, but the gathering of more than 80 high-profile mayors from some of the biggest cities in the world, was impressive.

Read more about it here:

Governor Arnold at the Mayors Climate Summit

COP15 Event Carbon Strategy

Continuing with their solid sustainable event management leadership, the Danish government has decided tooffset the entire measured emisions of the cop15 climate conference.

Vestas Wind Turbine Installed for COP15

The UNFCCC secretariat in Bonn has an initial estimate of the overall emissions from COP15 at 40,500 tonnes of CO2. However with the greater number of attendees the figure will be much higher.

The government will offset the emisions via a project in Bangladesh which involves replacing outdated brick kilns in Dhaka. The investment will be approx 700.000€. This is probably one of the largest conferences ever offset.

At the Bella Center a wind turbine was installed as an energy showcase. The turbine generates energy that feeds the national grid. The lifecycle carbon impact of the turbine is more than the carbon saved by the energy generated upto COP15. However if it stays in place post  cop15 then it will start to generate long term carbon benefits.

Its important to mention that the best carbon strategy is always reduce and this is what the government team have been focused on.

More information can be found or read this excellent post at

COP15 conforms to BS8901 certification standard!

Hot off the press! Danish Certification issued today their official report which confirms “The management system used to plan and deliver COP15 conforms to BS 8901:2009″.  For sustainable event enthusiasts, this is much welcome news.

For those of us with MCI Sustainability Services, who have worked behind the scenes to help document and guide the process, it’s nothing short of thrilling.  As you can see with the smile on Guy’s face.

The arrival at this stage of a long and difficult process allows us to make the following observations:

1)  The organizers of COP15, Jan-Christoph Napierski in particular, are highly organized and skilled in the arts of observing good, systematic approaches which included impressive effort to identify and engage their stakeholders.

2) No planners or stakeholders were injured in the process to document COP15 compliance with BS8901. In other words, it’s possible and even recommended that others work to pursue higher standards of sustainable events.

Over the next several weeks, we will be working hard to capture the details and processes behind the organization of the event and will integrate them into a document called ‘The Copenhagen Sustainable Meetings Protocol’.  Look for more information about the CSMP here

Look for more information about sustainable aspects of COP15 at their web page

Business leaders call for clear climate policies

I am at the World Business Summit on Climate Change and with a little help from Reuters would like to share some views from the UN secretary General

Industry should play its part in the fight against climate change by persuading governments to aid carbon cuts rather than lobbying against them, the U.N. Secretary-General told CEOs in Copenhagen today.

Business leaders met in Denmark today at the World Business Summit on Climate change to try to unite behind a common call for long-term climate policies, ahead of the U.N. conference in December designed to forge a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

“For those who are directly or implicitly lobbying against climate action I have a clear message: your ideas are out of date and you are running out of time,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting of more than 500 business leaders.

“The smart money is on the green economy,” he said. “Leaders sometimes are weak because they are short-sighted to get the votes,” he added, urging businesses to lobby for carbon cuts.

Full coverage of the speech can be found here or a written version on the UN Global Compact web site.

MCI is the event logistics and sustainability consulting partner for the World Business Summit on Climate Change, the UN Climate Change Conference, the World Mayors Summit on Climate Change and the UN Global Compact leaders summit

Copenhagen leads the way in large event greening

In preparation of the UN climate change conference cop15, the city of Copenhagen and the national meetings industry stakeholders are making a serious commitment to greening their wonderful city.

In the attached presentation you can hear Jan-Christoph Napierski, head of Greening for COP15, talk about his challenges and priorities to increase the sustainability of the event.

Jan-Christoph in combination with 11 organisers of other key Copenhagen events have formed the Copenhagen Green Events Taskforce. Together with the IOC, World Out Games, the World Business Summit on climate change, the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change and others, the taskforce meets regular to address sustainability issues and challenges. Together they share best practice, and have lobbied and leveraged their influence to create change in the Danish meetings market place. This type of initiative is a first in its kind based on scale and stakeholder engagement.

More to come about the Copenhagen initiatives in the future.

MCI is the PCO for COP15, the World Business summit on Climate change, and the IOC conference. We are also consultants to the Bella Center


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