Protecting Biodiversity Through Sustainable Events in India

Last year Hyderabad, India was host to the groundbreaking COP11 -Convention on Biological Diversity hosted by the Ministry of the Environment and Forests. Our industrious team in India managed the logistics of more than 11,500 participants and 900 sessions over 11 long days in hand with leading AV provider Dorier Perfectus.

What’s most impressive is not just the sheer scale and complexity of such an important international event in India but what the team managed to achieve in sustainability including a 91% waste diversion rate. We are  pleased to be able to present the legacy and achievements of that event in the our recently released event report:

Sustainable Event Management Activities

The convention aimed to be a leading sustainable event for India, leaving long term positive social and environmental legacies in Andhra Pradesh and concerns were addressed through all phases of event design and execution, including the following activities:

-       Strategic Planning:  The planning team leaders met to identify a strategy for the sustainable performance of the event and created customized targets.

-       Supplier Engagement: Through a two hour educational event and a series of interviews, 50 suppliers were educated about the objectives of the event; key suppliers were questioned about sustainable practices and offered coaching and recommendations for improved results. In particular, the MCI team worked with the Novotel, waste management company and caterer to improve waste management, catering and sustainability measurement processes.

-       Sustainable Procurement: The event management team made a series of conscious decisions in the purchasing of material and services. This includes congress bags,bamboo stage set and exhibitions stands, exhibition USB sticks, printing, catering, communications as well as the selection of logistics teams that reduced transport requirements.

-       Community Impact: Amongst other great initiatives, a truly innovative engagement project was designed with social enterprises and sustainable businesses at the heart.  In  a unique market place within the perimeter of the Novotel Complex 40 local artisans and community groups were represented at The Biodiversity Haat. Stands featured groups selling organic produce, handmade artefacts and those using responsible materials.. Examples of local producers included the “Bodhana Tiruvalla Social Science Society”  who use bee products to fund and operate a Social Rehabilitation Programme; the Uravu  Indigenous Science & Technology Study Centre, a registered, non-profit trust supporting the livelihood of rural woman through end-to-end programmes in bamboo growth, harvest and product manufacturing. Projects like these within the Biodiversity Haat supported a vast number of Indian social development objectives including training in natural resource management, improving literacy, providing employment and women’s rights through to stimulating organic farming and renewable energy sources.

Enjoy a quick run through of the highlights of the event in our video:


I am very happy to see the launch of our  MCI 2011 sustainability report. Entitled “Creating Value”, the  report tells a story of business transformation and how MCI talent are progressively integrating sustainability into the day to day business of MCI.

Learning from our readers, this year we have attempted to use some of the latest features in PDF to embed video and make it more interactive and readable. We have moved some of the more technical features to a separate document for advanced users.

I am also pleased to say that the report was checked by GRI and received a commendable C-Level Application Check Certificate. It is one of (if not) the first reports by an international events agency to use the new GRI Event Organisers Sector Supplement, which I helped to develop.






I cant say that writing a sustainability report for such a large global organisation is easy, but it does get easier through practice. This is the 20th report that I have written in the last few years. I see very clearly that reporting drives improved performance of your CSR strategy. It forces you to carefully and thoughtfully write things down do that a greater number of people can understand your vision and intentions. It then forces you to engage these stakeholders and get their input. This consequently can be used to improve results.

Please have a look at the report and I would love to receive any feedback by answering a few questions in our short online survey

More info on our CSR website.

Sustainable Events: Holiday Season Medley

What better way to close out a busy 2011 than with rousing, inspiring, infectiously enthusiastic, innovative sustainable event initiatives?
We been busy elves of sustainability these last several months and wish to share a few of the events about which we are excited here. As always, we’d very much enjoy hearing about actions and ideas for sustainable events you’d like to share!

We draw attention to the collaboration underway in Denmark. In the lead up to the European Union presidency which will rotate to Denmark in January, 2012, the team that brought you the Copenhagen Sustainable Meetings Protocol comes Sustainable Events Denmark, a nationwide effort to elevate sustainability as a standard practice throughout the Danish meetings industry as a way to showcase Danish leadership, innovation and design.

Andreas Clausen Boor, Head of Logistics for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, has been both the spark and, as the client representative, the patron of the initiative. Hear him explain it in his own terms in this great video.

Check out the new industry resource, the Sustainable Events Denmark portal, and share your suggestions, impressions and testimonials: here

Sweat, Tears and Bloody Knuckles: How Sustainability Reporting is making MCI a better company

“Sweat, Tears and Bloody Knuckles: How our Sustainability Report is making us a better company”

The idea was simple enough.  Rather than deliver the minimum effort to be compliant with the UN Global Compact Communications on Progress requirement, we’d take additional steps to conduct measurements of the known sustainability impacts of our business.  We would, we mused, create a report which complied with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) criteria for transparent communication of our company’s business performance.

What started as a simple concept proved, in actuality, to be a long and challenging process of data mining and fact chasing across 45 offices, 22 countries and hundreds of people. We simply, did not have any processes installed to allow us to conduct accurate measurement of our social and environmental impacts.

Now that its done, the difficulties we experienced, had the unexpected result of creating elevated engagement from our team and a valuable revamp of – and renewed commitment to – our sustainable business strategy.  The process of evaluating our business strategy along with the operational impacts of our business was an opportunity to gain active participation from people within the organization who didn’t previously see their direct connection to sustainable business practices.

This infusion of new ideas and new energy from a broad cross section of our company also meant that the process of completing the report required a greater investment of time.  But we wouldn’t trade that experience to have done it any faster.  It was this very process of completing forms and asking questions and following up with different offices, which delivered the greatest insights, helping us to identify barriers to success and build a stronger culture of sustainability. But dont´just take my word for it: here is a video of our CEO Sebastien Tondeur, communicating the report to our staff last week:

Like many things the first time is always a challenge. We have already started to prepare our 2011 report and we are now improving and creating new and more integrated processes that will allow us to collect data simply and easily. The next report will be much better and less stressful to produce.

Pioneering Work

Although this is our second report, it is our first to be GRI checked. We believe that we are the first international meetings and events agency to complete a sustainability report which meets GRI criteria for transparent communication of business performance. It also uses a draft of the new GRI Event Organisers Sector Supplement which we have been involved in creating.

While we are very proud of that, we understand that the real value of reporting isn’t in the PR of showing that we’re compliant with GRI standards or even by providing a helpful example for others in the industry, the real value is the process itself which step by step, is helping us make a better company.

You can read our report here  and we very much welcome your suggestions, criticism and ideas to improve this disclosure.

The Power of Action: Giving thanks, sharing findings

Thank you! The Power of Action community service event  mentioned in our earlier post exceeded every possible goal we imagined.  The enthusiastic engagement and generosity of our team, partners and participants brought the following exciting results:

  • 171 people, including 125 kids, participated in a 4 hour long session to create 19 different figures of (mostly) waste materials
  • 108 graduation certificates were awarded to students graduating Young Guru Academy’s Read Think Share program
  • And, *drum roll* 6467 €uros were raised in support of the development of the 111th Read Think Share creative learning library in Turkey, this one in Istanbul

These small points can’t begin to tell the story, though.  We invite you to have a look at the fun videos and photos from the event.

What did we learn?

The integration of community action projects has become an important aspect of creating sustainable meetings and events. Without a ‘how to’ guide, many planners are left frustrated with the effort required to include a community action project.  Here are a few takeaways from our experience:

Purpose: Planners should give meaningful thought to their reason and intention for including a community action project.  It can be helpful to remember this: “It’s not about you”.   Start with a purpose to consider the needs of the people receiving your support.  That said, any project should be aligned with the central mission and values of the organization.

Selection: Non Government Organizations (NGOs) or charities are not event suppliers.  It’s possible the community partner is not (a) in need of the help you can provide or (b) able to respond to the needs of planners.  In this article, we’ve provided some thoughts of Do’s and Don’ts of working with NGOs.

Engagement: Increase participation through promotion in the weeks leading up to the meeting. Conference teasers, social media sites and individual emails can build a sense of excitement and increase the number of attendees. Reach out not only to potential participants but also the members of your network, including your supply chain.  MCI received school supplies and, from Parthen, we received real money needed to support the fund raising goal. Importantly, don’t forget to involve members of the community itself.  It’s important they have a stake in the organization and action.

Follow Up: Maintain contact with the NGO to stay apprised of their actions and provide updates to your stakeholders about the impact of their support.

What are some of the best ideas you’ve seen in the organization of meetings and events?  Please share your thoughts and examples!

The Power of Action

In our offices, November means the fast approach of the much anticipated MCI International Business Meeting.  Part education summit, part celebration, the IBM has become the turntable to which the MCI culture dances.  Moving each year to a different exciting destination, the IBM represents the most positive aspects of the company culture in a vibrant and exciting environment.  In recent years, MCI’s strategic plan to weave CSR into the business plan has included a movement to integrate sustainable event management practices more fully into the IBM experience.

Play 4 Africa/Shoes for Africa

In 2009, MCI brought the IBM to Vienna, Austria.  In an effort to include a ‘giving back’ element, we collaborated with Kiwi Shoes 4 Africa and also the Play 4 Africa social giving campaigns.  MCI teams from around the world brought with them over 850 pairs of shoes which were distributed throughout Africa as part of the Kiwi campaign.  We also passed the hat and asked for cash contributions from the team.  The cash raised was matched by MCI founder and President Roger Tondeur and was donated to the Play 4 Africa campaign.  The donation was enough to purchase 40 full football kits for residents of a UN refugee camp in Africa.

Building Community

Encouraged by the enthusiastic response from our team, we sought to create an even more exciting project for IBM 2010, Istanbul, Turkey.  We learned from the Vienna experience that community giving campaigns need clear strategy to avoid pitfalls common to such actions.  A framework of principles and guidelines are needed to select a campaign which aligns with our unique culture and brand.  Also, better planning can result in better partnerships and the creation of a campaign whose results match the intended, desired outcome.  That’s not always the case with giving campaigns. For example, we learned that organizations must be careful in giving products to vulnerable communities as this can negatively affect local business.  This earlier post helps review the Do’s and Don’ts of community giving campaigns.

Working with the MCI Executive Team, we created guidelines to inform MCI Community Action Projects.  Any project we undertake must Build Community, Promote Education, and Inspire Fun.

We call our initiative the Power of Action.

Partnering with the Young Guru Academy, MCI, and MCI partners including the Istanbul CVB, we will raise funds to build a children’s library whose curriculum is specifically designed to inspire creative thinking.  The Read Think Share program has already built 110 such libraries to benefit disadvantaged youth throughout Turkey and we aim to build number 111. Here’s Ali from The Young Guru Academy sharing a bit about Read Think Share

To add an element of fun, our MCI team have invited the 100 graduating students of the Read Think Share program to join us in a spirited afternoon where we’ll construct sculptures of iconic landmarks using ‘waste’ materials. After the completion of the IBM event, we’ll select a representative from an MCI office to participate in the classroom along side University students to teach the kids selected for the Read Think Share program.  It’s a great opportunity to build our commitment to social responsibility  from within.

Check out the presentation explaining our 2010 project MCI Power of Action.

We’re excited about this collaboration and for the opportunity to make a difference for the community of Istanbul.  Stay tuned for updates and result of the effort.

Building a New Era of Sustainability

I am in New York with MCI President Roger Tondeur for the 2010 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit. This is a big day for me, as it see the realization of a dream. In 2007 under the recommendation of Mike Wallace (now director of the G3 framework at GRI), we signed a letter of commitment and became a signatory of the Global Compact. Our journey since then has seen MCI work to incorporate the 10 global compact principles into the day to day operations of MCI. Now 3 years have passed and Sustainability is one of the key pillars of MCIs business plan, and this commitment is demonstrated with the investment, energy and time dedicated to sustainability by the MCI management team. As a result of this journey, MCI has become increasingly involved in the organization of events about sustainability. We organized the COP15 Climate Conference, 3 regional Global Compact meetings, the GRI conference, the world business summit on climate change, and now the big one – The Global Compact 2010 Leaders Summit.

By participating at the summit Roger and I are coming to network with other members, seek opportunities for collaboration and to learn from other organizations best practices. As Roger said to me today, “I know sustainability is important, but we have to get much more knowledgeable about the subject and how we integrate it into MCIs future”

It’s great to see that real progress is being made globally, and that the movement toward a more sustainable economy and business context is clearly gaining momentum. Its even more rewarding to see that by integrating sustainability into our business strategy, MCI has developed the skills and content knowledge that can help organizations such as the Global Compact strategically improve in the deliver of their messaging, and their ability to engage and inspire their members to go the next level in developing value for their businesses.

You can follow the UNGC Summit on Live Webcast:

CSR – the MCI Way

At our recent MCI International Business meeting in Vienna, I had the honour of giving a plenary presentation to over 600 of our talent.

In the video you can see me explain CSR – the MCI way. I talk about Key CSR accomplishments in 2009 and the MCI CSR vision and strategy. You can then see the presentation of the 2009 MCI Leadership in CSR award that was presented to MCI Sweden.

To understand why i am a bit choked up and emotional when I start the keynote, I recommend that you first listen to Charlotte Gough reading the Lost Generation Poem

We are not a part of the Lost Generation

At the recent MCI International Business meeting (IBM) in Vienna, over 600 MCI staff participated for three days in plenary sessions, workshops, training classes and of-course a few drinks.

For my CSR update session, we decided to start the plenary with something a little different.. Have a look at the video and listen to Charlotte Gough from the MCI UK office reading the memorable “lost generation” poem from Jonathan Reed.

This poem sums up and reflects the attitude, vision and aspirations of what we are trying to achieve with the MCI CSR program. Not surprisingly she received a standing ovation, which was well deserved. Charley your a star!

MCI announces winner of CSR Award

In the lead up to the annual business meeting held this year in Vienna, Austria, MCI offices from around the world competed to bring home the MCI Leadership in CSR award, 2009.

Applications were submitted and subsequently forwarded for judging.  Points were allocated in 5 different categories:

•Office CSR Plan
•Green Globe Index Ranking
•Integration of CSR into sales and operational processes
•Stakeholder Engagement
• ‘X’ Factor
3 finalists were selected: 2008 winner Dublin, Sweden and Hong Kong.  When the dust had settled, MCI Sweden emerged as the winner!

MCI Sweden winning CSR Award. Presented by Guy and Joelle - Group HR Director

The applications revealed a long list of practical actions most offices could integrate into a CSR plan.  The short presentation below captures highlights of these actions.  Please have a look and share with us your own ideas.
To a more sustainable 2010!

(Apologies.  This file is temporarily unavailable.  Please notify us if you would like to have access to this presentation//michael)


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