Grabing the bull by the horns
This week I have had the pleasure of working in Andalusia in the South of Spain. I had not been to Sevilla for some years and I was struck by how this beautiful city had invested in pedestrianizing the center, installing a new hi-tech tramway and a public biking system. The city has a clear climate strategy and with other integrated plans they have made a substantial difference to the sustainability of the city (health, pollution, quality of life, environmental impact etc), and have become one of the leading green cities in Spain. However there is a total disconnect between the meetings industry and the city government in terms of sustainability. This is not a hard criticism of the CVB and other players but indicative of the issues we face in many destinations around the world. They lack knowledge and leadership: Someone to understand and see the risks and opportunities, grab the bull by the horns and implement a strategic sustainable destination sustainability plan.
This is what London, Melbourne, Portland, Copenhagen and Stockholm are doing, just to name a few of the leaders in sustainable tourism. They realize that add on green initiatives don’t deliver sufficient results – but strategic sustainability does!
Closer to Sevilla, The Costa Del Sol Patronato of Tourism have just started a sustainability project. Led by Belen Gascon, head of the CVB, it aims to transform the destination. Clearly a huge challenge – but we know that change is possible, and that this only happens when someone with guts and vision, stands up and goes against the flow. Belen is typical of the type of committed, remarkable people who are engaging their friends, colleagues and clients in a new vision of tomorrow’s destination; a destination that will be more competitive, more responsible and healthier. Basically a great place to live and work that will be financially, socially and environmentally more sustainable.
Tribe of leaders
In July I take over as President of the GMIC. It is becoming increasingly clear to me, that the GMIC’s role is to help these change agents become better and more fully equipped. The GMIC has to give them the tools, and tricks to become inspirational sustainability leaders, to become the special forces of the sustainable meetings world. The GMIC has to be the place where these guys can “hang out” to “refuel and recharge” with energy and knowledge, sharing their experiences with a tribe of people who speak their same language and stand for something much more important.
If you are a Special agent of change – I recommend you consider becoming a member of the GMIC. www.greenmeetings.info. We have a 67% growth rate in the last year, with 600+ members in 30 countries, 45 business partners, 8 chapters formed and or in formation.
GMIC members are the thought leaders of sustainability. Not surprisingly our members are building highly competitive businesses that our showing above average returns in these tough economic times: Portland, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Denver, The Estoril Congress Center, the Amsterdam Rai Congress Center, EWEA, AMEX, MCI, Novo Nordisk, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco, MeetGreen and a long list of other leaders in sustainability.