Just recently, a new Sustainable Meetings Accord was signed by a host of convention bureaus, destination marketing organisations, venues and agencies from the five Nordic member countries of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA); Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Together, the five countries strive to become the world's first sustainable meetings region and now VisitDenmark and the Bella Center in Copenhagen, among others, join the ranks too.
The new Sustainability Accord commits the signatories to measure and benchmark the meetings industry's environmental footprint; to train and inform the main players in the industry; and develop new approaches to help clients choose sustainable solutions.
Steen Jakobsen, Congress Director at Wonderful Copenhagen CVB, and one of the first signatories of the new sustainability accord, states:
“Copenhagen already has a unique international status within sustainable meetings and events, but we have no doubts that we can strengthen our position and be even better. That is why we were one of the initiators of this new Nordic cooperation which we expect a great deal from."
Guy Bigwood from MCI Sustainability Services and Project Manager of the new accord, explains:
“This is the first time that a region has come together to ensure best practise concerning sustainability in the meetings industry. The new accord signed in Finlandin March is the culmination of more than two years' work during which the Nordic members of the ICCA have defined an overall vision for the implementation of future meetings and events. And, I am convinced that the destinations included in the project will strengthen their position and take a share of the fast-growing market for sustainable meetings."
Markus Diefenbach, International Marketing Manager - Business Tourism at VisitDenmark, adds on:
“VisitDenmark actively promotes and support the development of sustainable meetings solutions and therefore happily supports the initiative.. The Danes “do” sustainability in all aspects of life, including business events solutions and as the Official National Tourism Organisation of Denmark we gladly join forces with our Nordic partners to create the world’s first sustainable meetings region.”
And Congress and Events Director at the Bella Center, Lene Mortensen, furthermore comments:
‘’For the Bella Center it is an obligation to be a part of the initiatives taken to encourage our region to become a sustainable event destination. We already have great focus on sustainability and being a part of this collaboration with other Nordic partners fits well with our sustainable strategy.’’
Already, the Copenhagen meetings industry is an ardent advocate for creating and using sustainable meetings solutions and these days, the rest of Denmark eagerly follows in its footsteps with new sustainable venues and initiatives popping up everywhere. Best case example is the city of Horsens in central Jutland, which presently co-hosts the Danish EU Presidency along with Copenhagen and has managed to live up to the very high standards set for creating the most sustainable EU Presidency ever.
Copenhagen kick-started its position as a front runner in the development of sustainable meetings when it hosted the UN's climate summit, COP15, in 2009. The group behind the certification of COP15 as the first sustainable international summit have since held more than 100 presentations at international seminars, trade fairs and workshops explaining how a week-long summit can be held in a green manner.
The experience of COP15 was so positive, that a similar sustainability model is now being used to achieve an ISO certification - ISO 2012 01 – of the Danish EU Presidency – the standard used to certify sustainable meetings and events. This initiative is dubbed the Danish Sustainable Events Initiative (DSEI). Other major international events aiming at achieving an ISO 2012 01 certificate includes the Olympic Games in London.
In the spirit of collaboration of leadership and in recognition of the clear and present benefits and returns of sustainable business practices we, member organizations of the ICCA Scandinavian Chapter agree to work together to create a Scandinavian Sustainable Meetings Region. We therefore commit to taking action together to advance sustainable practices within the meetings and events industry by:
- Publicly declaring participation in the Scandinavian Sustainable Meetings Accord and using our personal and business networks to encourage member organisations to sign this Accord.
- Engaging our clients, partners and other interested parties in dialogue about economic, environmental and social sustainability for our industry.
- Educating interested parties, sharing knowledge in sustainable business practices and recognizing ICCA members for their best practice and efforts in sustainable business.
- Encouraging and supporting private-public collaboration with other destinations to share Scandinavian best practices and solutions and, in turn, to learn from others.
- Providing resources to planners to identify responsible, sustainable and certified suppliers in our community in order to help planners create more sustainable events.
- Advocating efficient, equitable and more sustainable use of resources.
- Facilitating the increased use of environmentally friendly transport through better communication with visitors and collaboration with transport providers.
- Calculating the CO2 footprint of a defined Scandinavian meetings industry and aiming to reduce this by 20% by 2020.
- Upholding the highest standards of honesty and fairness and thus maintaining a society with integrity and strong ethical standards.
- Giving back to the community by proactively creating links between the meetings industry and social responsibility initiatives.
To these above commitments, we dedicate leadership focus and attention so that the meetings industry we represent will be more sustainable.
In the months to come, the Scandinavian Sustainable Meetings Accord is expected to expand the number of signatories even further by approaching business leaders across the Nordic region.