As delegates place growing significance on the sustainability of a conference or destination, event organisers can inspire attendance through a dedication to eco-friendliness. Nicole Walker, Managing Director of Arinex lists six ways to showcase this commitment:
1) Bring delegates on the journey
Start by establishing some sustainability goals at the outset of event planning and ways to achieve them such as making the event carbon neutral, appointing a sustainability officer, going paperless or supporting a social cause. No matter the extent of your commitment, make sure to share it. Keep your audience engaged in the sustainability journey by communicating your goals early and giving updates on your progress.
2) Let delegates choose carbon offset projects
When organising a carbon neutral event, you will need to compensate for emissions that cannot be eliminated by investing in carbon offsets. The Australian Government’s Climate Active enables events to be certified carbon neutral and carbon credits can be purchased for numerous projects that reduce emissions. Involve delegates by inviting them to vote on a project to support such as reforestation or renewable energy development.
3) Partner with an eco-conscious airline
Encourage delegates to book their travel with an airline that offers carbon offsetting or go a step further by partnering with an airline with strong sustainability initiatives.
One great example of this is the 21st General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, to be held in Sydney in September 2023. The event’s airline partner, Qantas, is matching every carbon offset purchased by delegates and providing discounts on Qantas flights for 10 days either side of the conference. The airline will also report on the carbon impact of any Qantas travel associated with the event.
Sea Darwin offers eco cruises and tour experiences including a tour on Bare Sand Island to view seasonal turtle nesting.
4) Involve delegates in a legacy initiative
In addition to fostering collaboration at conferences, finding a specific initiative through which attendees can give back to the local community can also increase attendance.
Many convention centres and bureaux have existing relationships with social enterprises and local businesses that event organisers can tap into.
The International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has a dedicated Legacy Program to connect clients and attendees with experiences, products and initiatives that support the local environment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, entrepreneurs, innovators and creatives.
5) Offer sustainable pre and post tours
Inspire delegates to attend your conference and extend their stay with a pre or post tour of sustainable eco experiences.
Event organisers can be inspired by the Tropical North Queensland Sustainable Travel Hub, which is an easy way to find interactive conservation projects, immersive cultural experiences and eco-certified operators including Skyrail Rainforest Cableway – the first tourism operator in the world to achieve EarthCheck Master Certification.
On Tasmania’s east coast Saffire Freycinet (cover photo), located in Freycinet National Park offers more than just luxury accommodation in a tranquil setting. Guests can take guided tours of the one-hectare, free-range Tasmanian devil enclosure and learn about the breeding program supporting the endangered species.
In the Northern Territory, Sea Darwin is owned and operated by a marine scientist, Jim Smith and his family. They offer eco cruises and tour experiences including a tour on Bare Sand Island to view seasonal turtle nesting. Each ticket sold supports the Austurtle Research Project.
Through the ICC Sydney Legacy Program, clients can connect with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander culture.
6) Tell the stories behind the menus
Expose your delegates to the flavours of your event’s destination by highlighting the cuisine and stories behind it. Convention Centres across Australia are renowned for their focus on fresh, local and sustainably sourced ingredients.
The Adelaide Convention Centre’s Honest Goodness menu is all about feel-good, whole food. The menu features a range of plant-based dishes and native ingredients such as lemon myrtle and bush tomatoes which are sourced through local First Nations growers.
Along with sourcing its produce from local farmers and suppliers wherever possible, the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre has a zero-food-waste philosophy. The Centre has installed an organic waste food dehydrator which turns food waste into a dry nutrient rich biomass which is used as a soil enhancer for local parklands.
As the first convention centre in the world to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre has raised the bar again with its soon-to-open rooftop carpark-turned-urban farm. Melbourne SkyFarm is a 2,000 sq m space where visitors can tour the working farm, visit the orchard and sample honey from the rooftop hives. There’s also a sustainable café, event spaces and an environmental education centre.
This article was first published by HQ – The Association Magazine.