Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Thursday 5 July 2007

A conference cup, not a bag

WEEC 2007 - 5. All these days I have been - without success - looking out for the information on the ecological footprint of the conference. I finally asked one of the organizers. I learned that some work was done on procurement and waste management. And in the exhibition hall was a box for suggestions. Over dinner last night I had boasted that I could think of at least twenty ideas how the organizers could improve a next time. Today walking from one paper presentation to another - without getting too excited about the content of most of them – I came across many aspects of the conference where the footprint can be reduced. Here are my twenty suggestions:

1. Provide people with their own cup, so that no plastic cups are needed for water and dish washing after coffee breaks is minimized.
2. Do not provide participants with a conference bag, 80% is not used afterwards and ends up in the dust bin.
3. Have a detailed mobility plan that foresees in different seizes of vehicles to avoid that buses have to go almost empty.
4. Avoid large conference centers if you cannot influence their environmental management.
5. Demand from exhibitors that their stand is energy efficient and minimizes the use of paper. Make creative use of the internet.
6. Provide participants with a (sponsored?) memory stick with all the conference documentation.
7. Provide participants with a (sponsored?) mobile that only works in the building with an address book of the phone numbers of the other participants.
8. Do not use plastic name tags, but have something of the local culture that is produced environment friendly.
9. Identify local or national NGO projects, that sequester carbon and can be used to neutralize the carbon footprints of participants coming by air.
10. Ask a higher conference fee from participants who travel by air or travel by private car used by only a single person, than people who take trains or buses.
11. Do not provide participants with a special ballpoint, even most ballpoints are not used afterwards and end up in the waste bin.
12. Have a checklist with clear and specified demands of environmental management for the business companies you procure products or services from.
13. Do not provide translation of plenary session, when only 1% of the participants needs translation for only one speaker. Arrange in that case for help from bilingual participants.
14. Include compensation for the average national ecological footprint of participants in the pricing of conference fees.
15. Invite exhibitors from the recycling and sustainable design sector showing the latest developments in that industry.
16. Provide transportation only to the cheaper hotels: those who can afford the luxury of four star hotels, can pay for their own transportation.
17. Do not provide free parking for people who come to the conference venue by private car.
18. Make sure the conference time schedules take optimal advantage of daylight.
19. Have fresh fruits, fruit juice and other healthy alternatives for tea and coffee.
20. Provide participants with the experience how good vegetarian and ecological catering can be or have a conference dinner in slow food tradition.

Over lunch Suzana Padua tells me about her Institute for Ecological Research and its new cause related marketing partnerships with the private sector. A partnership with Havaianas, producer of flip-flop sandals with Brazilian fauna species stamped on their soles. The aim is to popularize Brazilian species. A percentage of the net sales goes to IPƊ. An education boat in the Amazon, together with Grupo Martins (a large retail company), which offers continuous education for local communities to enhance livelihoods through sustainable practices. A partnership with Natura, a Brazilian cosmetic company, is making it possible for IPE to build a campus where a Master’s program on conservation and sustainability will be offered.

1 comment:

Nguyet, Do Van said...

For number 5, 6 and 7 I suggest to put all electronic files in one common folder/website that participants can access and download. Using skype is also green alternative to workshop communication/traveling.

All the best,


PS: Great to see your blog, very good way of learning and reflection. I attended one of your presentation in UNDP Vietnam office in 2001-2002, and now I just registered Live&Learn Environmental Education as one local NGO in Vietnam.