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Sustainable Meetings Berlin: “We want to inspire!”
What might an all-round sustainable meeting in Berlin look like? This question is becoming increasingly important in the meetings and congress industry. The visitBerlin Convention Office has faced up to this challenge for more than ten years. A new portal has now been launched: Sustainable Meetings Berlin not only provides valuable tips for sustainable event planning, but also a strong partner network aiming to advance the topic of sustainability in the Berlin MICE industry. But that's by no means all. This is because sustainability has many other faces. Our experts, Luisa Mentz and Kyra Gragert, share their vision in an interview.
What is the status quo in the MICE industry?
You can see that this topic is of great importance in the industry. Many destinations focus on the topic of sustainability, and demand is also growing steadily on the customer side.
Is Sustainable Meetings Berlin the answer?
It is very important to us that we live up to our responsibility and contribute towards more sustainability in the MICE industry. Over the long term, our goal is for Berlin to become a role model in this area. To this end, we first want to raise awareness among event planners and service providers in Berlin and energise them to tackle the topic. We want to inspire people to break new ground by actively addressing them.
"We want to inspire people to break new ground!"
When does a company become truly sustainable?
Today, sustainability includes more than just being environmentally friendly, it is also an economic and social perspective. And there is even a fourth aspect: "Government, Risk and Compliance". This covers everything that is required by law, e.g. compliance guidelines such as the GDPR (note from edit.: Data Protection Basic Regulation). Only those who consider all aspects, from event planning to corporate management, act sustainably.
What differentiates a sustainable meeting from a "normal event"?
The challenge is that there are (still) very different ideas about what is meant by "sustainability". Therefore it is very difficult to measure as a value. For example, an event can be planned more sustainably once disposable crockery and plastic straws have been dispensed with. But if the company behind it does not operate sustainably and socially, it is not credible and transparent.
What does this mean in concrete terms for events, meetings, incentives or congresses?
This means that, in the long term, it is not enough to design the individual event itself in a sustainable way, but the organisers themselves as well as all service providers and partners – from the agency to the hotels to the caterer – should also really work in a completely sustainable way. In all four areas mentioned above.
How can the online platform Sustainable Meetings Berlin support this?
The Sustainable Meetings Berlin platform combines two components: On the one hand, the site contains a clear and transparent listing of Sustainable Partners, e.g. sustainably audited event service providers throughout the city. Since our set of criteria, on which the audit is subject, is oriented towards internationally recognised frameworks (GRI, ISO, EMAS), event planners can rest assured that the Sustainable Partners are truly sustainable. They no longer have to request information from potential service providers themselves or conduct time-consuming research – we have prepared everything. In addition, there is a tool box on the website with tips and tricks for sustainable event planning.
What's so special about it?
The unique feature is our partner network, which we want to make accessible to the event planners. This shows that Berlin is increasingly committed to sustainable event planning and that we are indeed building up expertise in sustainable event planning.
How did you proceed with selecting the partners?
This is underpinned by a very demanding catalogue with 62 criteria and precise sets of criteria for the various industry sectors. We developed the catalogue of criteria in cooperation with partners of the city and an external consulting agency for sustainability. The core criteria must always be fulfilled in order to be involved. In any case, working on the criteria offers a great opportunity for the event service providers.
In what way?
In the course of our audit, we grapple intensively with their processes and structures and thus have the opportunity to uncover potential for optimisation. Those who commit themselves as Sustainable Partners also initiate a continual process of improvement in their company. Through our audit as Sustainable Partners, the companies find out where they currently stand and receive concrete recommendations for action. That is worth a great deal and is indeed also the task of Sustainable Meetings Berlin.
Why is Berlin the right place for sustainable events?
It is already clear to see that Berlin is a hotspot for sustainability. Berlin is a vegan stronghold, start-up city and always in tune with the times. Sustainability has a long tradition here. There are lots of festivals on the topic and that’s why it is the right destination to give priority to it.
How does the BCO support customers in planning sustainable meetings?
We provide information about sustainable local partners, we network and give tips. For example, we have specifically developed an infographic for customers that demonstrates the great alternatives available in event planning. Here you can see, for example, what a difference it makes to abstain from meat or to compensate for CO2. Basically, we give tips from catering to hotel accommodation to arrival or mobility on site.
And finally: Where's the journey going? What is your goal?
Our next major goal is to be listed on the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI). In the long term, however, our great vision is to position Berlin as one of the most sustainable and innovative venues worldwide. Our wish is that some day there will no longer be a difference between sustainable and non-sustainable partners in the Berlin Meeting Guide.
Thank you: We thank Luisa Mentz and Kyra Gragert for the interview!
Want to find out more?
- Take advantage of the expertise and contacts of our teams on sustainable hotels, locations and service partners!
- We will help you with the planning and implementation and bring you together with the event experts in our city.
- Whether that be a conference, congress, meeting or incentive, write to us: sustainable-meetings@visitBerlin.de or take a look on Sustainable Meetings Berlin.
DCI is a global economic development consulting firm with over 50 years of experience based in North America.