Green encyclopedia for event planners
Information about sustainability
Our green encyclopedia gives you an overview of the various terms used in connection with sustainability in the meeting and event industry:
The Agenda 2030
“The Agenda 2030 contains goals for sustainable development (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs). Sustainable development is understood as a comprehensive development in economic, ecological and social terms.
The Agenda 2030 was adopted in September 2015 by the member states of the United Nations. It is valid for all states of this world – irrespective of whether they are developing, emerging or industrial countries.
Primarily, the Agenda 2030 refers to the level of nation states. However, it is also relevant to the regional and local level, without which government goals usually cannot be accomplished.
At the heart of the Agenda 2030 are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 subgoals. These goals relate to topics as diverse as poverty, health, education, energy, work and international partnership. (…)”
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
"Corporate social reponsibility", or CSR for short […] refers to a company's responsibility for its impact on society. This includes social, environmental and economic aspects, as for example outlined in the internationally recognised reference documents on CSR, chief among them the fundamental ILO declaration on multinational enterprises and social policy, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact and ISO 26000. More specifically, CSR for example involves fair business practices, staff-oriented human resource management, economical use of natural resources, protection of the climate and environment, sincere commitment to the local community and also responsibility along the global supply chain.
Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (2018)/ https://www.csr-in-deutschland.de/EN/What-is-CSR/Background/Sustainabil…
"CO2 is a gas and is also called carbon dioxide. It occurs naturally in the Earth's atmosphere. CO2 emissions are caused by the combustion of carbonaceous materials such as oil, coal and wood. Therefore, the amount of CO2 emissions has increased enormously since industrialisation. Large quantities of CO2 are caused by electricity and heat generators, industry, but also private households. (...) CO2 leads to the so-called greenhouse effect. The natural greenhouse effect ensures that the sun warms the earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the warming energy of the sun would radiate back into space and it would be much colder on earth.
The CO2 released by humans through the burning of fossil fuels increases the greenhouse effect. The average global temperature is rising measurably. (…)“
Source: (German text translated into English) https://www.co2online.com/topics/climate-protection-and-private-households/
"The German chemist Michael Braungart and the American architect William McDonough developed the Cradle to Cradle principle (C2C).
The idea is to think in terms of product cycles that do not generate waste in the true sense of the word. Instead, all materials used in the product should be able to be either reused or composted after use. This could create a waste-free economy that no longer uses harmful substances, and our current cradle-to-grave principle, where everything ends up in the trash and is not recycled, would be history. However, this also requires a holistic thinking of the production companies and a lot of creativity and innovative thinking.”
CSR Reporting Commitment
"In 2014, the European Parliament and the member states of the EU have adopted a directive to extend the reporting of large capital market-oriented companies, credit institutions, financial services institutions and insurance companies (so-called CSR directive). The aim of the directive is in particular to increase transparency on environmental and social aspects of companies in the EU. This includes information on environmental, social and labour issues as well as respect for human rights and the fight against corruption and bribery. Germany has transposed the directive into national law (CSR-Richtlinie-Umsetzungsgesetz). The CSR Directive Implementation Act has been applicable to management reports since fiscal year 2017. (…)“
Source: Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (2018) / http://www.csr-in-deutschland.de/DE/Politik/CSR-national/Aktivitaeten-d…
3 pillars of Sustainability
“Sustainability ideally means meeting the needs of the present generation using the resources that are available without bothering the future generations to come. It can also be defined as an integration of 3 pillars of social, economic and environmental columns. Under this concept, people look for an approach that is equally balanced with long term profitability, maximum environmental care, and social responsibilities. If any of these three pillars is weak, then the whole system will be unsustainable on the whole. The goal of these three pillars is to bring sustainability to the world. (…)”
„(…) Energy efficiency is a means of measuring the energy-expenditure required to achieve a certain benefit. The lower the losses in energy to achieve a specific purpose are, the higher is the degree of energy efficiency. (…) Energy demand is increasing worldwide. The energy market situation is heating up and energy prices are on the rise. Instabilities in many exporting and transit countries are a cause for concern and the increased combustion of fossil energy sources is accelerating climate change. An expansion of energy supply options is costly and will take time. On the other hand, increasing energy efficiency curbs energy prices, reduces dependency on energy imports, counteracts energy distribution conflicts and cuts climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions. (…)
Example: (...) Avoid incandescent and halogen lamps. Fluorescent tubes, LEDs and compact fluorescent lamps (= "energy-saving lamps") are particularly efficient. LEDs are particularly suitable for rooms that are used frequently but only for short periods, such as corridors or stairwells. (…)“
Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC)
Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) is a combined area of focus developed to cover an organization's strategy to handle any interdependencies between the three components. GRC aids an organization in achieving its goals through coordinating strategies around corporate governance, enterprise risk management (ERM) and compliance with any regulated requirements. Small or enterprise-sized organizations can implement GRC.
GRC provides an organization with a set of practices to be carried out responsibly. The three components of GRC are broken down as follows:
1. Governance refers to the ethical management of an organization by organization leaders.
2. Risk refers to minimizing the risks an organization may face which would hinder its operations.
3. Compliance refers to the level of conformance to business operations or practices.
“(…) Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly.
For example, companies involved in greenwashing behavior might make claims that their products are from recycled materials or have energy-saving benefits. Although some of the environmental claims might be partly true, companies engaged in greenwashing typically exaggerate their claims or the benefits in an attempt to mislead consumers. (…)”
Carbon offsetting/Climate neutrality
"Offsetting" refers to payments to finance investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. wind turbines in developing countries). From this point of view, voluntary compensation payments are a simple and short-term effective way for private individuals or companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by "tons" and thereby offset their own emissions.
Many providers of compensation payments offer the possibility of offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of specific activities (e.g. air travel). In some cases, the compensation payment is firmly linked to the purchase of a "climate neutral" product. Furthermore, one can also determine and compensate one's total CO2e emissions (CO² equivalents) with a CO2 calculator. (…)“
"(...) The term "climate neutral" on products is not protected by law. It merely signals that the company is making compensation payments for this product. However, the conditions for these compensation payments are not standardised or prescribed. The entire life cycle of the product or only the manufacturing process in the company may have been considered. Furthermore, the term does not allow a statement to be made as to whether the company is making efforts to reduce other environmental impacts (e.g. water pollution) or whether the product itself is environmentally friendly. (…)“
Climate Action Plan 2050
“In November 2016, the German government adopted the Climate Action Plan 2050, making Germany one of the first countries to submit the long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy to the UN as required under the Paris Agreement. The Climate Action Plan 2050 confirms and specifies the German government's ambitious climate targets.
Germany's long-term goal is to become extensively greenhouse gas-neutral by 2050. This is based on the target in the Paris Agreement to achieve global greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of the century. (…)
The medium-term target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. In its Climate Action Plan 2050, the German government also lays down 2030 targets for individual sectors, describes the necessary development pathways for them, lists initial measures for implementation and establishes a process for monitoring and updating policies and measures. With this plan, Germany will play its part in achieving the target set out in the Paris Agreement to keep global warming significantly below two degrees Celsius or even limit it to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. (…)”
"(…) The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. (…)"
"Food waste is expensive and harmful to the environment and climate. Nevertheless, one third of all edible food is lost worldwide. (...) Every year, around 18 million tonnes of food end up in the bin in Germany. This corresponds to 571 kg of food lost per second. Both food that is not suitable for consumption and edible food ends up in the bin. The latter is known as food waste. Food is wasted along the entire value chain, from field to plate. In households, most food is thrown away, about 102 kg per person per year. Although out-of-home catering (restaurants, caterers, etc.) causes significantly less food waste, the reduction potential here is particularly high.”
Legacy is a term that is nowadays increasingly associated with the sustainable management of companies. In a narrower sense, legacy means dealing with the question of what a company leaves behind at each stage of the value chain through its actions and management. Applied to the congress and event industry, legacy encompasses the positive and negative effects that an event and its participants leave behind at the destination.
Source: Own wording
“Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental and social - also known informally as profits, planet and people. Sustainability emerged as a component of corporate ethics in response to perceived public discontent over the long-term damage caused by a focus on short-term profits. (…)”
Source: Investopedia (2018) / https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sustainability.asp
Sustainable Events - Green Events
“(…) Green events are events designed, organised and carried out using sustainability criteria and measures, contributing at the same time to strengthening the economy of a territory and taking into account social aspects. In fact, the organization of events and meetings has environmental repercussions in all its components (choice of participants' travel, catering, printing and distribution of materials, waste, etc.). (…)”
Source: Alpine Convention (2018) / http://www.alpconv.org/en/organization/permanentSecretariat/pages/green…
Sustainable Event Management
“(…) According to ISO 20121, sustainable event management is the process of integrating environmental and social responsibility issues into event planning. Sustainable event management requires you consider the needs and values of different stakeholders that are impacted by your event. On the one hand, you take steps to reduce significant negative impacts, or harm, such as solid waste. While on the other hand you also seek out opportunities for events to leave positive legacies that benefit communities, including philanthropic and volunteer projects. (…) On average, a single guest discards 1.89kg of waste per day, of which 1.16kg is landfill materials. To put this into perspective, that’s the equivalent of 2.6 (or 3480 kg) weight of compact cars for a 3-day 1000 person event going to landfill each time. (…)”
Source: Julius Solaris (2018) / https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/sustainable-event-management
Sustainability Strategy of the German Federal Government
Management concept for sustainability
“The Sustainable Development Strategy is designed to facilitate the practical orientation towards sustainable action by politics and society - the goal is to achieve environmentally, economically and socially balanced development. (…) Sustainable development (sustainability) is a guiding principle for the policies of the Federal Government. As the goal and benchmark of government action at national, European and international level, it must be taken into consideration for measures in all policy areas. The planetary boundaries of our earth, together with the orientation towards a life of dignity for all, form the absolute guidelines for political decisions.
Sustainability aims to achieve intergenerational equity, social cohesion, quality of life and recognition of international responsibility. In this sense, economic performance, the protection of the natural foundations of life and social responsibility must be reconciled with each other, so that developments are sustainable in the long term. (…)”
“The ecological footprint was developed by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees in the mid-1990s and it has since been implemented as an indicator for sustainability. It represents the demands made on the ecosystem and natural resources. (…) It indicates how many hectares of forest, pasture, farmland and marine land are needed to renew the resources consumed and absorb the waste products produced. It enables us to compare the effects of our current consumption with the earth's available resources. (…) The ecological footprint can be calculated at all levels, be it for selected activities, individuals, companies, communities, cities or countries. Unlike the CO₂ footprint, the ecological footprint considers other environmental influences in addition to CO₂ emissions.”
Calculation of the own ecological footprint: https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/
“(…) Environmental sustainability means that we are living within the means of our natural resources. To live in true environmental sustainability, we need to ensure that we are consuming our natural resources, such as materials, energy fuels, land, water…etc, at a sustainable rate. Some resources are more abundant than others and therefore we need to consider material scarcity, the damage to environment from extraction of these materials and if the resource can be kept within Circular Economy principles. We need to aspire to net zero carbon and then move beyond to ultimately achieve climate positive principles. Environmental sustainability should not be confused with full sustainability, which also need to balance economic and social factors. (…)”
Transl: "Event management: Conservation and protection of natural resources for future generations before, during and after the event, e.g. through environmentally friendly procurement of products and services".
Sources: https://circularecology.com/sustainability-and-sustainable-development.html; Oblasser/Riediger (2015), Nachhaltiges Veranstaltungsmanagement mit Strategie, p. 33
(…) Economic sustainability means that decisions are made in the most equitable and fiscally sound way possible while considering the other aspects of sustainability. In most cases, projects and decisions must be made with the long-term benefits in mind (rather than just the short term benefits). Keep in mind that when only the economic aspects of something are considered, it may not necessarily promote true sustainability.
For many people in the business world, economic sustainability or growth is their main focal point. On the large scale (globally or even locally), this narrow-minded approach to management of a business can ultimately lead to unsatisfactory results. However, when good business practices are combined with the social and environmental aspects of sustainability, you can still have a positive result that is for the greater good of humanity. (…)”
Transl: “Event management: Successful execution of an event, e.g. generating profit; improving image.”
Sources: https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/The-Environmental-Economic-and-Social-Components-of-Sustainability; Oblasser/Riediger (2015), Nachhaltiges Veranstaltungsmanagement mit Strategie, p. 33
“(…) Social sustainability is a process for creating sustainable successful places that promote wellbeing, by understanding what people need from the places they live and work. Social sustainability combines design of the physical realm with design of the social world – infrastructure to support social and cultural life, social amenities, systems for citizen engagement, and space for people and places to evolve.
(…) In corporations, social sustainability performance issues include human rights, fair labor practices, living conditions, health, safety, wellness, diversity, equity, work-life balance, empowerment, community engagement, philanthropy, volunteerism, and more. Though social impact, or social sustainability, issues are not easily quantifiable or measurable, they are easier to identify. (…) According to the UN Global Compact, social sustainability should be a critical part of any business because it affects the quality of a business’ relationships with stakeholders. Social sustainability is a proactive way of managing and identifying business impacts on employees, workers in the value chain, customers, and local communities. (…)”
Transl: "Event management: Creating added value that serves the community; involving the regional population in the organisation of events; fair and ethical conduct; compliance as a social aspect".
Sustainable Development Goals
"As part of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, the United Nations agreed on the goals for sustainable development in 2015. The 17 goals with their 169 targets each address a global challenge. For the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), concrete and, as far as possible, verifiable target values have been defined which are to be achieved between 2016 and 2030. (...) They are to be achieved by all countries of the world, not only by developing countries. The adopted goals not only place a clearer emphasis on sustainability issues, but also reflect a broader understanding of development. (…)“
The 17 goals:
1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2: Achieve food security worldwide
3: Ensure health and well-being
4: High-quality education worldwide
5: Equality between women and men
6: Sufficient water of best quality
7: Affordable and clean energy
8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth as an opportunity for all
9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13: Implementing climate protection worldwide
14: Conserve life below water
15: Protect life on land
16: Promote strong and transparent institutions
17: Global partnership
"Organisations ... regularly prepare an environmental statement for the public. This describes the company with its activities, products, services and, if applicable, its locations. The company's own environmental policy, the main environmental effects and the environmental programme with the concrete goals for the improvement of the company's environmental protection are presented and data on the environmental performance, if possible summarised in figures with a corresponding evaluation. (…)
Each environmental statement must be verified by an independent, state-certified environmental verifier. (...) The environmental statement is available to the public in printed or electronic form. (...) The environmental statement may also provide interesting information to financiers, customers or other interested parties. Companies should also consider what information from the environmental statement could be included in the annual or management report. (…)“
Source: Umweltgutachterausschuss (UGA) (2018) / http://www.emas.de/teilnahme/umwelterklaerungen/
Environmental Management System
Environmental management is the part of the management of an organisation (industry, trade, service providers, public authorities, etc.) that deals with environmental protection, i.e. with the activities, products and services that have an impact on the environment. (...) An environmental management system (EMS) (in German: UMS - Umweltmanagementsystem) defines the structural and procedural organisation. This includes regulations on planning, execution and control as well as the definition of responsibilities and the behaviour and procedures. Targets are agreed and the appropriate measures are taken. (...) The best-known systems are the EMAS regulation and the environmental management standard ISO 14001, which provide the framework for the environmental management system. (…)“
Source: Umweltgutachterausschuss (UGA) (2018) / http://www.emas.de/ueber-emas/umweltmanagement/
“A movement called “Zero Waste” has emerged: its goal is to stop the tide of waste at its source. This means that products, packaging and materials are produced, consumed and recycled in a responsible manner. No waste is incinerated. Toxic materials do not end up in the ground, in the water or the air.”
Do you have further questions about sustainable events and green meetings? Then give us a call or send us an e-mail. We will be happy to help you and give you tips on how you can make your event sustainable and where you can find further information on this topic.
We look forward to the exchange with you!