Meeting planners around the world are increasingly citing sustainability as a prerequisite for green meetings, and Germany is leading the way to make green meetings a reality. In recent months, Germany and its leading in-country MICE partners have introduced revolutionary concepts in green meetings, including a global sustainability codex, green meeting planner certification programs, ready-made and tailored green meeting packages and more.
This year's Meeting & Event Barometer, the only survey that covers the entire event market in Germany, reinforces the importance of green meetings as “table stakes” in the meeting planning process. Sponsored by the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), and implemented by the European Institute for the Meetings Industry, the barometer indicates that more than 86 percent of event planners surveyed are convinced that the importance of “green meetings” will remain the same or even increase in the next few years. In fact, respondents attributed roughly the same importance to all three pillars of sustainability - economic (40 percent), environmental (41.8 percent) and social responsibility (52.7 percent) - over other factors.
Sustainability Codex Is Quickly Gathering Steam
The German Convention Bureau shares this commitment to sustainability and has initiated various projects to help the German meetings industry become more sustainable and green. One of these projects is the green meetings and events conference, which will be held for the second time in 2013 at the green congress center darmstadtium in Darmstadt, close to Frankfurt. The key outcome from the inaugural conference was a joint industry-specific sustainability codex. This codex for the German-speaking event sector is based on the UN Global Compact, designed to make globalization more socially and ecologically sustainable. Supporting member organizations agree to maintain minimum standards, self-regulate and exchange ideas. There are 10 guiding corporate responsibility principles in the German sustainability codex, designed to position the meetings industry competitively on a global scale. These principles range from strategic action and resource utilization to human rights and transparency.
Since the codex’s introduction in September, more than 51 businesses and organizations have signed on and reaffirmed their commitment to sustainability, including all 25 Starwood Hotels in Germany. The Westin Grand Hotel in Frankfurt, for example, has programs underway that focus on energy and water conversation, waste minimization and environmentally responsible purchasing, and enhanced indoor environmental quality.
Others participating partners include the green congress center darmstadtium, Four Points by Sheraton, MCI Germany, Le Meridien Hotels and more. For more information and a complete list of supporting partners, please visit http://www.fairpflichtet.de/en/.
Certified Green Meeting Planners Are on the Rise
The GCB has also launched a first of its kind multi-city green meetings seminar program that will ultimately train and certify up to 500 green meeting consultants working in the German MICE industry. With initial certification trainings completed over the summer, additional trainings will span several years, educating planners from major hotels, leading venues and key convention centers, who will then bring their learnings back not only to their co-workers and management teams but also to their clients hosting meetings in the country.
A good example is Maritim Hotels, one of Germany's leading hotel chains. Through GCB‘s green certification program, Maritim has trained all of its German hotel staff as sustainability advisors, and has launched an internal pro-environment and sustainability initiative that is proving very successful. It also just introduced a special Maritim Green Meeting Conference Package that covers room rentals, technical equipment and catering.