KATHMANDU: Conferences, meetings and workshops are part of many people’s work routine. Those who are aware of the impact of the travel, transportation, accommodation and catering might be wondering about how to avoid, reduce negative impact and make these events more sustainable.
Here are some tips on how to do this and in some cases even reduce expenses. This guide can be useful for anyone planning or running events and particularly for inter-national organisations and those who want to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability through
the events they host.
The first question to ask would obviously be: does it really need to be a face-to-face event or can a video conference be organised? If it needs to be a face-to-face event, low-carbon transport options like electric buses can add a special touch to your event.
The choice of venue will be another crucial factor. Your purchasing power can contribute to supporting responsible hotels or other venues and it can encourage others to improve their facilities and services. While exploring options, you can request information regarding the following aspects and select the venue based on the responses and other criteria.
Does the hotel manage-ment undertake measures regarding:
• energy efficiency and use of alternative energy
• waste reduction or management or recycling or biogas
• avoiding single-use crockery and plastic bottles
• water saving appliances, water harvesting or treatment
• bio-degradable cleaning products
• local sourcing of goods or use of fair trade products
• use of local building materials
• organic or healthy or vegetarian food
• health, hygiene and sanitation trainings
• adherence to labour laws, ILO standards and other provisions regarding employee welfare, equal opportunity employment, et cetera
• support to community development, education, local infrastructure
• promotion of local art, culture, heritage
• information for tourists on how to improve their
social or environmental impact
• eco certifications like Green Globe International, Green Key Global, Green Leaf, Green Seal, et cetera
• other measures towards sustainable and responsible operationsFor smaller events which last a few hours or one day only, organisers can
look beyond mainstream venues and use facilities of local NGOs which sometimes rent out facilities to create revenues for their social activities. By using their facilities, you can demonstrate your commitment to a social cause and sometimes even save
money. Similarly, lunches or dinners can be held at restaurants which are run by so-called marginalised communities which enable those groups to earn a living. In Kathmandu, groups of trafficked women or HIV/ AIDS infected people have started such ventures and other restaurants employ former street children, victims of domestic abuse or hearing impaired people. Some of them also provide catering or lunch-box services for offices.
Choosing those venues and communicating about your efforts to make a difference with your choices can have an affect beyond just your own event. It will create awareness about environmental and social issues and might inspire others to follow your example. Apart from that,
it will most likely increase the credibility and reputation of your organisation and demonstrate your innovativeness and values.
(The author is a CSR
expert at National
Business Initiative and
can be reached through email@example.com)