The Slovenia Times

Keeping it Green



What are the current trends in Green Meetings industry?
Sustainability has proven to become one of greater trends in today's meeting industry. In recent times, the focus has been on developing tools (event measurement tools, sustainable event guidelines etc) and international and national standards to ease the transition to sustainable event management. Further emphasis has been placed on professional education and research, in particular through professional associations such as the Green Meeting Industry Council. As a consequence of increased interest in the sustainable meeting industry, more attention has been placed on highlighting the gap between strategic sustainable event management and greenwashing.
How important is it to be environmentally aware in current times for business meetings industry?
Sustainability has been an important topic of discussion and, increasingly, action in the recent years. Studies show that meeting industry suppliers, i.e. the supply side, lead the road to sustainable meeting industry. Fierce competition among meeting destinations and individual providers encourages the development of sustainable management in the meeting industry. The demand side or meeting planners are following the lead, which can be claimed is more a consequence of market development than actual increase of demand for sustainable services.

Do clients nowadays pay more attention to the sustainable event management?
In line with the rapid inclusion of buzz words "green, sustainable, eco" in the meeting industry vocabulary, the meeting planners are attentive to and appreciate sustainable measures. For instance, at the leading regional meeting industry trade show Conventa meeting planners noted the implemented green measures. J.H. Weil of The Federation of European Biochemical Societies thus commented: "The exhibit was very well organized, with a green, durable touch." The question remains in which instances meeting planners only appreciate, perhaps inquire about sustainable credentials and in which they are willing to pay a higher price for implementing sustainable measures..

How do Slovenian businesses conferences fare against others in the region in terms of Green Meetings industry?
In line with the green orientation of the Slovenian Tourism Board, in 2010 the Slovenian meeting community launched "Push up Slovenia 3.0" campaign focused on developing and promoting "Slovenia Green Meetings" brand. Push up Slovenia 3.0 campaign aims to promote Slovenia as an honesty green and authentic destination, where its meeting suppliers are increasingly focusing on implementing sustainable business practices and developing innovative sustainable services. The campaign has thus given a strong incentive and a number of tools ( comprehensive webpage, Slovenia Green Meetings catalogue, upcoming Event Carbon Calculator) and guidelines (e.g. Road to Green Meetings in Slovenia manual) to greening the meeting industry in Slovenia.
In comparison to other destinations in the region of South East Europe, respective meeting providers are joining the green wave at a similar pace. Slovenia is however making a stand with its socially responsible campaign "BeBee" and hosting the "IMEX 2012 Challenge". Both projects focus on bees that symbolise the diversity of natural resources and unspoiled nature in Slovenia as well as symbolize the Slovenian vision of preserving nature.

Around 30 countries support the introduction of the new ISO standard 20121 for sustainable event management that is to be completed by the time the 2012 Olympic Games kick off in London. Does Slovenia support it and how long will it take for it to comply with the new standards?
Slovenia welcomes the adoption of ISO 20121 sustainable event management standard, based on the the British standard BS8901. As other already existing sustainable event standards, including BS8901, APEX Green Meeting standards, Global Reporting Initiative Event Supplement, we expect the ISO standard to represent a further step in incorporating sustainability in the meeting industry as well as prove the power and value of the meeting industry.
The above named standards relate to sustainable event management, thus meeting planners can earn these standards for planning a respective event in a sustainable manner. There are further green certifications earmarked for various meeting providers, including Green Globe, EU Flower and ISO 14001. While individual meeting professionals can acquire these green certifications, it is the role of the Slovenian Convention Bureau to promote these professionals, educate them further and consider the possibility of establishing a national scheme for sustainable event management (as in the case of Austria or Germany).


About the BeBee campaign

The Slovenian meeting community has assumed responsibility for the negative environmental impacts generated by the meeting industry and taken action. The Slovenian Convention Bureau started to run the "BeBee campaign" as one of the projects to take practical steps towards a greener future.
The BeBee campaign focuses on protecting bees that symbolise the diversity of natural resources and unspoiled nature in Slovenia. Bees reveal the level of environmental protection and symbolize the Slovenian vision of preserving nature. Furthermore, bees relate to the Slovenian uniqueness seeing that Slovenia is the only European country that has protected its indigenous species, the Carniolan bee.
The BeBee campaign therefore aims to increase the number of bee colonies, slowing down the negative trend reflected in the loss of bee colonies. In cooperation with the Beekeeping Association of Slovenia, the BeBee campaign enabled the Beekeepers Club of Dobrna to set up a school beehouse to learn bee breeding. Based on practical presentations and active participation, the pupils can learn how to think and behave in the company of their winged friends. 26 children will learn about beekeeping and therefore become aware of the importance of natural and cultural heritage.
The Slovenian meeting community invites meeting professionals, eager to make a positive impact on society and environment, to join the BeBee campaign. By signing the BeBee petition, meeting professionals can support the aspirations of the Slovenian meeting community in preserving the green character of Slovenia.


About the IMEX 2012 Challenge

Slovenia with its capital Ljubljana will host a CSR project the IMEX Challenge in summer 2012. Three official partners - the Slovenian Convention Bureau, Ljubljana Tourism / Convention Bureau and Go.Mice Congress & Marketing Agency, sided by the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association and Draga Centre, have created a meaningful project that will continue long after June 2012. The idea is to build beehives within the grounds of an institute for mentally and physically disabled children and adults. It is anticipated that they will be involved in the bees' upkeep as well as potentially create revenue from harvesting and selling honey. By pure coincidence, two of the school's staff are registered beekeepers and are keen to assist in the future, too.


*With answers we also received help from MaruĊĦa Rosulnik who is an early stage researcher in Go.Mice Marketing and Congress Agency assistant at Anton Melik Geographical Institute, Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts


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