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EXPLORING ECOTOURISM

Green Events
by Ron Mader

EVENTS WIKI

As the garden grows so does the gardener.
- Garden Notebook

How is your conference green?

FLICKR ALBUM: Events


Events offer opportunities to network, learn and make new friends and catch up with long-time acquaintances.

They can also provide insights on serious topics. Conducted online they offer an inexpensive means of information sharing. Conducted in the natural world they offer the distinct advantage of face-to-face communication.

What we would like to see are the event that combine online and on the ground strategies.

RED FLAGS

What are the red flags of an eco- or people-unfriendly event?

Water is served in individual plastic bottles.

Recycling is not evident.

Locals are treated poorly or even excluded from the meetings.

The event is announced online, but there is no follow-up. Presentations, videos and summaries are not shared.

Name badge holders are not reused.

Sadly, such events are common. An academic ecotourism conference housed speakers at a chain hotel and served meals in cardboard boxes. A friend complains that an organic trade expocreated mountains of trash.

WISHLIST

On top of our wishlist are events that are truly engaging. Interactive events are more engaging than a series of monologues or speakers reading at their audience. One solution would be the unconference approach.

Maturing from innovative methodologies including Open Space Technology, unconference events abandon the traditional agenda and ask participants to self-organize a schedule, goals, and get to work. Participating in events where a variety of opinions matter matters more than ever as we learn to collaborate with one another.

Here are our recommendations in creating effective, green events collected from good practices around the globe:

COMMUNITY RELATIONS
How well locals are included -- from preparation to post event continuity -- should be used in evaluating the success of the event. When locals are treated with respect, everyone wins.

PARALLEL CONFERENCING
Please, no more closed door meetings that do not include an opportunity for a virtual dialogue among interested parties before, during and after the event. As proposed in the Wish List for Responsible, Sustainable Ecotourism, interested constituencies without the money or time to attend in person should have the opportunity to participate.

ACCOMMODATION
When practical, use small hotels and local B&Bs. If the facility has environmental conservation programs, point out the details to guests.

REGISTRATION
Use less paper and offer online registration.

ENERGY
Lighting and energy efficient measures should be incorporated wherever feasible. Conference centers that maximize energy efficiency should communicate the details to their guests.

CULTURE
Feature local culture and entertainment.

FOOD
Serve locally grown products and organic food when possible. Point out such items on a menu. Food can be served in a buffet style in which participants can choose what they do and do not wish to eat. Additionally, many conference centers and restaurants support community food drives. Eco kitchens also find ways to compost.

PAPER
Far too much paper is wasted at events. The good news -- more conferences are going paperless!

RECYCLING
Recycle and explain the process to conference participants.

INFORMATION
Like food, information is best served self-service. Otherwise, brochures end up in the garbage. If you are distributing a conference program or background reading, distribute two-sided copies.

TOURS
Schedule heritage walks direct from the conference venue. Local tours promote where the conference takes place and gives visitors a feeling for the neighborhood and a locals a chance to interact with conference participants.

INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORTATION
For those concerned about the environmental impact of international transportation, review the pros and cons of Carbon Emission Offsetting.

LOCAL TRANSPORTATION
Use shuttle services to and from the event.

WATER
Serve water from pitchers. If using plastic, make sure there is a receptacle for recycling and a means to refill the bottles.

 

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AUTHOR

Ron Mader is the responsible travel correspondent for Transitions Abroad and host of the award-winning Planeta.com website.



FEATURES

g Events Calendar
g Guide to Open Space Technology
g Events Evaluation Survey (2007)
g Green Events (2006)

WORKSHEETS

g Worksheet: Storytelling Now
g Worksheet: Contando Historias
g Worksheet: Erzähle deine Geschichte – Jetzt!

Marketing Indigenous Tourism

SLIDESHARE

g Responsible Travel Photography
g Storytelling Now
SLIDESHARE

FLICKR

g Green Events
g Oaxaca Tourism Fairs 2001-2013
g How is your conference green?
ONLINE FLICKR

WIKI

g Conferencing in the Virtual and Natural Worlds
g Green Drinks
g How is your conference green?
g Promoting your event on Planeta.com
g Toward Effective Communication in Responsible Travel and Ecotourism
ONLINE WIKI

ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB

b Eco-friendly events can leave unfriendly footprints - G. Jeffrey MacDonald/USA Today
b When the festival music's over - The Guardian


ABOUT THIS GUIDE

This Planeta guide is part of our professional 'How2' series featuring practical, multi-player tips on press trips, media releases and media kits. We also have suggestions on greening events and improving signage.


YOUTUBE



PLANETA CONFERENCES

g Evaluating the International Year of Ecotourism + 10 2012
g Tourism and Biodiversity 2010-2012
g Food, Health and Cultivating Communities 2008-2011
g Tourism and Climate Change 2008-2009
g Ecotourism Challenges Dialogue 2007
g City Environments 2004-2011
g Environmental Impact of Transportation 2003
g Sustainable Development of Ecotourism 2002
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INDEX

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