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
What we would like to see are the event that combine online
and on the ground strategies.
What are the red flags of an eco- or people-unfriendly
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.
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
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:
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.
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
When practical, use small hotels and local B&Bs. If the facility
has environmental conservation programs, point out the details
Use less paper and offer online registration.
Lighting and energy efficient measures should be incorporated
wherever feasible. Conference centers that maximize energy efficiency
should communicate the details to their guests.
Feature local culture and entertainment.
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
Far too much paper is wasted at events. The good news -- more
conferences are going paperless!
Recycle and explain the process to conference participants.
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.
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.
For those concerned about the environmental impact of international
transportation, review the pros and cons of Carbon
Use shuttle services to and from the event.
Serve water from pitchers. If using plastic, make sure there
is a receptacle for recycling
and a means to refill the bottles.