how_we_did_it

CASE STUDY #GREENCONVENTA

According to official data by the MeetGreen Association, an average event attendee creates 176,67 kilograms of carbon footprint per day. For instance, an event attended by 1,000 participants, lasting three days, amounts to 530 tonnes of carbon footprint, equivalent to 1,233 oil barrels. Transport is to blame for more than 70 per cent of the carbon footprint, as reported by the Association. You can read more at the following link: https://meetgreen.com/.

We are well aware of these facts when organising the Conventa tradeshow. Since its inception, Conventa has strived to change the behaviour of all regional event organisers. That is why, in 2009, when environmental topics were still obscure, we set the foundations of Conventa’s green concept. The concept was named Conventa 4R and was advocated throughout the years regardless of the changes in the market. We set a goal to complete activities that will result in a 70 per cent decrease of our event’s emissions by 2030. To achieve our goal, our approach was continuous, as we acknowledged that we depend on our environment and project partners.


After nearly fifteen years, environmental conditions have worsened to the point when there can be no excuses. Changes have become so swift that a radical turnover is needed. A change is, not least of all, needed because of the younger generations, who are much more aware of climate change. Decarbonisation must become the focal topic of event organisers, whilst organising events should become interchangeable. We are, above all, concerned about those event organisers who are indifferent towards the environment regardless of the main message the corona crisis has sent. Such carelessness was on display when Europe’s meetings industry lifted restrictions and restarted. Moreover, there have been cases of green scams. Needless to say, the public was quick to form its opinion.

Undoubtedly, it is crucial to understand the omnipresent socio-economic impacts of events that can, on their own, neutralise negative environmental effects. To illustrate, I should mention the return of employees in the industry after the corona crisis and the knowledge exchange taking place at events, resulting in new vaccines and the like. That brings us to the simple conclusion that the quality of events is far more valuable than the quantity. New indices that we should consider are the index of happiness, the human development index (HDI), and an array of various ecological indices.

Conventa 4R Rethink/Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
It all starts with long-term planning. After that, a transition is not that hard. In our case, we based our methodology on the 4R model i.e. Rethink/Reduce/Reuse/Recycle.

conventa_green
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

As organisers of Conventa, we focus on and address several areas to achieve the final goal of reducing our event’s CO2 footprint.

1. Inclusiveness and partnership: Conventa is only able to achieve set goals together with its partners. The project currently includes 18 partners. Together with them, we define the activities and indicators of success. The project’s network of partners is key to the overall success and sustainable management.

2. Think globally, act regionally: We focus on the region of New Europe, a positive factor from a sustainable aspect. Above all, we prioritise local expertise, providers and services. In practice, we strive to encourage the local economy, preserve our heritage and perpetually develop our region’s know-how.

3. 4R: From the preliminary plan to the execution, Conventa takes sustainable decisions, thus contributing to waste reduction. Conventa prioritises products with a high content of recycled materials whilst striving to reuse materials. The concept is explained extensively below.

All three segments help us promote sustainable concepts and empower the public based on arguments and hard facts. New partnerships are being strengthened and built every year. This year, we have been encouraging electric mobility and the establishment of quick charging stations for electric cars at the event.

conventa_green
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

Conventa’s practical measures
All practical actions focus on what is best for the environment and society. In the same breath, these measures do not cancel out the multiplicative effects of the event, which we have been measuring meticulously since its inception.

The restrictions listed below are based on the cornerstone of Conventa, 4R and the project “Čista zmaga”, prepared by Umanotera, the Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development, for sports events. The model has been specifically tailored to Conventa to help us self-evaluate our efforts of minimising harmful impacts on the environment. The grading criteria enable a general overview of success in various areas. With the help of the aforementioned criteria, we have developed our own system of constant improvement. An overview of the aspects and effects in the most important areas is given below.

1. Mobility and transport
The event takes place in accordance with the principles of sustainable mobility. We encourage all attendees to arrive at the event by train, bus or car with co-passengers. Concerning air connections, the most problematic part, we try to ensure flights with few or zero layovers. Furthermore, we advocate car sharing. A vital role is played by transfer management, where we have been cooperating with GoOpti for several years. We tend to avoid individual transfers. All of the above has had a positive impact on the environment while reducing the costs of organising.
Effects of the measure: The number of hosted buyers and exhibitors arriving at the event by sustainable transportation is growing substantially. This year, 30.10% of hosted buyers and 16.7% of exhibitors arrived sustainably (train, public transport, Go.Opti). Five years ago, the percentage was a mere 5 per cent.

2. Communication
Even before 2020, we had resolved to completely digitalise our communication. We are aware that even with digital communication, we leave a CO2 footprint; however, it is much smaller compared to the combination of printed and digital marketing and communication we used at the start of Conventa. We were among the first organisers to offer a mobile application for the event. Throughout the years, we have been striving to make our community aware of the necessity of sustainable transformation. Our mission was awarded at the IBTM tradeshow in 2010.
Effects of the measure: In 2021, Conventa became an 80% free-of-paper event. We are firm believers that our approach has had a positive impact on other event organisers and, more importantly, all event partners who have embraced this measure.

3. Ordering goods and services
When buying goods and services, we follow the simple logic of trusting our local suppliers. That goes for food, drinks and other service providers, including IT solutions. We are proud that Conventa is a showcase of local know-how and solutions in event organising. We avoid buying any plastic products, and when that is not possible, recycled products are our alternative.
Effects of the measure: When organising Conventa, we rely on the principle of double-checking whether we need a particular service before purchasing. Healthy and environment-friendly products are favoured, whilst gastronomy services go hand in hand with local and seasonal cuisine. Experience has shown that our approach actually reduces costs.

4. Venues where Conventa takes place
When choosing event venues, we place special attention on the distance between individual venues. A huge advantage of Ljubljana is that factually all locations are within walking or cycling distance. Therefore, public transport is a great solution. In the future, venues have a long way to go regarding effective energy usage, as they are predominantly energy unoptimised and wasteful buildings.
Effects of the measure: The selected venues significantly shortened the attendees’ travelling and enabled easy mobility due to public transport. In recent years Conventa has implemented a simple measure named Park&Ride at Ljubljana Exhibition and Congress Centre that became an instant hit.

conventa_hybrid
Photo: Marko Delbello Ocepek

5. Food and drinks
Conventa’s partners are the best Slovenian catering providers, who swear by promoting healthy food and encourage transparent and rightful partnership with suppliers. We are immensely proud of our 13-year cooperation with them. Local, seasonal and healthy has become the silver lining of Conventa. We have never differentiated between exhibitors and hosted buyers when it comes to culinary services. Moreover, we have always ordered food in adequate amounts.
Effects of the measure: We are especially proud of our local-inspired cuisine. In the future, though, we have a way to go with respect to waste food and drink management. In the coming years, we plan on ensuring that any leftover food goes to volunteers, humanitarian organisations or shelters.

6. Waste
Following the event, we identified waste and defined the measures to reduce it. Above all, we are pleased that we recycled exhibitors’ badges and other direct waste. That would not be possible without the continued support of the Ljubljana Exhibition and Congress Centre that has developed its own policy and control of waste management. An integral part of the measure are instructions regarding sorting, also a crucial part of the project’s communication aspect.
Effects of the measure: In our opinion, we have upped the ante on waste reduction culture. The latter was achieved by extensive communication ahead of, during and following the event. In 2022, we plan on implementing additional measures focused on changing and measuring the amount of waste.

7. Social responsibility
All key stakeholders are constantly informed and included in sustainable activities. One of our most renowned projects is the Conventa Future Leaders Forum. For the past decade, we have been, in cooperation with IMEX, encouraging young talents to step through the door of the meetings industry. Likewise, countless volunteers cooperating at Conventa get an insight into the key industry’s stakeholders. They are given opportunities to find a job in our industry.
Effects of the measure: Numerous young talents have continued their professional path in the meetings industry. We ourselves have employed two colleagues who decided to venture into the waters of the meetings industry after attending the Conventa Future Leaders Forum.

conventa_green
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

When it comes to energy and water supply, we can influence our providers indirectly, considering that we rely on venues, catering providers and suppliers. We see our role primarily in spreading awareness, as we cannot measure energy consumption without the cooperation of our partners. For 2022, we will set clear goals regarding expected energy efficiency. All partners will be encouraged to use energy from renewable sources.

Perhaps the most recognisable sustainable element of Conventa are the famous wooden boxes that make up Conventa’s stands. They are made from Slovenian wood and have been recycled since their inception. The flooring, used only once in many events, has been sustainably used for several years in a row at Conventa. The concept has, in a way, become a trademark of Conventa.

conventa_green
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

We are sincere believers that our activities contribute to reducing greenhouse gasses. At the same time, they help us reduce costs of organisation and continuously raise our project’s reputation. Nevertheless, we have a long way to go. Out of 243 criteria points that we set to achieve this year, we completed 128 criteria points or 52,7 per cent. Thus, much work is needed in the future to achieve our goals. Yet, we are ready for a radicalisation of environmental approaches that will compensate for the effects on the environment based on measured CO2 footprint.

Together with the project, our quality is perennially improving, and this is what our partners appreciate. They have stayed loyal to us in the hardest of times.

This article was brought to you by:
Gorazd Čad
Toleranca Marketing
Live & Digital Events and Marketing Agency
W: www.toleranca.eu

For more information, please contact Natalija at natalija@toleranca.eu.