Insights from IAPCO 2024: The Journey to Sustainable Event Management

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As the Green Team Project Manager for IAPCO2024, I’m thrilled to share our insights from the 54th IAPCO Annual Meeting and General Assembly, which zeroed in on sustainability and mitigating the negative environmental impacts of gatherings.

The goal in mind

As the event’s official PCO, Cankarjev dom was committed to orchestrating the meeting in the most eco-conscious way possible, while ensuring attendees had a top-notch experience. We were adamant about not compromising on leveraging modern technology for knowledge exchange and messaging. Drawing on our 44 years of experience as professional congress organizers, we embarked on the implementation phase.

Despite meticulous planning, we were eager to evaluate how effectively we integrated sustainability principles into the execution. Thus, we sought a suitable tool to gauge the environmental and societal impacts of IAPCO 2024.

Opting for an evaluation using the Planet Positive Events methodology, we were pleased to test this effective tool, which combines ESRS Standards and Carbon Footprint Measurement, providing invaluable insights and recommendations for sustainable event organization.

We approached each step with the caution of a novice, transitioning from theory and guidance provided by the Planet Positive Events team to practical application.


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IAPCO 2024

Key learnings and practical tips from using the PPE tool


Rushing isn’t worthwhile; it’s crucial to proceed systematically, so start your preparations early.

Through this experience, I can attest that this transition is pivotal, and I’m excited to share practical tips that can save you precious time:

  1. Prior to the event, in the initial phase, draft a strategic document (Green Pledge) for the event, clearly outlining your objectives. Then, select partners who commit to adhering to sustainability principles and the strategic document, and providing all necessary (particularly measurable) data for carbon footprint measurement. Further meetings may be necessary to elaborate on data collection methodology and set deadlines for data submission. Understanding that events are organized within existing infrastructures, which may not necessarily be equipped with meters at every venue, having technically proficient staff on hand is beneficial.

  2. Once the initial phase is completed, the actual execution of the event begins, where we meticulously pursue and implement our set goals, even in exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. It’s crucial not to lose sight of sustainability, as a good end result requires unwavering commitment. If you’re using a custom app for event information and communication, you can also utilize it for data collection, such as mobility or dietary requirements for catering, if not collected during attendee registration.

  3. The assessment phase follows in the third step, where event organizers use the Planet Positive Event platform to conduct a straightforward self-assessment of their event’s sustainability. This assessment encompasses various sustainability criteria, including carbon footprint. After the self-assessment, an external assessor reviews the data provided by the organizer. The assessor either verifies the data or seeks additional details. Once the assessment is finalized, the platform computes the event’s sustainability rating, aligning with ESRS standards and other industry-relevant criteria.

  4. Finally, the process concludes with event organizers receiving a comprehensive report and a certificate based on the assessment results, including valuable recommendations for future enhancements.

While it may seem demanding and time-consuming, it’s well worth the effort. Our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re thrilled to have concrete, quantitative data in the form of a written report. We’ve shared our findings with the IAPCO association, and I firmly believe that every subsequent IAPCO gathering, starting from the event in Ljubljana, will see improvements. Organizers now possess a potent tool to craft events that are more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and economically sustainable. Remember, participating in sustainable events contributes to a greener future for our planet!

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Author: Maja Vidergar, Cankarjev Dom