Convening EMEA, which brought attendees from 29 countries together from Oct. 17-19 in Lausanne, Switzerland, started and ended on a sustainable note. The Swiss Convention & Incentive Bureau gave participants a first-class travel pass to the event, held at SwissTech Convention Center (STCC), to encourage the use of public transport from and to the airport, as well as to all the event venues.
STCC is on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and attendees were surrounded — literally — by pioneering energy technology. The west façade of the STCC is covered by photovoltaic cells, a more flexible alternative to solar panels — the first such large-scale use of the cells in the world. The desire to minimize waste prompted other measures, said Olivia Galun, senior events and community manager for PCMA EMEA, who led the planning of Convening EMEA.
- Eliminating paper handouts. The agenda and other information were included in an event app from Swapcard, used by 91 percent of the 283 in-person and 69digital-only participants.
- Reusable, handmade signage was created from recycled wood.
- Single-use plastics — including cutlery, bottles, and cups — were banned at the venue and at social events.
- Food and centerpieces were locally sourced, and all useable leftover food was donated to area community service groups.
- Name badges were made with recycled paper and non-toxic lamination that all can be recycled.
- Potted trees, used throughout the venue, were replanted outdoors.
A Breath of Fresh Air
The SwissTech Convention Center is filled with natural light, and organizers added strategically placed trees in planters, combined with an eclectic mix of furnishings, to create an open, outdoorsy feeling in the space, and to maximize choice in where and how participants gathered.
“We were very conscious that many people had not been in a face-to-face environment for nearly two years,” Jaime Bennett, PCMA’s regional director for EMEA, told Convene, “so we wanted to create a variety of areas where they could feel comfortable and inspired.”