The 2019 IACC Europe Knowledge Festival, which took place at Dolce La Hulpe, Brussels on 4-6 October, was the very first event to attain the Event Industry Council’s brand-new Sustainable Event Standard. The conference put sustainability centre-stage as its attendees embraced the urgency and opportunity to be leaders in sustainable approaches to venue facilities and services.

Some of the initiatives IACC put in place for this event, which contributed to attaining the Sustainable Event Standard, included: healthy food options such as a vegan lunch; water stations, with compostable and recyclable cups or refillable glass bottles, provided by IACC to all delegates; all signage, badges and other information printed on sustainable materials such as recyclable card with no plastic, or available electronically and, for the pre-conference study tour, all delegates travelled by train or electric/hybrid cars.

The educational conference was attended by over 120 delegates from IACC certified conference and meeting venues from counties throughout Europe (UK, Sweden, France, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands), America and Australia that represent the top 1% of small to mid-size venues.

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC said: “We had a strong indication that our members wanted to learn and share ideas in relation to sustainable venue best practice and the feedback during the event validated that. Our members realise that venues play a vital part in areas such as responsible procurement, eradication of single use plastics and food waste management. The keynote speaker, climate activist Nic Balthazar, did not hold back in explaining where we stand today and the importance of the next ten years in changing the way we consume and how we run our businesses.”

Lotta Boman, IACC Europe President commented; “It has been fantastic hearing first-hand the positive feedback received from our members and their commitment to sharing best practice in the months to come, through an online repository of advice on sustainable event management. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event, in Dusseldorf, where we’ll continue to deliver positive action in this area with a packed schedule of learning, networking and top educational opportunities to help effect change.”

Festival attendee, Flemming Jackobsen, Director at Vejlefjord hotel in Denmark brought his entire leadership team to the event and commented: “The IACC Knowledge Festival not only gave me, but also my entire management team, many new ideas to work on operating more sustainability. In Denmark, we are already ahead in general, but the conference dialogues gave us new ideas and our goals and work is underway to implement IACC Green Star certification to complement our national certification. Keynote Nic Balthazar’s image of the world was an eye-opener that embedded some thoughts and ideas in all of us.”

The event also staged ceremonies for the IACC Europe Future Leaders Award for those demonstrating innovative ideas and initiatives implemented in the workplace, presented to Sophia Montagna, HR Manager from Woodlands Event Centre in the UK. The IACC Europe Innovation Award for those proving innovation and creativity in the IACC community was presented to Land End Conference Centre in the UK for their sustainability program. IACC’s Global Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jeu Bressers, formally of the Kapellerput Hotel & Conference Centre in the Netherlands.

The IACC Europe Copper Skillet culinary competition winners were also revealed during the conference: Sofie Lidén from Sigtunahöjden, Sweden, was crowned Senior Winner for her pan-fried salmon dish prepared with roasted cauliflower, butter-baked endive and edamame beans. Victor Douton Martin from Dolce Sitges Barcelona was crowned Junior Winner for his salmon dish with a creamed fish sauce, pak choy, white asparagus and mixed green vegetables. The European stage of the competition is a qualifying round for the global stage, which will be taking place at the IACC Americas Connect 2020 event, at Allen, Watters Creek, Dallas, Texas on 30 March – 1 April.

The conference concluded with a Solutions Café plenary session, where attendees identified changes that they were willing to commit to in order to operate more sustainably. The pledges included the eradication of all plastic bottles that are not 100% recyclable, removal of single use coffee cups in guest rooms; creating a standard food labelling system which IACC members can adopt for their food stations and menus;  and creating an online repository of advice and case studies for members in all aspects of sustainable venue initiatives.

For the full event gallery, visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsmHx5xTQ