Gearhouse Group has announced the renaming of their Training facility to the Kentse Mpahlwa Gearhouse Training Academy with the aim of furthering the legacy left by late Gearhouse director and colleague, Kentse Mpahlwa.
Green is the only colour for business tourism
The second day of Meetings Africa began with a SAACI educational workshop on greening, facilitated by Scan On Show’s Justin Hawes, chair of The Event Greening Forum.
Valerie Green, director of the National Business Initiative’s Climate and Energy Unit, spoke about the business case for greening business tourism in the South African context.
She mentioned the importance of COP 17 taking place in Durban from 28 November-9 December 2011. “It’s a very important event for us. COP 17 is our new World Cup. We need to show these heads of state what we are capable of. These visitors won’t be confined to just Durban. They’ll be moving on to other destinations as well. We need to think about how we can utilise this opportunity in business tourism. The Cape Town International Convention Centre is a top 50 green business. Greening is the nub of our global economy. We need to drive our business towards a more greener world. Tourism must lead the movement.”
She explained that there are several drivers for change towards greener agendas. “Indabas such as the Energy Indaba are crucial and a perfect platform to practice what is being preached.”
Being a long haul destination, South Africa has to offer visitors something extra in order to attract business. “We have to offer an offset for people wishing to lower their carbon footprint. If you host people in your hotel, have energy efficient measures in place.”
This goes for local business as well. “Look at the JSE top 100 carbon disclosure respondents, who are actively measuring their carbon footprint levels, and amend your services to them accordingly. If you’re a car rental company, suggest energy saving vehicles; at conferences don’t provide bottled water; use energy efficient lighting, etc. Offer them a green option as part of your proposal.”
She says the ultimate goal for green events is for delegates to have learned something about climate change and to feel that it was an amazing experience.
The next speaker was Joyce Dimascio, a greening consultant and former head of Business Events Australia. She spoke about Australia’s CSR program for the business events sector.
“Australia has come a long way, and we have made some positive strides forward, managing the obstacles that effect South Africa now,” she says.
Dimascio explains that Australia faced a major challenge as being seen as a long haul destination at a time when this was seen as a negative because of climate change.
“Our goal was to change this perception and to place business events at centre stage. Our simple philosophy was to reduce consumption and to lead through example.”
It was important to deliver the message that community and environment mattered to Australia Tourism and to dismiss the notion of green washing.
“The business events environment had to change suddenly and we had to collect evidence of this change at the same time. For example, Melborne Convention Centre is a six star green accredited venue. Adelaide Convention Centre has a worm farm and was recognised by ICCA.”
The efforts were rewarded when Disacio’s unit was recognised at AIME 2009, where her stand won the best environmental stand award. “We also started noticing that editorial became our friend and media began showing an interest in writing about Australia’s responsible tourism efforts.”
Her advice for South African businesses is to enshrine CSR in policy and link it with thought management where business leaders encourage responsible business practice.
“Most importantly you need to grow a green community, recognising industry leaders and ambassadors and to embed greening in brand marketing.”
The third speaker was Greg McManus, managing director at the Heritage Environmental Management Company (HEMC). He delivered a case study on the greening of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a major annual South African sporting event which attracts approximately 20 000 people for four days.
McManus says that the aim of the greening program was to position The Nedbank Golf Challenge as the greenest sporting event in Africa, as well as the first carbon neutral event in Africa.
The challenges were immense. McManus and his team had to look at the administrative systems, energy use, transport systems, waste management, water use, wastewater management and build up. Additionally, all sponsors, suppliers and sponsors had to share Nedbank’s environmental vision.
The methods used by HEMC were both innovative and groundbreaking. They were able to transform the waste water from portable toilets into grey water to irrigate the greens; solar power was used for energy and heating; and even sponsors like Spur pledged their support to ensure that all food packaging was recyclable.
The result was that The Nedbank Golf Challenge became Africa’s first carbon neutral sporting event and only one of three golf events in the world to be certified carbon neutral.
“Wherever you go in the world, green meetings are the way forward,” says McManus.