May 21-28, 2007

2006 World Urban Forum organizers, venue share honour of Gold Green Meetings Award

The third session of the World Urban Forum (WUF3), held in Vancouver in June 2006, was named winner of the Gold level Green Meetings Award at the recent IMEX 2007 exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany. The annual event is one of the largest for the worldwide meetings and conventions industry.

Organized by the Globe Foundation of Canada and held at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre (VCEC), WUF3 was a "green-mandated" conference hosted by UN-Habitat and the federal government. The six-day conference drew 10,000 participants, nearly twice the 6,000 originally expected.

"Our team at GLOBE worked hard to create a greening program that successfully integrated event operations with marketing and communications," said Globe Foundation president and CEO John Wiebe. "While actively engaging suppliers and delegates to reduce the environmental impact of daily activities, we set out to make the conference carbon-neutral and focused on waste minimization, pollution reduction and energy conservation," he added.

Some of the environmental management strategies in place included prominent placement of recycling containers to ensure recycling of paper, cardboard, plastics, cans/bottles, etc.; energy efficient lighting; scheduling HVAC around event times; composting organic matter/food waste; utilizing fairly-traded coffee complete with locally-produced milk and cream and organic sugar; extensive use of non-disposable crockery and biodegradable cups; and foods served in bulk rather than individually packaged. The VCEC also brought in 15,000 bottles of "Earth Water" made by a company that donates 100% of its profits to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Each candidate event was reviewed against the conference venue and the conference itself, including catering and trade show practices. The judging panel concluded that the VCEC, as WUF3's chosen venue, offered an exemplary set of green features including seawater cooling systems and a detailed energy efficiency program. Other benefits such as low-flow toilets, a recycling program for organic waste, use of reuseable glassware and utensils and the use of green certified housekeeping and cleaning products all met with the organizers' stringent requirements.

Shawna McKinley, executive director of the Green Meetings Industry Council, said WUF3 was chosen the Gold award winner because it "had its own holistic plan which engaged all participants and exceeded the baseline for sustainable practice. The application was so strong that it certainly lived up to-and arguably has now set-a new gold standard for environmentally responsible meetings."

In addition to its Gold award, WUF3 also earned a Four Star MeetGreen Certification for excellence in green meeting practices.

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