Sustainability and Meetings & Events: Doing well by doing good!
Did you know that Ireland in general, and Dublin in particular, are amongst the most reputable destinations in Europe, and indeed the world, for their sustainability credentials when it comes to meetings and events?
Global Destination Sustainability Index
On the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDSI), the global benchmark for green destinations, Ireland has 3 destinations in the Top 20 (Dublin, Galway and Kerry) placing the country in joint 2nd place with Denmark. Another Scandinavia country, Sweden, holds the number one spot with 4 of its cities included.
As a destination, efforts around sustainability in meetings and events were fragmented until Head of Dublin Convention Bureau, Sam Johnson, became convinced that Dublin as a destination could “do well by doing good”.
Sam’s “road to Damascus” happened at a meetings industry conference. Challenged by CSR guru, Guy Bigwood, to identify what kept him awake at night, Sam realised it was his two young boys and their genuine concern for the impact on ocean life of single use plastic.
This, along with the simple fact that strong sustainability credentials add significantly to a destination’s value proposition, convinced Sam to build out a destination marketing strategy with sustainability at its core.
Ireland’s regional convention bureaux were early converts thanks to Sam and his team, and suddenly, there was a small but determined community of believers. This led to the organisation of the Business Tourism Sustainability Workshop in January this year which Croke Park was delighted to host and contribute to.
Sustainability at a meetings & events venue
But sustainability is no new kid on the block for Croke Park Meetings & Events. Shauna Conroy, Business Development Executive, explains:
“Sustainability has been at the heart of how this stadium operates ever since Cúl Green, a collaboration between Croke Park and Electric Ireland that began way back in 2007. Our experience with Cúl Green led us to look at utility, water and waste management, and, since 2010, we’ve had a cross disciplined team, the environmental & sustainability management (ESMG) group, working on accreditation, making us the first stadium in Ireland and Great Britain to achieve ISO14001and ISO 20121.
“Since 2014 we’ve delivered 0% of the stadium’s waste to landfill and last year we became the only stadium in the world to achieve ISO 14001:2015, the newest international environmental standard.
“I represent Meetings & Events on the Green Team here. We’re a group of volunteers who work in Croke Park across many areas and disciplines. We are all personally committed to the ideals of sustainability and act as an idea generation unit within the stadium, focused on the widest possible interpretation of sustainability - economic, environmental and social – and feeding back insights to the ESMG.
"Here sustainability is a way of life that extends across all areas of operation from match day activities to large capacity concerts to meetings and events."
What makes sustainability here different from other venues where I’ve worked is the fact that at Croke Park sustainability is ingrained into the culture
. Many companies, associations and organisations take a siloed approach to sustainability making it a stand-alone category or department that then battles with other departments for budget, resources, share of voice.
Here sustainability is a way of life that extends across all areas of operation from match day activities to large capacity concerts to meetings and events. My colleague Míde Ní Shuilleabhain heads up our sustainability team and I see myself as something of an “eco-warrior” for Meetings & Events. This means ensuring our team is in tune with current best practice in venue sustainability so we can guarantee our clients that they are choosing and working with a certified trail blazer in this area.
Venue Sustainability Credentials
“To retain our credentials, we are audited annually and we’re working through an audit right now. This is usually done on site and includes a second live audit during an event but given the current situation, the audit will proceed across all areas of our sustainability programme including waste, energy, biodiversity, communications, community and legislative compliance with all work being done remotely by SGS in consultation with our sustainability team.
“We’re hugely proud to be a large capacity venue within a city destination that ranks so highly in the world as a sustainable destination. In fact this has also been a direct source of business for us recently when an eco-tourism conference specifically selected Dublin and Croke Park because of our collective sustainability commitment. A great example of “doing well by doing good!”