The ESCRS sustainability commitment and vision
ESCRS and I are committed to improving the sustainability of all our activities as a society. Improving the footprint of our Milan Congress is a priority, and we are working with our partners to organise a socially and environmentally responsible congress.
Our vision is that by 2023, we will have a congress with zero waste to landfills, zero net carbon emissions and we will be a role model for social responsibility. This means we have to work collaboratively to support the wellness of our event participants, give back to local and global communities, regenerate ecosystems and inspire sustainability action from our event participants.
We invite you to join us in this journey.
Oliver Findl, ESCRS President
Our strategy: Mission Zero
First steps: We have contracted international sustainability experts – the Global Destination Sustainability Movement. Next, to guide us on our journey, we formed a sustainability team consisting of ESCRS members, MCI Geneva, the Global Destination Sustainability Movement, the MICO Venue and other key suppliers.
Together, we are collaborating to co-create a strategy and implement a bold operational action plan that we call “Mission Zero”.
Our key goals
- Partner with ASCRS and APACRS to promote eyesustain.org initiative
- Integrate a sustainability track into the congress programme
- Recruit at least two new organisations into the Sustainability Partnership programme
- Eliminate 90% of single use plastic, polystyrene and PVC
- Decrease waste sent to landfill to less than 20%, and increase recycling to +50%
- +70% of all signage and branding to be made from more sustainable materials
- 25% of delegates to arrive by climate friendly transport
- +50% of food served is vegetarian
- 70% of food locally sourced (less than 160km)
- 100% of unavoidable carbon emissions to be offset
- Increase balance of female speakers to 35%
- Integrate at least 1 community/charity partnerships in event
- Integrate wellness activities throughout congress
To hit our goals, we have defined the following design principles for the sustainable organisation of the congress:
- Eliminate waste, emissions and pollution
- Recycle materials and products
- Switch to more sustainable materials
- Regenerate natural systems (people and planet)
- Design for inclusiveness and diversity
- Use our sustainability efforts to improve participants’ event experience
To make a sustainable congress requires commitment and collective action from participants, exhibitors, sponsors, organisers and suppliers. Our approach is to engage, inspire and catalyse collective action to make a zero-impact event.
Measurement, offsetting and reporting approach
We will calculate the congress’ carbon and waste footprint using industry best practice methodologies as well as an advanced measurement tool called TRACE. The emissions from local event production, delegate and team travel, accommodation, food & beverages, venue and online participation will all be measured.
The unavoidable emissions will be compensated through carbon offset projects with ClimateCare. They are one of the global leaders in helping organisations to meet their ambitious climate goals. We will invest in 3 high quality certified projects that will provide impact in emission reductions and social development for developing economies.
We are conducting due diligence to selected projects that will:
- provide clean and safe cooking and water systems to isolated communities
- increase wellbeing and health by reducing smoke inhalation and air pollution
- provide renewable energy solutions that protect the local environment as well as offer affordable, clean and reliable energy access to communities
Finally, a sustainability report will be produced to identify the strategy, best practices and learnings from the Milan Congress. In addition, recommendations to improve performance in the Vienna Congress and other ESCRS events will also be created.
What’s your role?
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African Yoruba proverb
Sustainability only works if we are all involved and working together.
It’s on each of us to find ways to take action in our own sphere of control, whilst using our influence, as small as it may be, to encourage, or demand, those with power to do something about it.
We propose seven key actions where you can create a more sustainable congress experience:
1. Exhibit sustainably
We’re asking our partners and exhibitors to champion social and environmental responsibility at ESCRS. From ordering sustainable catering to offsetting your emissions, your commitment will help us to create a congress that supports both people and the planet. To support you, we have produced a free ‘sustainable exhibition guide’ and a consulting support package to help you bring your corporate and personal sustainability values to life.
2. Travel more sustainably
Let the train take the strain and don’t take a plane. Milano is well connected with excellent high-speed rail transport options. Look for options here.
When in Milano walk or cycle to reduce reliance on taxis. The UK Department of Health recommends ‘brisk walking’ for at least 10 minutes per day or ideally 10,000 good-paced steps (around 8km per day) for optimum health. Not only it is good for your health, but soft mobility also provides better value as it is free, less stressful and will allow you to better explore Milano. Milano has an excellent city-cycle scheme and public transport options.
3. Choose a sustainable hotel
When looking for your hotel, add the sustainability criteria to your search. Try and book a hotel that has a sustainable certification for example the Echo Milano, which has the Green Globe label. Booking.com has a sustainability option in their search engine.
4. Eat more sustainably and healthily
We are working with the caterers to offer you healthier and climate-friendlier food and drink options for official and private events. We aim to eliminate red meat and serve at least 50% of scrumptious vegetarian and vegan options.
5. BYO (Bring Your Own)
We are working to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles and focus on water stations at the congress. Almost all of us now have a reusable coffee cup or bottle, and the prevalence of cutlery kits is growing. BYO is a solid way to reduce your waste not only in your daily life, but also at an event.
We are working with MICO to implement an advanced recycling system for the congress. However, this will only work if you do your part and recycle properly by putting waste into the right container. Popping food and or general waste in a recycling bin can contaminate a whole bag, which means it will head to landfill or incineration, not to recycling facilities like it should!
7. Share your success!
What we see, we can try to emulate. Sharing your successes will encourage others to do the same – and that goes for you and your corporate partners!