Hosting the 6th European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conference has been , for the Metropolitan Council of Dunkerque, the occasion to strengthen its sustainable development initiatives throughout the community and to create a green and responsible event in cooperation with ICLEI.
The negative impacts on the environment have been minimised, namely through limiting the water and energy consumption in the conference venue, the Kursaal. Inaugurated in 1983, the Kursaal has been engaged, since 2005, in efforts to meet sustainable development standards. These include low consumption equipment, retrieval of rainwater, etc.
The host has also made efforts to strengthen its sustainable procurement policies. All conference meals have been prepared using seasonal, certified-organic, fair trade, and/or regional products. Materials used for decoration and signage were environmentally-friendly: canvasses made from regionally-produced plant fibers, cardboard furniture, local plants that have been replanted by a firm from the Lille region.
The organisation of the 6th European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conference has been conceived in such a way as to integrate the conference into the Greater Metropolitan Area and its community, in order to promote collaboration and exchange with the Dunkerque citizens and to leave a positive legacy in the community that hosts the event.
Between September 2009 and December 2010, thanks to the Dunkerque 2010 Crossroads of Sustainable Development, numerous events have been offered to the people of Dunkerque to allow them to incorporate sustainable development into their lives. These opportunities have included a variety of exhibits on climate refugees, eco-districts, conferences, nature visits, film screenings and debates, and a rally for sustainable development. In addition, a series of debate workshops have been an opportunity for citizens, local actors and institutions to collaborate to produce a local position on each of the parallel session themes.
In a more practical sense, the people of the region have become involved in the preparations of the conference. For example, citizens planted micro-gardens, decorating the port where the cruise-ship (where some of the participants were hosted) was docked. The horticultural school Leffrinckoucke put efforts towards beautifying the courtyard of the train station, allowing its students to put to use their new skills and ensuring a better welcome to the participants.
For the 6th ESCT Conference Dunkerque 2010, a climate legacy initiative was adopted. As part of this initiative, a carbon offset payment of 15 Euros was included in the conference fee to compensate for CO2 emissions caused by conference related travel. The Metropolitan Council of Dunkerque chose to invest the amount collected to finance micro-projects related to Agenda 21.
Organised events that bring many people together can often be a valuable opportunity for awareness-raising, learning and creating a new culture of caring for natural, social and financial resources. But these same events pose significant problems for local natural resources, (e.g. energy, water), environment (e.g. caused by emissions, waste, soil degradation) and the community.
To assist organisers and hosts of small-to medium-sized meetings in greening their events, ICLEI, in cooperation with UNEP, has developed the Green Meeting Guide 2009. You can download the greening guide on the following website: www.iclei.org/itc/greening