RoofDog: How is your conference green?

How is your conference / festival / event green?

related: events, unconference
flickr: Green events
recommended listening: future of conferences
slideshare: engaging events (40,000+ views)
worksheet: events checklist
your turn: event survey
editing: Green Events

All events can be more eco, more effective, more inclusive and more fun.

The most compelling events offer engaged networking and opportunities to be inspired and to be inspiring to others.

We advocate events that are more interactive and engaging than a series of monologues in which the audience is seated in rows.

Evolving from Open Space Technology and other unconference formats, events could abandon the traditional agenda and ask participants to self-organize a schedule, goals and work. Options include barcamps, carrotmobs, hangouts, photo safaris and a veritable plethora of 'alternative' formats. At the very least, we should find ways to integrate events and online conferencing.


Eco-friendly events can leave large, unfriendly footprints - USA Today - "The dialogue is cheapened when environmental events themselves do not showcase some environmental criteria for how they are implemented," says Ron Mader, founder of ecotourism journal "You're harming the development of a constituency which would support and carry forth (green) ideals."

Misc Questions

Do speakers have lanyards?
Do you have conference bags? Where are they made?

Greening the events

Many eco events don't walk their own talk and worse, don't even try. Responsible travel events are held behind closed doors. Ecotourism events leave behind mountains of trash. Our view: the dialogue is cheapened when events do not showcase environmental efforts and work with the local community.

Exclusionary events reduce the effectiveness of their mission. Events ought to model social web in which sharing, favoriting and co-creation is the new norm. The business-as-usual approach of some event organizers harms the maturation of a constituency needed to cultivate a future fit world. Our suggestion - let's look at events as modeling exercises that encourage sustainable practices.

Background features events around the world in which Ron Mader participates. On request, we work with event organizers to help green their conferences and to include social web communication before, during and after the event. We attend events that focus on responsible travel, ecotourism, conscious travel and the local travel movement.

Making the Change

How to make this change? By talking up the events that are different, including the unconference and Open Space models and using the Web (hashtags!) to create parallel encounters so that we are better informed before, during and after the event.

2002, International Year of Ecotourism
Announcing Events on

Editors are invited to announce events on the Planeta Wiki with the request that the organization's website include a link to and/or this wiki. We ask that the organizers provide updates during the event and a brief summary afterward. Physical events take place in places, so for maximum coverage we ask that the organizers help us update the relevant city and country guides which help put the event into context.


Green Events
How to organize a grassroots tourism fair
Guide to Open Space Technology


Toward effective communication in sustainable tourism

Recommended Reading

Join the conversation
Shades of Green

Elsewhere on the Web

Eco-friendly events can leave large, unfriendly footprints - USA Today
Why giving up business trips is greener than giving up holidays - Business Green
Is it better to give up a business trip than a holiday? - Green Traveller
Going Green at Web 2.0 Expo
When the festival music's over - The Guardian
Why unconferences are fun conferences - CNN
Why do we fly? Ecologists’ sins of emission
Speak at my conference for free? - Darren Rowse
Festivals like Glastonbury and Leeds need to curb their carbon emissions
A Greener Festival
Festivals put green issues higher up the bill
Can festivals ever be green?
Green Meetings Events - @GreenMeetings - @EventGreening

Defining the criteria: Questions to ask event organizers and participants

Is the event inclusive (open to the interested public) or exclusive (limited to a private group)?
Is there a public announcement of the event before it occurs? If so, in what ways is the announcement communicated? Online forums? Newspaper ads? Radio?
Does the conference use Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter, Youtube or Wiki?
Does the event have an established hashtag?
Does the conference accept questions during the event via Twitter?
Is there a public summary of the event after it occurs? If so, how soon after the event is the summary communicated?
How are locals involved and engaged?
Are locals invited?
Does the event spotlight local sustainable transportation, recycling or water conservation?
Does the event have free table space to share information?
Do participants have the means of evaluating the event? If so, is this information made public?
Do conference speakers read their presentations?
Are background readings and presentations available for online access before the event?
Are speakers paid for their presentations?
Are the travel expenses for speakers covered?
What happens to signage after the event?
How much energy does the conference use?
What conservation measures in place?
Will the conference have singing?


Elsewhere on the Web

Smart Events (Cape Town)
Smart Events Handbook (2010) (PDF)

Adelaide, South Australia
Green and Global

Since 1992, the WOMADelaide Foundation has the privilege of hiring Botanic Park from the management of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide. The Park is a magnificent 34-hectare arboretum of several hundred trees, some of which are over a century old, vast lawns and endangered flora. Being held in an inner-city environment on land owned by the government means there are some limits to WOMADelaide’s ‘green capabilities’ however the festival takes pride in doing as much as possible to protect the Park and to hand it back to the Gardens in near-perfect condition (extreme weather conditions notwithstanding).

Smart Events Handbook
Greener Events Guide (New Zealand)

Leo Hickman on the Hot Seat #wtm2011 #hotseat @leohickman @gillgreentravel

Specific Tips

Provide participants with recycled paper pads for note taking


Taleb Rifai closed the event by stating that “There is nobody who is not here who should be here”. Sadly, however, most of the real “people” in tourism who Rifai was talking about during his opening address were unable to have a chance to be there, either through lack of funding or awareness, in order that their voices and stories could also be heard, shared and, ultimately, supported. For generations to come.
- Catherine Mack, Ethics and tourism take centre stage


Pasarela por la tierra

Earth Day Celebration at the Pochimilco Market @ Oaxaca 04.2012

Embedded Tweets