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UNIDO “Cultivates” First Green Congress – in Vienna

The Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD) was held this year for the fifth time from November 19-23 at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. During the course of the event, 900 delegates concentrated on international development cooperation with the developing countries, particularly South America and South Africa. The meeting covered political, economic, cultural, and social aspects, as well as technical and ecological ones. There was a special focus on the latter this year, since 2012 is the "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All."

"Nothing could therefore have been more natural than to arrange this congress as a Green Meeting,” said Weixi Gong, South-South Cooperation Coordinator, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). "And thanks to the expertise and support of the Vienna Convention Bureau, we succeeded admirably in this task. We also learned a lot in the process that will enable us to make more effective use of environmentally friendly measures at future events – and in this sense, this will also be a sustainable effect that we can take with us from Vienna.”

The measures developed in cooperation with the Vienna Tourist Board’s Vienna Convention Bureau (VCB) to minimize the "ecological footprint" of the GSSD Expo ranged from recommendations for the most ecological possible travel arrangements and transport around the city, booking hotels awarded the EcoLogo, all the way through to the use of biologically produced or biodegradable materials for convention utensils such as conference folders, stationery and printed papers. Printing costs were also reduced to a minimum by distributing a great deal of information on USB sticks instead of on paper, and regional and seasonal products were chosen for catering purposes.

New "Green Passport" for congress delegates

In collaboration with UNIDO, the VCB came up with an innovation designed to increase congress delegates’ environmental awareness. At the GSSD Expo, they all received a "Green Passport" explaining the fact that they were taking part in a Green Meeting, and outlining the underlying ideas as well as the measures taken. The "Green Passport" – produced in passport format – also contained tips about what congress delegates themselves could do in support of the Green Meeting philosophy. It gave all the ways of getting to the Imperial Palace using Vienna Lines public transport, recommended waste separation and foregoing fresh towels every day at the hotel, and listed businesses selling organic products – from bakery products to cosmetics – and even shops with design objects made from recycled materials. For any delegates extending their stay after the end of the congress, there was also a detailed programme suggestion for a "green day in Vienna".

VCB Director Christian Mutschlechner said: "The ‘Green Passport' is a step on the way to more Green Meetings, since the idea is to introduce as many people a possible to the concept of ‘green thinking’ in the conference business. The objective is to establish Green Meetings as an international standard and environmentally friendly behavior as a given."