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Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive, Green Tourism

Article Published 28/07/2021

For more than 25 years Green Tourism has assessed and accredited the sustainable practices of businesses. In June 2021, the organisation created its new Green Meetings standard, which is specific to meetings and events venues.

On 7th June 2021, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre became the first venue to gain this new accreditation.

We sat down with Andrea Nicholas, Chief Executive at Green Tourism to discuss the new standards and the benefits they bring to the events industry and the wider economy.

Tell us about the new Green Meetings standard, why did you launch this?

The new Green Meetings Standard builds on Green Tourism's existing meetings and event venues criteria, which were developed in 2001. The initiative has been launched in response to industry demand, as event organisers are increasingly green-minded and seeking out venues with strong sustainable and ethical credentials that meet the highest international environmental standards.

What are the benefits of this accreditation to venues?

Recent research shows that 92% of event professionals state sustainability is important to them (The Meetings Show). The Green Meetings Standard taps into the increased importance placed on a venue's approach to sustainability, providing an independent certification that demonstrates that they take environmental responsibilities seriously.

There are additional benefits for venues, in terms of providing a practical framework for identifying and implementing improvements, reducing energy use, maintaining best practice and awareness of sustainability within teams, and supporting the community. The Green Meetings Standard also includes promotion of the destination and local attractions, use of public transport, and encourages delegates to stay longer than just the duration of the event. The hope is that delegates may then return to the destination with their family in future.

How can venues apply for this accreditation and what do they need to demonstrate to be able to achieve bronze, silver, or gold?

The application process takes place online; applicants use our GreenCheck portal to prepare for their assessment and the information and evidence they provide is reviewed and verified by one of our experienced and qualified sustainability assessors. The interactive process is based on three pillars: caring for people, caring for places, and caring for our planet, and includes 15 sustainability goals with 70 criteria which are specific and relevant to meetings and events venues.  The portal provides a real-time score for the venue and if they score more than 40%, they can achieve a Bronze, over 65% a Silver and over 80% a Gold standard.

What does the Green Meetings standard mean for the events industry?

The new Green Meetings Standard provides credibility and benchmarking that will help venues move their sustainability programme on much more quickly than previously. With sustainability at the top of the agenda for many event planners, we envisage that this accreditation will support venues in highlighting their credentials and commitment to being more environmentally responsible and help them recover post-pandemic.

What does the Green Meetings standard mean for the wider Scottish economy?

It has potential to attract more events to Scotland that have sustainability at their core - something that is becoming increasingly prevalent. Delegates attending these events in Scotland are much more likely to embrace sustainable measures - for example, staying in the country longer, exploring the local area thereby contributing to the local economy, supporting local businesses and potentially returning to Scotland on holiday. By embracing the Green Meetings Standard, the meetings and events sector in Scotland will be contributing to the carbon reduction targets and aspirations for Scotland to be a leading Green Tourism destination.

What's next for Green Tourism?

As we are a tech-led organisation with our digital GreenCheck platform, we are attracting a lot of interest from the international market. In the wake of Covid, people's perception of sustainability has evolved and there's huge demand for sustainable options.

Green Tourism was established in 1997 and we have built up a huge amount of experience since then. It feels like our time has come and we are well placed to help the industry make a serious difference.

Find out more about Green Tourism here