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PRME Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance

About

Background

With over 800 signatories worldwide, PRME’s mission is to transform management education and develop the responsible decision-makers of tomorrow to advance sustainable development. This work is done through engaged reporting, sharing and developing resources, but also importantly, through local, chapter-based, and international convening and events. These events, at all scales and in each modality, are a vital means of fostering global collaboration, knowledge exchange, and understanding. However, it's critical to acknowledge the environmental, climatic, and equity implications of these convenings. These events inadvertently contribute to environmental degradation, climate change, and unequal access to information dissemination and networking opportunities. In response to these challenges, PRME must proactively adopt sustainable travel and conference methodologies in alignment with the pressing need for climate action.

PRME must embrace tools and formats that increase engagement and equitable representation in authentic and meaningful exchange of experiences and solutions. PRME must seek to maximize the benefit of these meetings towards PRME’s values, dialogue, and impact. By adopting a sustainable and responsible approach, both physical and virtual events can continue to significantly contribute to promoting inclusivity and equality. This approach will aid in revolutionizing management education and disseminating knowledge about global sustainable development. Such efforts are indispensable in addressing some of the world's most urgent challenges.

At the same time, PRME represents a diverse collective of business schools from different regions and cultures across the world. As such, it is imperative that any policies or guidelines set forth should be mindful of local cultures and applied fairly. Thus, the principles are not intended to be prescriptive and reflect the need to consider the need for equity for PRME signatories in the Global South, who are often the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change but also stand to benefit the most from the resources that international travel and events provide. To this end, PRME will continue to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders to better understand their needs and concerns, and work to develop policies that are equitable and just.

Scope

The engagement of PRME is performed through the annual Global Forum, the activities organized in local chapters, the PRME working groups, PRME champions, and global student events. Local chapters have an average of one annual event organised regionally and smaller more local activities attended by signatory member representatives. There are also conferences affiliated to PRME in that they are co-organized by local chapters, for instance the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) chapter co-organize the Responsible Management Education Research, a 3-day event for presenting research papers and professional development workshops. These events take place globally and attract scholars from all over the world.

Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance

Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance
Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance Download Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance URL

Additional Support

To support you with the implementation of the PRME Sustainable Travel and Events Guidance, we have provided resources for each of the Fundamentals. Generally, we would recommend that you start to measure your travel-related carbon emissions (Scope 3), and set targets and actions on how to reduce them soon.

In order to do so and get inspiration for other high impact climate solutions, you might want to read this toolkit for universities and the ‘Handbook of Carbon Management'.

PRME is also supporting the transition of business schools to low carbon organisations by running ‘Climate Literacy Trainings for Business Schools. Please check the PRME event calendar for the next intake or contact clt@unprme.org.

Five Fundamentals

In the following we have listed the key Fundamentals for our conference/meeting and travel guide in order of impact and possible carbon reduction. Each of the Fundamentals has a section in the document where we give recommendations and best practice on how to achieve this as well as further information on carbon calculations and rationale.

Virtual First Logo

Virtual First: Endeavor to organize meetings in a virtual setting whenever feasible, particularly if attendees would need to engage in lengthy air travel. Strive to make these online events as engaging and dynamic as possible.

Geographic Flexibility Logo

Geographic Flexibility: Rotate locations for international in-person conferences and make then hybrid to aid inclusion and diversity, reduce carbon and promote of equitable participation.

Travel Methods Logo

Travel Methods: Consider air travel as a final option and promote the use of public transportation for all face-to-face meetings. Emphasize the importance of in-person attendance particularly at more localized gatherings. Encourage travel by train where possible.

Events Sustainability Logo

Event Sustainability: Institute sustainability guidelines to ensure your conference or meeting is as sustainable as possible. Consider being ‘default veg’, ask attendees to report their travel carbon footprint, offer drinks in reusable bottles/cups/glasses and consider the contents of any goodie bags.

Continuous Enhancement Logo

Continuous Enhancement: Strive for improvement and excellence in all endeavours. Learn from both successes and failures and utilize these insights to inform future actions. Foster a culture that values feedback, encourages learning, and adapts to change.

1. Virtual First

Virtual First Logo

Virtual First: Endeavor to organize meetings in a virtual setting whenever feasible, particularly if attendees would need to engage in lengthy air travel. Strive to make these online events as engaging and dynamic as possible.

How to Guide

How To Guide: Virtual First
How To Guide: Virtual First Download How To Guide: Virtual First URL

Sustainability Leadership

We would recommend prioritizing 'Virtual First' and taking action on global sustainability leadership that embraces equality, diversity and inclusion and reduces the carbon emissions of an event through reduced venue and hotel energy and flight travel requirements. The following box contains resources to support you in your journey as a sustainable leader.

Resources


Carbon Footprint

  • Calculate the Co2e of all activities.
  • Use online calculators or environmental experts to estimate emissions associated with conference, attendee travel, virtual platform usage.

The following contains resources and calculators you could use.

Resources


Green Web Hosting

  • Select eco-friendly web hosting via renewable energy powered data centers significantly reducing the environmental impact of hosting the conference website.
  • Use a clean and minimalist design for the conference website and other digital assets to reduce server load and promotes accessibility for all users.

The following contains a link to B Corp for certified web hosting providers to consider.

Resources


Virtual Platform Selection

  • Select features to minimize resource consumption, such as auto-adjusting video quality
  • and bandwidth optimization.
  • Use energy-efficient devices and share digital presentations instead of printing handouts.
  • Design slides with darker backgrounds, as screens use less power to display dark colors.
  • Turn off webcams when not needed such as keynote speaker or long presentation.
  • Watch videos in standard definition (SD) instead of high definition (HD).

The following contains resources to assist you in designing a sustainable virtual event.

Resources


Engaging Virtual Conference Tools

We recommend careful selection of innovative online participant engagement tools and utilising innovative APPs and AI to create an immersive virtual experience. The following contains links to virtual conference tools and B Corp certified providers.

Resources


Equality Diversity & Inclusion

Embed EDI within digital event planning. The following contains resources to help you consider accessibility and neurodiversity in digital design.

Resources


Recorded Sessions and Feedback

  • Make conference sessions available on-demand after the event, enabling attendees post event content access, reducing the need for simultaneous high-capacity streaming.
  • Compress media files before sharing with attendees.
  • Attendees to delete unneeded emails and files after the event. Attendee feedback on sustainability efforts and ideas for improvement.

The following contains resources you could use to boost your post event engagement.

Resources


Sustainable Marketing

  • Promote the conference using digital channels and avoid printing physical materials whenever possible.
  • Utilize email campaigns, social media, and virtual event listings to reach attendees without generating unnecessary waste.

The following contains resources links to B Corp certified marketing providers to help you reduce the environmental impact of the event.

Resources

2. Geographic Flexibility

Geographic Flexibility Logo

Geographic Flexibility: Rotate locations for international in-person conferences and make then hybrid to aid inclusion and diversity, reduce carbon and promote of equitable participation.

How to Guide

How to Guide: Geographic Flexibility
How to Guide: Geographic Flexibility Download How to Guide: Geographic Flexibility URL

Vision for Equitable Conferences

The PRME Global Forum has historically been held in New York City with the most recent (and first face to face event since 2017), held within June, 2023. To ensure that future events are more equitable and accessible to global PRME members, it is proposed that each face to face PRME Global Forum is held within a different continent. PRME conferences are forums of decision making, knowledge exchange and personal, professional and career development, influence policy making, foster local networks and support the local economy. Conference equity can be defined as: ‘attainment of an equitable level of attendee active engagement, influence and access to a conference regardless of country of origin, location, available funds or affiliation, (Velin et al, 2021).

The following contains resources to help you plan geographically inclusive in person events.

Resources


Best Practice Scheduling

  • For optimum geographic inclusivity, event and conference scheduling should rotate between continents and time zones.
  • An example of this is if an in-person event is planned within the African continent, all delegates attending from African countries have increased accessibility to the event through sustainable travel alongside unavoidable flights while intercontinental delegates can adopt the 'Virtual First' approach.

The following contains resources to assist you with equitable event scheduling.

Resources


In-Person Conference Hosting

  • Regional chapter events (such as UK & Ireland) can be held in person with delegates prioritising rail travel.
  • When planning and hosting an in-person event, wherever possible, delegates are to select sustainable transport methods (See Travel Guidance).

The following contains resources to assist you with equitable in person event hosting.

Resources

See PRME Fundamental 4: Event Sustainability


Barriers

Reducing geographical, administrative and accessibility barriers will facilitate delegate equality, diversity and inclusion within in person events and enhance the conference experience for all: Potential barriers for consideration are listed below followed by resources.

  • Financial barriers
  • Visa restrictions
  • Political barriers
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Time zones

Resources


Sustainable Transport

  • When planning and hosting an in person event, wherever possible, delegates are to select rail travel.

The following contains resources to assist you with sustainable transport.

Resources

See PRME Fundamental 3: Travel Methods

3. Travel Methods

Travel Methods Logo

Travel Methods: Consider air travel as a final option and promote the use of public transportation for all face-to-face meetings. Emphasize the importance of in-person attendance particularly at more localized gatherings. Encourage travel by train where possible.

How to Guide: Travel Methods

How to Guide: Travel Methods
How to Guide: Travel Methods Download How to Guide: Travel Methods URL

Travel Methods Guidance for Hosting

To maintain PRME leadership, embrace sustainable and inclusive practices and respond to the climate crisis and where in person events are planned, sustainable travel should be prioritised. Geographical location of conference hosting, local sustainable transport and a hybrid approach to intercontinental delegates can reduce carbon emissions. Select an appropriate location for access to public transport that also offers accessibility to all participants. Implementing best practice scheduling for conference hosting to facilitate equity of opportunity for face to face interaction. Collaboration with local stakeholders to select an appropriate conference location can facilitate maximum access to sustainable public transport.

Design and implement a sustainable transport plan to include:

  • Event Transport & Logistics
  • Encourage sustainable transport for all in person events with all air travel as a final option.
  • Emphasize the importance of in-person attendance at more localized gatherings.
  • Accessibility to public transport
  • Encourage and facilitate safe cycling and bile storage options.
  • Where delegates need to travel by Private car, encourage car sharing and electric vehicle use where appropriate infrastructure is available.
  • Ensure delegate and stakeholder communication including a travel plan/ information and guidance.

The following contains resources to help you plan and deliver events with sustainable travel methods by providing solutions and encouraging colleagues to adapt and change their practice.

Resources

4. Event Sustainability

Events Sustainability Logo

Event Sustainability: Institute sustainability guidelines to ensure your conference or meeting is as sustainable as possible. Consider being ‘default veg’, ask attendees to report their travel carbon footprint, offer drinks in reusable bottles/cups/glasses and consider the contents of any goodie bags.

How to Guide: Event Sustainability

How to Guide: Event Sustainability
How to Guide: Event Sustainability Download How to Guide: Event Sustainability URL

Prioritise Sustainability within Event Planning, Delivery and Evaluation

To demonstrate PRME sustainability leadership in action, plan and deliver your event with minimum environmental impact and maximum engagement of delegates with the sustainability of the event and creation of a positive legacy. Plan to reduce venue related emissions, minimise resource consumption and embed the SDGs.

  • Plan budgets for sustainability measures that occur during the event planning and execution phase.
  • Collaborate with sponsors that prioritize sustainability, social responsibility, and eco-friendly practices. Seek sponsorship from green companies or those willing to implement sustainable initiatives during the conference.
  • Create an event Carbon Policy, conduct a pre event carbon audit of CO2e emissions using a suitable carbon calculation tool and report Scope 1,2 and 3 emissions.
  • Create an energy policy including goals for energy savings (e.g. 15 % compared to the previous event). Favour the use of daylight working stations close to windows; break-out/ coffee areas with natural light. Provide key cards that are linked to energy appliances so lights and appliances switch off when people leave the room.
  • Devise a sustainable travel plan (See Fundamental 3: Travel Methods).
  • Waste policy: plan for consistent separation of waste.
  • Prioritise biodiversity, the natural environment and water (natural resources) within event design, delivery and completion.
  • If developing a new venue or refurbishing/ repurposing an existing venue: design to allow flexibility, multipurpose and continuous use.
  • Create an event Legacy Policy focussing on continuing benefits to the local environment, economy and community. The following box contains resources to help you measure and manage the event's carbon emissions.

The following contains resources to assist you in measuring the carbon footprint of your events.

Resources


Further Recommendations for Event Sustainability

The following are further ideas for consideration within sustainable event design, planning and delivery to reduce venue related emissions, minimise resource consumption and embed the SDGs.

  • Staff/ volunteer clothing and sustainability credentials/ accreditations: Select sustainable material apparel (organic cotton, create non-event year edition printed clothing
  • Use lanyards and accreditation made from sustainable materials, recycled materials, and be themselves recyclable.
  • Aim to create a diverse and global experience for all stakeholders.
  • Prioritise the local community within procurement, workforce and consider neighbourhood requirements.
  • Ensure the registration process or sign-up form asks open-ended questions and allows participants to note their dietary requirements, preferred pronouns and disability status in their own words.

Stakeholder communication

  • Sustainability coordination: Promote your sustainability planning amongst each member of the event organising team, Engage closely with the sustainability goto person appointed from the organising team.
  • Delegate participation

5. Continuous Enhancement

Continuous Enhancement Logo

Continuous Enhancement: Strive for improvement and excellence in all endeavours. Learn from both successes and failures and utilize these insights to inform future actions. Foster a culture that values feedback, encourages learning, and adapts to change.

How to Guide: Continuous Enhancement

How to Guide: Continuous Enhancement
How to Guide: Continuous Enhancement Download How to Guide: Continuous Enhancement URL

Recommendations for Continuous improvement

A process of continuous improvement will ensure that best practice is maintained. The following are suggestions for continuing to lead and improve sustainable event design.

  • After each conference, evaluate its sustainability performance, identify areas for improvement, set new goals, KPI’s and share learning and insights.
  • Use feedback from attendees, sponsors, and team members to make the next event even more sustainable.
  • Collaborate with local and global stakeholders and build on existing relationships.
  • Remember, sustainability is an ongoing journey, and every effort, no matter how small, contributes to a more environmentally responsible future.

For further information about how to embed sustainability and carbon management within a broad range of sectors, such as hospitality, and adapt recommendations to your event scenario, view the handbook below.

Resources