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Greening the World Congress

The ICLEI World Congress 2006 is going to be a green event. This entails hosting the event in a responsible way by making environmentally, socially and economically responsible decisions when organising, managing or participating. Those decisions then need to be channelled into long term actions for sustainability.


Over 9000 international meetings are held globally each year and about 20% of these are on a significant scale which involves over 1000 participants. Therefore, as you can imagine, when large numbers of people gather for an event, the host city, country or area experiences a great increase in demand for natural resources (e.g. water and energy) and additional stress is placed on the local communities (e.g. waste and pollution). Some of this impact is positive, usually translated into economic benefits; however these benefits are often accompanied by negative environmental and social impacts. This is where event greening comes in because it has the potential to reduce the negative impacts that the event has on the host region. In other words, event greening contributes to the maintenance of a healthy environment capable of meeting resource demands in the future.

Vision of a "green event"

The vision of a green event is to reduce the consumption of natural resources, avoid damage to the local and global environment, protect biodiversity and human health, reduce waste to a minimum, take ecological, social and economic aspects into account for future-oriented city development and offer sustainable development options to the local people, their environment and economy. This last point is an essential part of the greening legacy and it highlights that there should be no negative impacts on local inhabitants. It is also important to realise that the greening of an event is an on-going and continuous process and not just an isolated once-off activity. It is crucial that event greening involves incorporating sustainable development principles into all levels of event organization and implementation.

Benefits of a "green event"

Event hosting can be used as a medium for a host city to initiate sustainable development programmes which will have long-term local economic, social and environmental benefits. Greening an event also has direct financial cost savings for the various role players. This is mostly achieved by reducing energy and water costs (through reduction in use and efficient technology), encouraging waste separation and recycling (which contributes to the development of local recyclers, and stimulates local economies) and through purchasing local products.


These gatherings also provide unique opportunities to raise awareness around sustainable development issues and thus encourage people to change their perceptions and behaviour and make responsible decisions that can reduce the negative impact on the environment and society.

Basic principles of the greening process

  1. Environmental best practice
  2. Social and economic development
  3. Education and awareness
  4. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
  5. Leaving a positive legacy

World Congress greening objectives

The objective of greening the ICLEI World Congress 2006 is to ensure that the organisation and management of the congress is planned and undertaken in such a way that it demonstrates best environmental practices, and makes a significant contribution to enabling sustainable development and local community benefits in Cape Town. It is envisaged that through the greening process, negative environmental and social impacts will be minimised, that there will be an increased awareness regarding the importance of sustainable development in Cape Town and that a positive greening legacy will be left behind. The project will seek specifically to promote best practices that are also financially advantageous to local industries.

Leaving a positive legacy

Long-term sustainability and leaving a positive legacy are important features of greening an event. As mentioned, greening an event is a process, and as such requires continuous assessment, both during and after the event. This monitoring and evaluation is to appraise the effectiveness of the decisions made and the activities performed and provides information on achievements and successes which can be disseminated and incorporated into future activities and events. It also urges people to be accountable for their actions but most importantly encourages continuous learning.


Part of leaving a positive legacy entails the demonstration of best practice which contributes to heightened public awareness of the meaning and significance of sustainable development. To demonstrate South Africa’s practical commitment to sustainable development and to leaving a positive legacy, the City of Cape Town intends to continue to support the initiatives established during the ICLEI World Congress. For the greening of an event to leave a successful legacy, for biodiversity to be maintained, for poverty to be alleviated, it is important that greening be seen as a long-term process, entailing the cooperation of all sectors and industries, with a common vision of social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Greening newsletters

The City of Cape Town has compiled its first greening newsletter in November 2005, and its second volume was released in February 2006. Here is the final newsletter produces after the congress.

World Congress greening links

World Congress greening priorities [Word, 83KB]

ICLEI Greening Events

Climate legacy initiative

Basic Information regarding Greening [PDF, 94KB]

ICLEI World Congress 2006: Exhibitors Manual on Greening [PDF, 114KB]

Hotel Greening Initiative [Word, 225KB]





Page last updated: 10.May.2012

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