Conference Design

A Tough Spirit For A Resilient Transformation

31st August 2022

The virtue of resilience is a lesson the world learned the hard way during the pandemic, but Rotterdam in the Netherlands was no stranger to it. The city that has been rebuilt almost from scratch, knows a little something about hardiness and adaptability and has now set course to fortifying its future. Social and environmental sustainability are key to this transformation which trickles down to business events with the help of Rotterdam Partners, the official Destination Management Organization and Convention Bureau (CVB).

Words Vicky Koffa

Located in the south of the Netherlands, Rotterdam is the country’s second largest city and Europe’s biggest port. Well-connected to the rest of Europe and the world by air, sea, train or car, Rotterdam also offers easy access within the city thanks to its compact size. With a diverse background of over 180 nationalities, inclusion, innovation, digitalization and sustainability are at the core of every business and knowledge community in the city. 

Circular & Green

Private, public and business industries benefit from the government’s full support to trigger collaboration towards a more climate adaptive future using good policies combined with cutting edge technology. Bright example is the Rotterdam Climate Agreement signed in 2019 by the city’s government together with over one hundred companies and social organizations (including NGOs, banks, innovative start-ups, the Erasmus university, even primary school pupils). The goal is to focus all efforts at making Rotterdam 100% energy neutral by 2050 with a fully circular society.

In fact, going beyond footprint reduction, Rotterdam has developed a Roadmap Circular Economy, with the ambition to have the primary use of raw materials reduced by 50% compared to today. The intent is to attract and encourage circular initiatives and green investment and BlueCity is doing just that: a national platform for circular entrepreneurs, it provides start-ups and scale-ups with access to circular resources, knowledge and talent, to turn ideas into action.

Architecture At Its Best

Construction, green energy, consumer goods and care are the four main sectors of focus for the circular transition. For a city famous for its bold and modern architecture and with 50,000 newly built houses planned until 2040, reducing construction waste and increasing environmentally friendly building policies is very important. Little C, a small-sized mixed urban area combining high-density housing and workspaces, is a project with trees planted from the bottom to the top and a water retention system, which provides both water storage and watering of the greenery.

SAWA, also known as the ‘healthiest building in the Netherlands’, is a wooden 50m high residential building with affordable housing, showcasing biodiversity, circularity and inclusion. The “Hofbogenpark”, a two-kilometre-long park on the roof of an abandoned railway, contributes also to a more nature-inclusive living environment for people and animals. A circular water system uses rainwater for watering the park and also stores the water in case of drought.

Sustainable Meetings Venues

The same mentality and policies are transforming the events infrastructure of Rotterdam into climate adaptive examples that help event organizers achieve their sustainability goals. Located in the city centre next to the central train station, de Doelen comprises of three flexible halls suited for events ranging from 100 to 3000 delegates. The venue takes its impact on society seriously, proof of which is its Golden Green Key certificate. 

Energy-saving facilities and waste separation are an integral part of business, but the venue also participates in the Rotterdam Climate Initiative for better air quality, lower energy bills and more jobs. It has also recently turned its rooftop into a green area with innovative water processes and a multi-purpose open-air terrace, as part of the 7 Square Endeavour (an international collaboration and sustainability project).

Nearby, part of the famous Rotterdam Ahoy, the brand new Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) combines 35 rooms, an impressive auditorium -the RTM Stage- with 2,863 seats (with an XL version  for 4,000), spacious foyers and exhibition areas. Directly connected to the exhibition and event halls and the Ahoy Arena (bringing great experience in hosting large events, like the Eurovision song contest), it offers endless possibilities just 10 minutes away from the centre.

Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre

The venue is a leader in sustainability, especially since it is part of the EU project Ruggedised, bringing together six cities to test, implement and accelerate the smart city model across Europe. Among other solutions, Ahoy re-uses microfibre cloths, uses biodegradable waste bags and cleaning products with the European Eco label, and organizes waste separation stations during events. Moreover, it collaborates with companies that promote social inclusivity, like Pameijer, an organization which supports people with a mental and/or psychological impairment.

Join The Movement

The City of Rotterdam and Rotterdam Partners are creating a legacy with the help of business events. Under the slogan ‘Collaboration For A Green Legacy. Make It Happen.’, the city is seeking the cooperation of organizers of international congresses and events to help create a greener city. Various options of greening are possible depending on the scale of the meeting with the ultimate goal to create 10 extra hectares of green space.

More information on Rotterdam as a conference destination: /

Leveraging this urban transformation of Rotterdam, the Urban Future Global Conference is coming to the city in 2024, whereas the Ecocity Builders World Summit took place in 2021 virtually.

“We’re thrilled to see how many organizers are interested in leaving a green legacy. With its circular ambitions and track record of making it happen, Rotterdam is the perfect host city for any organiser who considers sustainability as a key component of a successful congress or event. Rotterdam welcomes you and is more than willing to help you in your green ambitions,” concludes Catherine Kalamidas, Account Manager for Congresses & Events at Rotterdam Partners.

Rooftop tour in Rotterdam ©Iris van den Broek
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