Green as a Strategic Plan

20th April 2020

Known for its high quality of life, popular transit system and thriving finance industry, Zurich is constantly topping the lists ranking the most sustainable cities in the world. For association planners and delegates, this is definitely an asset – Zurich might well be the destination where organizing sustainable events is the easiest.

Words Remi Deve

Zurich has developed successfully over the past few years and its population has been growing continuously since the turn of the century. The city has never ceased to flourish thanks to a favorable economic situation, which has also proved relatively stable during the global crisis. At the same time, the local authorities have pursued various programs for sustainable urban development in areas such as energy management to conserve resources, residential building policy and mobility.

2,000 watts per person

It all started in 2008, when the people of Zurich voted in favor of a 2000-watt society and thus the sustainable development of their city. Specifically, this means that Zurich aims to reduce its energy consumption to 2,000 watts per person and its COemissions to one tonne per person and year by 2050. This ambitious long-term goal is now part of the municipal code and Zurich is working hard at it, as well as to promote the use of renewables, such as environmental heat, solar power, solar collectors or district heat with financial incentives and consultation.

Sustainability, in fact, is Zurich’s primary objective in terms of urban policy, and the city council has sketched a path to the future in its so-called “Zurich Strategies 2035”, which tackles key challenges in eight fields of action and highlights possible solutions. In this regard, the city has set itself far-reaching targets in important areas as far as sustainable development is concerned. 

Ranking third in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS) 2019, a destination level program that measures, benchmarks and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of meeting cities, Zurich has a wealth to offer environment-conscious planners. Climate-neutral excursion activities, hotels with sustainability certifications and a highly efficient public transportation network all provide a good framework for holding sustainable events.

Getting in & around

In Zurich, distances are short and commuting from one place to the other is easy and efficient. Zurich airport is in the immediate vicinity of the city centre, while all congress venues and the great majority of hotels – with 73% of them holding a sustainability certificate from a recognized label – are close to one another. And as delegates can explore the city in a resources-saving manner thanks to activities offered by Zürich Tourism, numerous city bikes are available free of charge, allowing for environment-friendly fun after a hard day’s work at a conference.

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use it, in parts or in full, has to be granted by the Publisher.

In terms of venues, the Umwelt Arena is considered one of the most sustainable event locations in the world: it is completely CO2 neutral due to the photovoltaic system that is integrated in the building, which produces more energy than it needs. Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, the refurbished Zurich Convention Center which will re-open in March 2021 is very much committed to sustainability as well. As CEO Roger Büchel explains: “We will be able to track the effectiveness of our climate protection measures over time. For instance, we will cover 70% of our heating and cooling requirements by our own seawater central from the nearby lake of Zurich. By supporting a forest protection project in Peru, we will also offset unavoidable CO2 emissions and ensure that every event in the new Zurich Convention Center is completely climate neutral without extra expenses for the organizer.”

In Zurich, it’s actually the whole supply and value chain that is keen on helping you organize an event that has the smallest possible impact on the environment and the planet. In fact, Zürich Tourism has intensively been committed to sustainability since 2010: as Switzerland’s first climate-neutral tourism organization at the time, it was instrumental in helping the destination make the complex topic of sustainability into an accessible and understandable one to all its stakeholders, and by extension its visitors. Step by step, together with the Zurich Convention Bureau, they implemented a wide variety of measures, including, for instance, the compensation of all unavoidable COemissions or the setting up of a dedicated webpage for sustainable event planning.

In this context, a wide variety of eco-friendly projects have been set up by both public and private initiatives, and the tourism sector and local hotel industry are continuing to invest heavily in sustainability initiatives. This shared vision is definitely the most effective way to become a business event destination like no other.

More info on planning sustainable meetings in Zurich:

More info on Switzerland as a convention destination: /

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