Leading the Sustainability Charge in Copenhagen

19th June 2024

A leading destination in the business events landscape, Copenhagen has established a strong presence in the industry’s sustainability journey. Constantly with a proactive stance towards the future, the city’s vision is supported by forward thinking champions. Recently, Boardroom had the opportunity to catch up with Kit Lykketoft, Director of Convention at the Copenhagen Convention Bureau, to gain insights into some of the innovative projects she’s been involved in and her continuous commitment to sustainability.

Words Vicky Koffa


Driving Sustainable Innovation with AI

One of the most exciting developments Lykketoft has been part of is the AI tool created by the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe (SANCBE), in collaboration with Gevme and the Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE) initiative. The Sustainability Hub for Events (SHE) is an AI-driven platform designed to simplify the journey towards sustainable events. 

As a representative of MeetDenmark in the Alliance, Lykketoft explains: “In its sustainability white paper launched last year, the European Alliance already had an ambition to create a shared online platform with all accessible knowledge.” The integration of Generative AI into this vision was a natural progression, offering an invaluable resource for industry professionals, freely accessible to all stakeholders (an important aspect for Kit). “It motivates me to get as many as possible to join the journey to a carbon net zero industry. This is why the tool is free to use for everyone,” she says.

The Sustainability Hub for Events aims at accelerating sustainability efforts by translating complex guidelines into clear, actionable steps tailored to specific event needs. It leverages the depth and breadth of the NZCE Roadmap and the Strategic Alliance’s sustainability frameworks, providing event-specific recommendations. The platform offers powerful tools such as customised sustainability action plans, venue sustainability assessments, and guidance on green cleaning, maintenance, and waste management. It also sets sustainability goals aligned with industry roadmaps and milestones, making it an indispensable partner in the pursuit of sustainable events.

Lykketoft hopes this AI tool will revolutionise knowledge sharing, enabling industry professionals to contribute and access reliable information. “From a sustainability perspective, I hope that if we all contribute information, we can create an open source of inspiration and know-how for our industry. What are others doing that I can learn from, and what can suppliers and clients do to become more sustainable? If we can at all elevate our common effort to create a better world, we must,” she states.

Copenhagen’s Commitment to Sustainability

“If we want to see rapid change and improvement, we need to work together on everything that makes sense and saves us time because, at the end of the day, time is very precious if we want to avoid further temperature rises.”

Kit Lykketoft

Strategic practices and a collaborative spirit have brought Copenhagen centrestage when organising responsible meetings. “I really believe that having a local meetings industry that chooses collaboration over competition defines how things are done in Copenhagen,” Lykketoft says. This shared sense of the common good is embodied in initiatives like the ‘Copenhagen together for positive impact’ strategy and the ‘Planet Copenhagen’ sustainability manifesto, which unite local partners in their commitment to sustainable development.

An exemplary illustration of these efforts is the Bella Center’s innovative approach to emissions reporting. Since 2024, the Bella Center has provided comprehensive climate impact reports for all large events hosted at its congress halls. These reports offer transparent disclosures of scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, covering energy, waste, purchased goods and services, food and beverage, and upstream transportation. Offered free of charge, the report facilitates more informed decision-making for its clients.

Challenges Are Part of the Game

Despite these advancements, significant challenges remain. Transportation, particularly international travel, is a major contributor to carbon emissions. “While it’s not realistic that we all stop flying to an event, we need to get better at choosing alternative modes of transportation to and from the destination when possible,” Lykketoft acknowledges. There is also considerable room for improvement in local transportation and other areas like energy sourcing, recycling, and food waste reduction at venues and hotels.

That’s why knowledge sharing across the industry is essential to overcoming these challenges. “What might be standard procedure in one place is almost unthinkable in another,” she points out, highlighting the need for a unified approach to sustainable practices.

In fact, international collaboration is a cornerstone of her vision for a sustainable meetings industry. Initiatives like Convene4Climate, co-created by PCMA and SANCBE, exemplify the impact of such collaboration. Set to take place in Barcelona this autumn, Convene4Climate is the industry’s inaugural sustainability conference, strenghthening responsibility and harnessing technology to address climate change. The promising event was announced during PCMA EMEA in Copenhagen last year, showcasing the city’s efforts to keep pushing forward the sustainability train.

“Together, we’re strong, and that also goes for sustainability. We need to be better at sharing experiences and challenging each other and our perceptions of what’s possible, and this is where a conference like Convene4Climate will be crucial. We need shared and very high ambitions, and that is why I happily took part in this conference preparation,” she emphasises.

Convene4Climate, through its workshop-based environment, aims to reimagine, inspire, and drive movement towards climate impact mitigation and long-term profitability. By embracing technology and data analytics, the industry can develop more effective strategies for reducing its environmental footprint.

Kit Lykketoft’s dedication to sustainability and her pioneering projects have boosted Copenhagen’s position in organising impactful events. But the results of such projects go beyond the borders of one city, positively changing the landscape of the global meetings industry one step at a time. A carbon net-zero reality is challenging but not impossible. 

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