Located in the heart of France’s largest vineyard —only 1h10m from Paris by air — Montpellier is a centre of excellence and innovation. The city has managed to combine history with a certain contemporary flair, making it stand out from other destinations. Home to the fourth-best incubator in the world for business start-ups, Montpellier boasts strengths in key sectors like medicine and healthcare research, which have positioned the city as a strong contender on the global stage.
When it comes to sustainability, actions speak louder than words, and Montpellier has effectively shown its strong vision at a local government level.
The Mayor and President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, used the municipal council last July as an opportunity to announce a state of climate emergency. With this declaration, Montpellier became the first city to create a Climate Emergency Fund (FUC) to direct investments toward ecological transition, particularly in the areas of transport, energy, the thermal renovation of buildings, clean and positive industries, risk management, and revegetation. The fund falls right in line with the many green initiatives that Montpellier instilled nearly decade ago, such as championing the use of renewable energy in public buildings and the expansion of pedestrian areas.
Another telling example of Montpellier’s commitment to sustainability took place last October with the Fifth Annual Gathering of the signatory cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP). The pact aims to build a monitoring framework process to assess the progress made by cities building sustainable food systems. Initiated in 2015 by the mayor of Milan, the pact aims to implement sustainable development policies, in addition to reflecting and sharing strategies between cities to preserve the agri-food and ecological future of the world.
As a metropolis that strongly believes its actions should be aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Montpellier published a manifesto summarizing its green commitments for the future. “The Montpellier Manifesto is a sort of constitution at municipality level,” said the Mayor in a public statement. “It is intended to be a founding act that affirms our values and principles and helps guide the city toward a bright future, where we can live sustainably and minimize climate change. The question we are looking to answer now is how so many people can inhabit the planet at once and stop abusing it.”
Gearing up for green events
In Montpellier, this eco-conscience mindset can be found across the entire supply chain. More and more venues are adopting environmentally friendly or sustainable development initiatives. A few examples include drastically reducing the use of plastic and replacing it by bamboo (when possible); carefully managing food waste; encouraging soft mobility; and advising toward locally sourced organic food.
As a one-stop shop for association planners, the Montpellier Convention Bureau can help organize sustainable events that align with the association’s green goals. According to the bureau, there’s been an uptick in congress organizers expressing a strong desire for events that have a minimum impact on the environment. The bureau’s role is to raise awareness on this very matter—which means addressing these types of sustainability requests.
In this context, the Bureau has been supporting many of its stakeholders in their efforts to manage events and control their social, economic and environmental impact. In fact, a few key steps forward have been taken by some, in areas such as gender equality in the workplace, careful management of waste or a definite move to sustainable supply chains.
On its side, the city has implemented accessibility programs for people with disabilities or reduced mobility; and Montpellier has encouraged collaboration with “ESAT” (établissements d’aide par le travail) companies, which encourage disabled people to exercise a fulfilling professional activity while benefiting from medical, social and educational follow-up. When it comes to CSR, Montpellier really walk the talk.