Thursday, 16 August 2007

MPI to Sign the United Nations Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility

Elevating commitment to sustainability and social responsibility

MONTRÉAL (July 28, 2007) – In a bold leadership statement, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) today announced that it will sign the United Nations (UN)Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility. The MPI Board of Directors gave the unanimous approval during the World Education Congress à la Montréal.

The United Nations Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative with more than 3,700 participants and stakeholders from more than 100 countries. It provides an unprecedented and powerful platform for participating organizations with respect to advancing their commitment to sustainability and global citizenship. It consists of more than 50 national networks in developed and emerging economies and provides an opportunity for signatories to further their corporate social responsibility objectives.

“This is the first step in making a commitment to this growing global focus,” said Angie Pfeifer, CMM, chairwoman of the MPI board of directors. “By supporting the UN Compact, MPI continues to position itself as an industry leader and elevates the conversation for our members by informing them about Corporate Social Responsibility and the role that meetings and events professionals can play in supporting those principles for employers and clients. As more and more successful organizations focus on CSR, it is the right thing to do at the right time.”

There are 10 principles in the UN Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labor, environmental sustainability and anti-corruption. The Compact asks companies to support and enact, within their sphere of influence, these principles as core values.

The global compact is a voluntary initiative to promote good corporate citizenship, a set of values based on universally accepted principles, and a forum for learning and an exchange of experiences.

MPI has retained Wallace Partners to assist them in developing emerging educational and marketplace opportunities related to Corporate Social Responsibility for MPI’s global community. They also have been tasked with accelerating MPI’s commitment to environmental sustainability at its events, including the introduction of a number of new practices at its World Education Congress currently under way in Montréal.

“One of our four strategic imperatives is to elevate the conversation and experience for our members,” said Bruce MacMillan, CA, MPI president and CEO. “Committing to the principles of the UN Compact is a first step in educating our members about a growing global initiative that will impact their professional world. It is also meant to inspire them to take action and make them more strategic to organizations and clients who have or would like to make a similar commitment.”


As part of this recently affirmed commitment MPI has created at Corporate Responsibility site, including a CSR blog and resources.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Green Meetings Act Update

In update to the post last month, Rep. Schwartz' Green Meetings Act was passed by a voice vote as an amendment to H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act. As an amendment to the House energy bill (H.R. 3221), this bill must now be negotiated together with the Senate energy bill. After that, the House and Senate most vote on a final energy bill. If it passes both chambers, then it will be sent to the president for his signature. A great first step to support greener meetings, but this proposal still has a ways to go before it can be signed into law.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

First Impressions

It struck me the other day as I sat outside the arrivals hall at Vancouver International that for many of us the first impression we make of a city is based on its taxi cabs. So what do your cabs say about your city?

Sitting in a concrete box on the lower level of the airport I am struck that there is very little smell here. Even with a dozen taxis and shuttles rushing by each minute, there is very little exhaust in the air. My eyes travel down the taxi queue. At least half of the vehicles are hybrids. I've lived here for years and travel monthly from the could I have not noticed this before?

I return home - traveling my usual route green minded route of a scheduled shuttle downtown and public transit the rest of the way to the house - noting along the way the seemingly prolific number of hybrid taxis on the road throughout the city.

I hop online and Google 'hybrid taxis Vancouver'.

I'm surprised to find the city home to the world's first (self-proclaimed) hybrid taxi driver, Andrew Grant. Grant's first Prius cab was purchased in 2000 and his 7 year commitment to the car is chronicled in an interesting article by Brendan Sandbury, originally published in Grist in August 2005. At the time of the article Yellow Cabs - the largest taxi company in Vancouver - was operating a fleet of 40 hybrids, planning to roll over 25-30 in their 210 car fleet over to hybrids each year.

I feel a twinge of pride in the city, wondering how widespread the adoption of hybrid taxis might be in other cities.

Given the benefits outlined in Grant's experience the switch seems a no-brainer:
  • Savings of $900 - 1,100 per month on fuel costs.
  • Reduction in maintenance costs by half.
  • Access to a niche of green customers (Grant estimates 30% of his customer base are green clients, dialing him specifically because of his hybrid vehicle).
  • Silent riding.
Other cities are embracing the hybrid taxi philosophy, including London, New York and San Francisco. New York's move to green the city's taxi fleet is estimated to potentially reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

Boston CVB's Green Program

Came across BostonUSA's Green Visitors Program today. Looks like the convention and visitors bureau is stepping up package and market the city's green services as a complete destination product. For more information on the initiative please click here.

Green Lodging Programs provide options for smaller meeting venues

Although often overlooked for city-wide events, smaller meetings and conferences are a market that can be attracted to the green meeting destination. These groups do not look to fill congress centres, but can take advantage of space available at smaller hotels and boutique properties.

So where can a meeting planner find these types of small-scale venues?

Both Fairmont and Kimpton hotels are positioning themselves as 'green meeting' chain, creating company-wide policies for environmental practices that are being rolled at many of their properties. By in large, however, few hotel chains are able to respond as a company to requests for green venues in a number of cities.

State green lodging programs can be a useful source of this information in the United States, and include:
In addition, the following certification and eco-labelling schemes can be helping in locating hotel venues that meet environmental

Information on larger green conference venues can be found here.