Foreign Ministry's meetings will be eco-friendly
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has introduced guidelines for environmentally sustainable meetings. The guidelines have been used for two years in Arctic Council meetings held in Finland, and now they have been made available in printed form for the Ministry’s personnel. The guidelines help preserve nature and save costs.
Finland's Arctic Council Chairmanship team and WWF Finland developed the concept to help organise more environmentally friendly meetings that would ensure sustainable catering, minimise the amount of rubbish and waste, and reduce emissions in general.
Small things make a big difference
In his opening address at the launch event Permanent State Secretary Matti Anttonen reminded that small acts make a difference especially when they are implemented on organisational level. These guidelines are practical measures that turn concern over climate change into concrete action – something, which all MFA personnel have a common responsibility to.
The overall precept goes as follows: buy what you need, keep waste to the minimum and favor seasonal and local produce. Plan the program and transportation a in advance so that the participants can reach the meeting venue without chartered transport by using public transport or by walking. Consider if there would be no gifts and if meeting materials could be distributed only electronically.
Catering plays a big role in meetings and it is therefore important to consider carefully the selection of ingredients. Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General of WWF Finland, said that vegetables and locally produced and seasonal foods offer easy ways of supporting sustainable catering. WWF Finland's Meat guide and Fish guide provide good advice.
WWF Finland intends to use the results of the project in its Green Office programme.
Reconsidering old habits
The idea about green meetings was partly inspired by the Environmental Strategy, prepared by the Foreign Ministry's eco-team. Annariina Kukkonen, Conference coordinator responsible for organizing Arctic Council meetings at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, says that the new green meeting guidelines have been welcomed enthusiastically. The concept has also been applied to other big events organized by other ministries and organizations.
"When the project was launched, I had one wish: I hoped that the concept would be so good that the Arctic Council would start using it also after Finland's Chairmanship. At the last Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials meeting, I got the support from the Council that this concept would be followed also in the future.. I couldn't be happier!" says Kukkonen.
Organizing green meetings requires discarding old habits. Anyone can get started using the Foreign Ministry's guidelines.
Finland's Arctic Council Chairmanship slogan is"Exploring common solutions". It is an excellent definition of the transition to green meetings, too.
The writer works as a Conference Assistant in the Arctic Team