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Sustainable innovation review at VO by Manon Glauden

07 May 2021
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VO Event has been using the health crisis as an opportunity to perfect its approach to environmental responsibility. It now takes on board the impact of virtual events. The next step is to support biodiversity.

VO Event learned its environmental responsibility lessons well in 2019, and has kept up the good work in 2020. Despite the health crisis. After all, the health and economic crisis does not mean the end of the climate crisis. On the contrary, this issue is all the more important at a time when the sector is recovering and looking to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Events that are virtual...

The pandemic has actually served as a trigger to align our societal effort with the new reality - the shift from event activity to digital media.

As of March 2020, the traditional notion of an event was turned upside down. Gone were the days of face-to-face events with hundreds of people physically attending conferences and shows indoors or outdoors... We had to instantly reinvent ourselves around the only possible alternative - the organisation of digital events. Teambuilding, press conferences, conventions, product launches, etc. - every type of event was rethought, to offer a powerful digital alternative for remote participants. The most symbolic event organised by VO was the R&I Days (European Research and Innovation Days) in late September 2020. For three days, 35,000 people (compared to 4,000 in 2019 in person) experienced a virtual convention and trade fair on their computer screens... However, virtual does not mean clean and harmless for the planet!

... yet virtuous

VO immediately started working on adapting its tools to assess and reduce the environmental impact of its virtual events as well. Mission accomplished! Tested in 2020, this assessment, along with its CO2 compensation, has now been integrated into the recommendations made to our customers. In order to reduce the impact of a virtual event, the mass of data being stored and transmitted, the number of connections, their duration, the load on servers, web traffic and consumption, video content, livestreams, webinars, email exchanges, etc. are all taken into account - in addition to the creation of a physical studio for the speakers. The Green IT aspect, which was barely explored until 2020, is now well under way and will remain a key factor in the organisation of virtual events.

Evolving toolkit

We have been using our Circular Event Toolkit since 2019. The Toolkit consists of eight booklets designed to create a virtuous circle of circular economy practices when organising an event. Here again, VO has taken advantage of the pandemic context to enrich its Toolkit with a section linked to digital events, as well as to Covid. Of course, sanitary measures are unavoidable, but they often go against the grain of the circular economy and lead to a return to a place where single use and plastic are predominant - which is disastrous for waste! VO Event has therefore adapted its Toolbox to address the question of how to reconcile a health-conscious approach with circularity when organising an event.

On June 10, our improved and finalised Toolkit will be made available to other stakeholders in the events sector via a webinar.

Planning to compensate for biodiversity

Always on the lookout for innovative solutions to minimise the negative impacts of its activities, VO also decided to look at its effect on biodiversity, a concept that is still little explored. With the support of scientists specialising in biodiversity, we have launched a study to calculate and reverse our impact on local biodiversity during face-to-face events. This is a more complex task than for CO2 or web consumption, because there are far fewer relevant indicators that are easy to calculate or quantify in the field of biodiversity. However, it is a fact that any event has an impact on the fauna, flora and population of the place where it is being held. So, this is something to be continued!

Sustainability as a source of innovation and creativity

In conclusion, a sustainable approach is a limitless progression that opens ever more doors. Far from being a hindrance, this approach is actually a source of innovation and creativity. We are aware of the impact of our activities, and our ambition is and will continue to be to offer unifying moments and unique experiences for participants, while reducing our negative impact as much as possible, and potentially creating a positive impact.

More blog posts

  • Review of VO's transition in 2019

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  • In 2019 VO Event was even more circular and creative!

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  • Circular Event Toolkit - our toolbox for environmentally-friendly events

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