Towards more sustainable and climate-friendly catering in events

Umanotera conference, March 2022
Umanotera conference, March 2022

Slovenian NGO Umanotera organised a conference on climate-friendly catering at events in cooperation with the Slovenian Convention Bureau, Ljubljana Convention Bureau and Conventa. Almost 100 participants attended the event, including events organisers, local and national authorities, tourism and hospitality agencies, catering providers and others.

The participants heard good practice examples and were able to share their experiences, challenges and recommendations by participating in workshops. They agreed that networking and constant learning are crucial and that only changing eating habits, and food & drinks provisions will not change the global crisis – and at the same time, it cannot be addressed without changing eating habits, and food & drinks provisions.

Recommendations included tips on how to set and measure sustainable goals in general, especially when it comes to catering/food and drinks at events. Some examples: focus on plant-based foods, food produced in an ecological and biodynamic way, offering food that does not end up thrown away, using seasonal products, offering locally produced and/or fair-trade meals, avoiding processed food and reducing packaging. The legacy of events should be balanced, and sustainable in broadest perspective. The aim is to reduce carbon footprint and (food) waste per person, taking into account health, environment, ethics. Sustainability needs several actions; communication and awareness-raising, education and training, implementation and monitoring.

The guests from Gothenburg also pointed out that high science is not required to comply with the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. The basic principles (more plant, organic, locally grown, seasonal food and less discarded food) are known and every event organiser can incorporate them into their DNA in a fun way and thus impress visitors.

All participants in the round table highlighted the great need for awareness, especially training of event organisers and catering providers to respond to growing demand and, as an industry, fulfil their responsibility in addressing the multifaceted crisis. We cannot properly address the climate crisis without changing our eating habits.