Foreign Ministry's meetings will be eco-friendly

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 2.4.2019 14.28
News item

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.

Valtiosihteeri Matti Anttosen mukaan uusi kestävien kokousjärjestelyiden konsepti on jatkossa kaikkien ulkoministeriöläisten vastuulla. According to Permanent State Secretary Matti Anttonen, all employees in the Foreign Ministry will be responsible to use the green meetings concept.Photo: Laura Eloranta 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.

Konferenssivastaava Annariina Kukkonen (vasemmalla) iloitsee yhdessä WWF Suomen pääsihteeri Liisa Rohwederin kanssa yhteistyöllä syntyneen ympäristövastuullisen kokoustamisen oppaan julkistamista. Conference coordinator Annariina Kukkonen (left) together with WWF Finland's Secretary General Liisa Rohweder are happy about their good cooperation in developing the guidelines for sustainable meetings.Photo: Laura Eloranta

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.Catering is an important aspect of meetings. Seasonal food and vegetables play a key role in green meetings.

Ruoka on usein tärkeä osa kokouskokonaisuutta. Ympäristövastuullisissa kokouksissa painotetaan lähellä tuotettua sesonkiruokaa ja kasviksia. Catering is an important aspect of meetings. Seasonal food and vegetables play a key role in green meetings. Photo: Laura Eloranta

"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. 

Suomessa järjestettävissä Arktisen neuvoston kokouksissa ovat muovipullot pannassa. Vesi tarjoillaan kannuista. Se on myös mainio tapa kertoa hyvästä suomalaisesta hanavedestä. Plastic bottles are not used in Arctic Council meetings during Finland's Chairmanship. Water is offered in jugs. It is also an excellent way of promoting the high quality of Finnish tap water.Photo: Outi Koskinen

Finland's Arctic Council Chairmanship slogan is"Exploring common solutions". It is an excellent definition of the transition to green meetings, too.

 

Anni Kivioja

The writer works as a Conference Assistant in the Arctic Team

 

Guidelines for sustainable meetings (pdf)

Factsheet: Green Meetings  (pdf)

Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017–2019

Twitter: #greenmeeting