NAME OF EVENT Responsible Business Forum 2013
ORGANISER Global Initiatives, Eco-Business, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Business Coalition
VENUE Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
OCCUPIED SPACES Hibiscus Ballroom and Heliconia Ballroom
WHEN November 25-26, 2013
PAX Over 500
BUDGET Undisclosed

Event overview

The Responsible Business Forum (RBF) 2013 is a two-day forum bringing together business leaders, NGOs, and policy makers from Southeast Asia to accelerate business solutions and policy frameworks to increase sustainability.

Held at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for the second time, the forum themed “Transformation, Growth and the Green Economy” saw delegates discussing commitments and policy recommendations to increase sustainability across six sectors – agriculture and forestry, palm oil, consumer good, financial services, building and urban infrastructure, and energy.

RBF saw the attendance of Singapore’s Minister for Water and Environment, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as guest of honour.

This forum also discussed how responsible event planning can have a positive legacy by reducing the environmental impact of the event’s operations. As the venue, Marina Bay Sands played a bigger role in championing sustainable event planning to create a 100 per cent carbon-neutral event.

Execution

A fully carbon-neutral event like RBF involved meticulous planning in every aspect, spanning from sustainable menus, recycling, waste management, to engaging the delegates to give back to the community through the property’s Sands ECO360 programme.

Set-up and environmental settings

MBS introduced advanced and in-room movement sensors in the meeting rooms. Set to 25 degrees Celsius, the rooms also took on ECO360 settings such as no pre-setting of paper, mints and water at tables and the use of water dispensers and glasses to reduce wastage. No chair covers were used, and the backdrop was made from sustainable material.

F&B

MBS offered its first customised vegetarian menu from Green Harvest Menus, which included ingredients and produce sourced locally and from Southeast Asia to reduce food miles. All condiments were served in bulk, and there were no pre-pour beverages on the tables so as to avoid wastage.

Waste management

Food waste was weighed to ensure all of it was sustainably disposed of, and sorted and recycled wherever possible. Non-contaminated food waste was composted, and cooking oil used in menus recycled. After the event, an Impact Statement illustrated sustainable event metrics such as energy and water consumption, recycling rate, carbon emissions and some highlights of sustainable initiatives.

Helping the community

Delegates were invited to join MBS’ green movement by participating in Soap for Hope, an activity which collects leftover liquid shampoo and soap from hotel rooms on a regular basis for those in need. During the forum, Soap for Hope stations were set up for delegates to pour leftover soap into containers which would be distributed to Food from the Heart, MBS’ charity partner. Unconsumed bread from the event was also donated to Food from the Heart.

Challenges and triumphs

With a request for menus to be fully vegetarian for the event, the chef faced the challenge of having to create new sustainable menus with limited food supply options.

The weighing of food waste involved the MBS team working closely with the organisers to estimate attendee numbers at each meal, so as to limit wastage.

Event outcome

Through this forum, MBS became the first MICE facility in Singapore to adopt the Singapore Tourism Board’s recently announced sustainability guidelines for the MICE industry. Sustainability Showcase Asia chairman, Ken Hickson, thought RBF was a great platform to communicate principles of sustainability, where everyone was working towards achieving improvement with the same end goal in mind.

“Sustainability is an ongoing process and I hope more organisations will come on board to adopt the ISO20121 management system standard in their events.”