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As it fulfilled its first sustainability mission, which included the help of dedicated leaders to pull it off, International Federation of Exhibition & Event Services’ (IFES) conference needs were met by South Africa, a country that values its natural resources.

“South Africans are close to their land as a culture. The location added to the conference’s success,” said Gloria Guevara, executive director, IFES. “I know of seven projects that came out of business interactions through IFES.” Connecting people from around the globe, IFES helps its members build partnerships.

Held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) – IFES’ venue of choice that shares its need to be sustainable – the IFES 2013 World Summit allowed 100 international delegates to descend on Cape Town from June 27-29.

Providing South Africa’s first green transport solution to IFES attendees was the Green Cab. This woman owned and operated business features taxis that run on liquefied petroleum gas, which has 87 percent less ozone depleting potential.

“We planned the whole event with sustainability in mind, even the tours delegates took and Green Cab services,” added Guevara.

Sustainable parking

Sustainable parking

As part of the conference social program, IFES attendees toured the Cape Winelands, a region in the south of South Africa where many wine farms are located. Donald Svehla, publisher of Exhibit City News, immediately spotted sustainable practices, such as a parking lot that used white powder to separate parking spots rather than black tar.

Dispatched two years ago to help organize this green Summit for exposition designers and providers of tradeshow services, Justin Hawes, managing director of Scan Display and annual meeting chairperson for IFES, worked to highlight his home country.

“For [Hawes], it was important to show the services of South Africa. There was a lot of personal engagement from him and need to show the same level of service as other countries,” said Guevara.

Not only did Hawes help IFES implement its sustainability goals, but his company won the Sustainability Award, an honor presented by IFES to businesses that have demonstrated green principles.

“It was meaningful that we were given this award at the first IFES conference to adopt sustainable practices,” said Hawes. “It was also wonderful to share my country’s beauty and warm hospitality with the delegates.”

Hawes and his team were also praised for the amount of work they put into organizing the conference.

“It was a fantastic welcome and hosting from CTICC and the team at Scan Display,” said Simon Burton, managing director, Exposure Communications. “I thought the opportunities our industry offers for international business really began to manifest themselves very strongly at the event.”

Burton acted as chairman of the convention. He gave a presentation on 10 trends affecting modern businesses and helped IFES encourage the more than 80 delegates who flew on 12-hour flights or longer to voluntarily offset their travel-related carbon footprint by purchasing raffle tickets.

“One 12-hour flight from the Netherlands would cost 48 trees,” explained Guevara.

Tree planting

Tree planting

After attendees bought 151 tickets, proceeds went to Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA), which addresses greening, climate change action, food security, sustainable water and soil use and management. FTFA will plant trees in communities throughout South Africa.

“Because there is a lot of pollution in urban areas, trees are planted in cities not forests,” said Guevara. “A tree was planted at a community center that has after school programs and is an orphanage. The community center wants to be more green.”

Participants in the raffle drawing were offered a chance to win a delegate pass to the IFES 2014 World Summit in Delhi, India. The prize went to Stephan Hartmann of Neumann & Müller. While he is not an IFES member, as he was attending the neighboring AV Alliance meeting at CTICC, Hartmann networked with many IFES members.

“Because of many similarities, the heads of both organizations decided to work a day together and to have coffee,” said Hartmann. “As a member of an event company from Germany, it makes sense to be part of IFES, and I appreciate the opportunity to go to India.”

Justin Hawes will be joining five others on the annual meeting committee for India, which has the 10th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and a prospering exhibition industry. In 2012, 650 tradeshows were held, and Delhi along with Mumbai account for more than 50 percent of the exhibitions held in India.

“India is going to be very exciting – culturally and hospitality wise. We want to make sure our members identify the differences in business there,” said Guevara.

Expected in May 2014, the next Summit will offer delegates long-term opportunities. They will learn about the growth of retail displays, technology investments, India’s exhibition labor and equipment as well as share knowledge and conduct business.

See related article: “IFES to promote sustainability at its 2013 World Summit”

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