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Nobody ever suggested that turning the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, which brought more than 100 000 visitors to the city of Malmö (Sweden), into a sustainable event would be simple.

Making Eurovision sustainable was no easy feat. There are food and beverages to consider, transport, energy, waste disposal and much more. But Susanna Winblad, a project manager for the City of Malmö, took on the challenge, armed with just ISO 20121 and the belief that doing the right thing should be easy. The result : a positive and inspiring experience. Here she shares with us her tips, lessons learned and other useful titbits.

ISOfocus : Why did Eurovision decide to use ISO 20121 ?

Susanna : We felt that it was an opportunity for the City of Malmö to enhance its profile as a green destination. The standard was a tool that would help us highlight sustainability issues in our communication with partners and procurement services.

Can you describe some of the initiatives taken ?

In Malmö we believe that doing the right thing should be easy, so we made acting sustainably stress-free for participants and staff with the following initiatives :

  • Transport that flows : we ensured free and easy public transportation for all delegates and the press, and encouraged visitors to take the train to the arena.
  • Ecolicious food : we served, recommended and promoted ecological and locally produced food.
  • Tippy tap water : we handed out refillable bottles to press and delegates, and made sure water taps were easily available in key locations
  • Recycle it : we made recycling easy for participants.
  • Education : we taught all volunteers (550 persons) about sustainability and how to become role models

What did you find to be the biggest challenge ?

It was hard to think of measurable goals when defining social and economic sustainability.

How many staff worked on the project?

I worked full time during the project and had an assistance who worked 20% on implementation.

What were the main results and impacts ?

I have not yet finished working it out, but here are a few examples :

  • Implementation of a new ticket system for public transport that helped avoid long queues and hassle
  • Development of a new recycling system for events, which we plan to re-use in the future
  • 80 000 cups of ecological and fair-trade coffee served
  • Use of refillable tap-water bottles, which have 1 000 times less impact on the environment than factory-bottled water.

Do you have any tips or advice for ISO 20121 users ?

Communication with all those involved is very important. And keep abreast of tasks delegated to others in the organization, for sustainability must always remain a core value in the project. Above all, don't aim too high, and celebrate your success!

Susanna Winblad
Project Manager
City of Malmö, Sweden

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