Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Greening an event

For event organisers it is sometimes difficult to green an event, as so many of the factors are outside your control, such as guest’s carbon footprint in getting to the venue, the venue’s use of electricity and water and a lack of alternative transport modes in South Africa.

One way to offset the probable carbon footprint, is to team up with such organisations as Trees for Africa, Wildlands Conservation Trust, Earth Patrol, Climate Africa etc.

Here are some more steps you can take that will add to the overall ‘greening’ of an event and include the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

Accommodation and activities
Consult your local authority about accommodation and activities that promote green practices. Most cities can offer new ideas for guests that promote the environment and add to leisure pleasure.

·        Give preference to venues with a sound environmental policy

·        Work with the venue to ensure lights and air conditioning are switched off when not in use

·        Consider venues that use as much natural light and natural ventilation as possible

·        Ask for jugs of water with slices of lemon for delegates – South African tap water is perfectly drinkable and bottled water is a waste of natural resources, energy and a pollutant

·        Use local, in season food to support the economy and reduce transport

·        Select fish from sustainable fish supplies

·        Avoid unnecessary packaging and plastic bags

·        Where possible use bulk dispensers for sugar, salt, condiments and sauces.

·        Avoid individually wrapped sweets

·        Try to reduce the food wastage – is a three-course meal necessary at lunchtime?

·        If plastic and paper waste are generated, ensure the venue supplies separate bins for delegates to be active recyclers

·        Try using ‘living’ d├ęcor such as moss, stones and succulent plants. Send your decorations home with your guests at the end of the event or reuse them for another event

Printed material and information
·        Use new media and electronic technology to reduce paper use – SMS seating and registration details

·        Use electronic registration and market electronically via website and email

·        Collect and reuse name badges

·        Produce all relevant information, presentations, papers and web links via electronic media

·        If you do have to print – use recycled paper and print on both sides of the paper

·        Consider requesting guests to bring their own pens and notepads (most have notepads leftover from other events)

Finally, include the greening message at some stage in the proceedings to remind your guests how fragile the ecosystem is and how all can assist in greening the planet.

Our commitment
Litha Communications is a member of the Event Greening Forum and our CEO, Andile Ncontsa, is a board member of the forum.

We seek to offset the carbon footprint of our operations and take care to conduct our business in an environmentally responsible way. We offer our clients an opportunity to do the same by contributing a tree for every delegate that attends our events.

For this purpose, our NGO partner of choice is the Wildlands Conservation Trust. The Trust is working to conserve our region’s biodiversity through the development and facilitation of innovative solutions, which take into account the unique biodiversity assets of South Africa while sustainably meeting the socio-economic needs of current and future generations. Most importantly, they offer marginalised youth and women, new skills in new green industries that protect and preserve our heritage and the planet for future generations to come. For more information, go to www.wildlands.co.za.

We also contribute our time, talent and materials to Waste2Wow, a job creation design and manufacturing studio that recycles advertising banners and billboards, turning trash into creative and desirable eco-friendly “wow” items - www.waste2wow.co.za. 

We believe that enriching society and preserving our planet for future generations is not an option or a nice thing to do - it is a matter of necessity

For more greening ideas, go to http://eventgreening.co.za/resources/

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

There's more than just your interest at stake

The stakeholder of an event is any individual or organisation with an interest in the event. This is a vague definition but it does make sure that no one is forgotten. The stakeholder is someone who can influence the event in a significant way.

Most of the risks in events are directly related to the event stakeholders. The stakeholder's tolerance to risk will define many aspects of the level of risk that can be accepted by the event that is the event's tolerance to risk. For example:

·                 Investors in the event will be interested in the financial risk - the exposure they have because of their investment. They expect to make a profit. The level of this profit will set the tolerance of the financial risk of the event. This tolerance is a major input into the risk management process for an event. The fact that it may be difficult to measure should not mean that it is ignored.

·                 Sponsors of a cultural event such as an exhibition may not want certain types art works exhibited as it may reflect badly on their image. If their requirements are ignored the event could be cancelled.

·                 For a sporting event, there may be dangers well known and accepted by the competitors. However, if the risk goes beyond a certain limit they will not take part in the event.

The stakeholders can be categorised a number of ways: Not all stakeholders are positive – i.e. the local residents may not want roads closed during a cycle race, so they must be assessed as primary/secondary, internal/external; and positive/negative.

·                 Primary stakeholders - those who are very focused on the success or otherwise of the event, for example the attendees or a sponsor. These stakeholders will require constant management, reporting or other communication

·                 Secondary Stakeholders - those who will only be interested in the event if it passes a threshold of importance i.e. the local police

·                 Internal Stakeholders - those that are involved in the event planning and implementation of the plan such as the event committee

·                 External Stakeholders - those who are not directly part of the event but still have a strong interest in it - such as the local residents, banks or sponsors

·                 Positive/Negative - the effect of the event on the stakeholder i.e. positive - such as the sponsors or negative - such as competitive events

Forgetting to pay attention to any one of these groups can threaten the success of the event.

These are not mutually exclusive categories and they may change over the life cycle of the event. An external primary stakeholder such as the road traffic authority can move from being positive towards the event to negative very quickly if proper monitoring is not used.

Next, find out how to treat the risks you have now identified

Monday, 18 June 2012

Meeting time or jail time, it's up to you

One of the most vital requirements of a successful event is communication so that everyone knows what his or her role is, how it must be performed and why it is needed. Effective communication is created through meetings. Ideally, the organiser should have at least one risk management meeting with all parties involved. 

Meeting suggestions
·        Staff – can you and your staff answer all the questions on the recommended checklists? Does the staff understand ‘duty of care’, do they all know the chain of command in emergencies?

·        Venue – they know their own venue and its constraints – it is in their best interest to be up front about possible hazards, otherwise they could be charged with negligence. Ask them about past problems or snags

·        Suppliers – it is vital that you take and assess the advice of people who go to events all the time. That means your suppliers. They are the people who deliver the chairs, prepare the food, build the stage and other contractors. They have seen lots disasters and unless they are asked, they will often keep their own counsel

·        EMS, fire & police – identify trigger points ie rival teams, access for emergency vehicles, traffic problems,  local fire regulations

·        The client- The five event questions - who, what, when, why, and where now become essential. The preliminary client meeting should have provided the answers to all these questions to develop the how of the event. Look back at them and make sure no parameters have changed

·        Others - raise risk issues at event committee and volunteer meetings. Asking for their opinion also creates a feeling of the importance of risk. Legally, you and the event committee have a duty of care to all the people associated with the event

Speaking of legality, what are the current national, provincial and local laws governing this kind of event. Have there been any unfavourable court decisions recently that could affect the outcomes of your event? Are there firm contracts in place? Are all other applicable laws being observed ie relating to scaffolding, stage erection, marquee placement and layout?

Meet with your insurance broker – discuss insured and non-insured issues and what is necessary and what is affordable

Always remember that loss does not only include loss of life or injury but also loss of property and reputation and reputation is the hardest to regain.

Send your enquiries or questions to teresa@lithacommunications.co.za

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Why celebrate World Environment Day - make it the year

When we see or experience the negative effects of climate change and environmental degradation it is easy to blame others, but what are we doing to make a difference? World Environment Day on 5 June is one day we put aside our differences and celebrate the achievements we have made towards protecting the environment.

We remind ourselves and others of the importance of caring for our environment. But remember that every action counts, so join us for the year, not just a day.

The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

World Environment Day this year will complement this global concern with the official tagline – ‘Green Economy: Does it include you?’

This year is also the 40th anniversary for World Environment Day, since the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972.

In this significant year for the environment and sustainable development, the world leaders will once again meet at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development twenty years after the historic Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 1992. Dubbed Rio+20, one of its main themes is ‘a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication’.

Green economy – your actions count
The Green Economy touches almost every aspect of our lives and concerns our development. For example, it is about sustainable energy, green jobs, low carbon economies, green policies, green buildings, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, industry, energy efficiency, sustainable tourism, sustainable transport, waste management, water efficiency and all other resource efficiency. These are all elements involved in the successful implementation of a green economy.

The theme is a proposal for an alternative and far more sustainable way of doing business. It highlights that the Green Economy as an essential rethink to the way we do business, if we are to create a brighter future.

However, more importantly, the theme accentuates the fact that ‘you’ are an important element to its success and invites you to evaluate whether the steps taken by the government, private sector, civil society and community in your area, ‘include you.’

The UN Environment Programme defines the Green Economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy is one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

Business tourism
As conferences, events and exhibitions organisers, we are committed to green events and we would like to share some of the United Nations’ thoughts on tourism.

Tread lightly on your travel destinations
Tourism can be great for local economies, but not if it results in negative environmental and social impacts. The same principles apply to supporting a Green Economy both at home and afar - buy local, travel with others, limit water and energy use, etc. When you support ecotourism, you help the communities in your travel destinations achieve economic growth without sacrificing environmental and social well-being.

Green tourism has the potential to create new, green jobs. Travel and tourism are human-resource intensive, employing directly and indirectly 8% of the global workforce.  It is estimated that one job in the core tourism industry creates about one and a half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism related economy.

The greening of tourism, which involves efficiency improvements in energy, water and waste systems, is expected to reinforce the employment potential of the sector with increased local hiring and sourcing and significant opportunities in tourism oriented toward local culture and the natural environment.

Waste investing in the greening of tourism can reduce the cost of energy, water and waste and enhance the value of biodiversity, ecosystems and cultural heritage. Investment in energy efficiency has been found to generate significant returns within a short payback period. Improving waste management is expected to save money for tourism businesses, create jobs and enhance the attractiveness of destinations. The investment requirement in conservation and restoration is small relative to the value of the areas that provide ecosystem services essential for the foundation of economic activities and for human survival; the value of ecosystems for tourists remains undervalued in many cases.

If everything you buy becomes waste, where will we put it all? Throwing something away means losing the chance to reuse materials and can contribute to methane (the most potent greenhouse gas) emissions from landfills. Electronics in particular are only recycled at a rate of 15% globally. Recycling appropriate materials and composting food waste reduces the impact of landfills as well as the demand on our natural resources to produce more materials. Learn about recycling opportunities in your community and support a more resource-efficient Green Economy.

Cultural heritage
This concept is of enormous importance to us at Litha Communications and to South Africa as a whole. The country has eight of the world’s sites and these represent a tourism opportunity and a challenge. The UN has more to say on this matter.

Investment in cultural heritage—the largest single component of consumer demand for sustainable tourism—is among the most significant and usually profitable investments. Under a green economy investment scenario, tourism makes a larger contribution to GDP growth, while significant environmental benefits include reductions in water consumption (18%), energy use (44%) and CO2 emissions (52%), compared with business as usual.

The largest single component of consumer demand for more sustainable tourism is for cultural authenticity. This includes living cultures, both mainstream and minority, as well as historical, religious, and archaeological sites. Tourism can offer opportunities for continuation, rejuvenation or enhancement of traditions and a way of life.

Culture is rarely static, and linking tourism and cultural survival may bring benefits as well as changes and challenges for a community to address. The possible socio-cultural costs and benefits of tourism to a vulnerable culture are rarely quantified. Tourism projects need to include a programme to monitor economic and cultural benefits so that vulnerable cultures can assess and manage the impacts of tourism on their communities.

Aside from the intangible benefits, most commentators believe that investment in cultural heritage is among the most significant and usually profitable investments a society, or tourism sector, can make.
Benefits of cultural heritage tourism
Sustainability drivers
Likely implications
  • Tourist preference for experiences that involve contact
  • with authentic cultural landscapes
  • Expectations from guests that their tourism operators respect and protect traditional culture
  • Increased awareness of World Heritage Sites
  • Recognition and appreciation for cultural diversity
  • Respect and recognition of traditional culture, particularly in context of assimilation into a dominant culture
  • Help community members to validate their culture, especially when external influences of modern life cause the young to become disassociated from traditional life and practices
  • Conservation of traditional lands and natural resources on which the culture has traditionally relied
  • Help to reduce poverty within a community or cultural group
  • Increased opportunities for young to remain in community instead of seeking alternative opportunities in cities and towns
  • Meet the needs of cultural groups, such as health care, access to clean water, education, employment and income
  • Reduced risk of losing unique cultural attributes
Keep our world breathing, keep it green

Friday, 25 May 2012

Individualising your risk management plan

How do you find out what are the risks in planning and running an event? Well the worst thing to do is to ask only yourself - if you knew all the risks, you would already have them under control. A key component to a successful event is research, with it you can ascertain all sorts of useful information such as:

·        Has the event been run before? If so, what problems arose last time?
·        If it has not been run before, who has run one similar?
·        Can you phone them, email them or research it on the Net to find out what the risks were?
·        Are there any checklists on the Net that would assist you with this event?

These are the 5 factors any event organiser must take into account while planning an event:
  • Perils : These are natural causes of disaster – i.e. storms, floods, high winds, hail etc. These are sometimes predictable and preventable. Consult the weather bureau for probable trends
  • Hazards: These are predictable and preventable – i.e. loose cables, open manholes etc
  • Vulnerabilities:  - When the nature of the event opens up the organisers to risk through the nature of the event i.e. mass protest at economic summits or strikes during typical periods
  • Threats: - These refer to bombs, specific strikes or other threats against the event – these should be predictable and preventable.
The PESTLE system is also a good way to establish potential risks before they arise:
  • Political:  -  Does the event have national or local political impact? Could there be clashes between supporters?
  • Economic:  - Is this a good time to run such an event? Do supporters have the money to attend? What else could clash?
  • Social:  - Does the event affect any particular social group?
  • Technological: - Does the event rely heavily on technology? Is there guarantee of continual supply of power?
  • Legal: - Have all national, provincial and local laws been identified and obeyed?
  • Environmental: - What is the impact of the event on the environment? Have adequate plans for waste disposal, water usage and toilets been considered?
All events carry unique risks including large crowds, complex event activities, and an almost certain need for improvisation and last minute decisions which must be assessed in relation to your particular event. However improvisation and last minute decisions are what makes the job of an event organiser interesting and you will learn to take them in your stride.

We will discuss Risk analysis in our next piece, so stay tuned. Send enquries or questions to teresa@lithacommunications.co.za

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Risk management for event organisers - Part 2

What is risk management?

Risk management is about predictions and prevention and is the measure of the probability and consequence of not achieving a defined event goal. It is a logical and systematic method to reduce the risks associated with any activity, function or process in an event.

Risk management minimises loss and maximises opportunity – it should be remembered that loss does not only include loss of life or injury but also loss of property and reputation.

Duty of Care
All existing and proposed South African laws concerning the events industry revolve around the one Common Law principle of ‘Duty of Care’. Organisers are required to show that they exercised Duty of Care to participants’ lives, health and property

In the case of loss, Courts essentially ask two questions:
                 Was incident predictable
                 Could it have been prevented

The Judge then applies the ‘Reasonable Man’s’ test and if the answer is ‘yes’ to the questions, then liability has occurred and the law takes the view that the event organiser is the one who is liable, as he or she has been paid by a client for a professional service. If the answer is ‘no’, then risk management has been successfully applied.

Risk Management Models
The old model of pressure was for everyone to push responsibility to the event organiser and the event organiser to take out insurance. The problem with this was that it assumed that all risks could be insured; had no understanding of wrongdoing; and worked on the hope of the ignorance of the public who would not claim against the organisers.

The new model works on consultation with all stakeholders and a Risk Management plan that uses insurance as only one of the options to provide risk cover.

Event management includes risk management
Finding the risks and controlling them is essential in getting together a safe and successful event. With the complexity of modern events, the current legal system and the requirements of the event’s stakeholders, the event manager has to undertake risk management systematically and make sure that there is documentary proof of every step.

As an event manager, you have already created a process for running events; now all you have to do is transfer that process to risk management. Though there is a multi-risk focus, it is only a single process.

Risk management must be considered before the selection of suppliers, staff and communication, as the risk profile of the event will dictate these choices. Therefore, risk management results differ for each event.

5 basic questions
Evaluation begins with answering the five basic question of events management from a perspective of risk.

                 Who is coming? Crowds vary in nature and a small gathering should be safer than a large one, but look at the delegates’ profile in context. In the same stadium, football crowds could be more unruly than concert goers

                 What is the event? Corporate dinners carry far less risk than a cup final. Cocktail parties carry less risk than 3-day exhibitions

                 When is the event? Does the time of day add traffic stress to the equation? Is this an outdoor marquee in August (high wind factors)? Will storm conditions alter the event’s success? If it is very cold, do heating arrangements add a fire risk?

                 Where is the event being held – the venue can add risk if it is not geared for high crowds, massive surges, traffics problems, crime prevention etc. Perhaps the venue is remote – are there toilet facilities, drinkable water, can trucks access the site for setup, is there power or does it have to be provided?

                 Why is the event being held? This relates to risk management around the client’s requirements and expectations and in turn his or her client’s expectations. This can include profit from an event, favourable media comment, ticket sales, happy delegates.
Now you have the how, the next step is more in-depth risk assessment in Part 3.

If you have any questions, email Teresa@lithacommunications.co.za.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Managing your event risk before you risk your event - Part 1

Risk management is an important and integral part of the overall management of any event. The safety of participants, spectators and all those involved in organising and running the event should be paramount to the organisation of the event.

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing the concepts of risk management and look forward to your comments and queries.

Introducing risk management
Risk management must always be considered before the selection of suppliers, staff and communication, as the risk profile will dictate these choices. Therefore, risk management results differ for each event.

Any company that thinks risk management is not important to events simply needs to recall some of the less than successful events in the past like the National Woman’s Day disaster or the Zoo Lake drowning. In each of these events, the event manager or the subcontractors hired by the event manager could have been held criminally and civilly liable for the results of the disaster that occurred.

You need to develop a risk management plan for your specific event, as one risk management plan does not fit all sizes. However all risk management plans have seven specific stages that may be more or less complex depending on the event:

1.            Establish context of event

2.            Identify risks and risk owners

3.            Analyse risks in respect of likelihood and consequence

4.            Evaluate options and treatment to reduce or remove high risks

5.            Implement and communicate risk management plan to stakeholders

6.            Monitor risk management process

7.            Evaluate success or failure

This forms the basis of the risk management manual, a living document that must be referred to throughout the event process. However, once you have done the first Risk Management plan, the next one becomes easier as the process becomes more understandable.

Next week – establishing context

Monday, 16 April 2012

Green scene is the place to be seen

Litha Communications is once again showing its commitment to sustainability and its dedication to the protection of the environment by participating in the South African Green Office Week campaign (GOW), which runs from 16-20 April 2012. The campaign began in the UK with a vision to encourage:
  • Organisations to start seeing themselves as Eco-friendly Workplaces and develop green office practices and policies 
  • Management to implement and maintain sustainable practices into their workplaces 
  • Workers to take a look at the daily routines and realize the economic benefits of reducing waste.
This year’s theme is “You make a difference” and the  company is taking it to heart with a  go green plan that will incorporate intense and top of mind new clean, green action each day.

Daily themes
Based on this year’s daily themes, the company plans to do the following:

·        Monday 16 April: Make a difference by finding more ways to save on printing- Printing on both sides of the paper. If you fail plant a tree for every 20 pages printed

·        Tuesday 17 April: make a difference by finding more ways to save on lighting- Switch lights off in offices and meeting rooms that are not being used.

·        Wednesday 18 April: Make a difference by finding ways to drive green- Go easy on the air conditioner as it uses more fuel.

·        Thursday 19 April: Make a difference by looking for ways to recycle more- Cut scrap paper and bull-clip it to use as a notepad or cut in quarters and use as post-it like notes

·        Friday 20 April: Make a difference by sharing a green tip with colleagues and clients- At the bottom of your emails include a green message such as: Think twice before you print this email.

“These are simple and quick tips that can reduce the carbon footprint we are creating, the idea of eco-living and green offices are not new concepts at Litha but we are glad to see this is becoming a global movement,” says Teresa Jenkins COO of Litha Communications

 “The greatest gift we can give to the children of the future is to take care of the present”- Unknown