Green meets in Spain

1 Jun 2024 by BusinessTraveller
Long modern bridge with high speed rail amidst green lush trees and forested mountain on sunny summer day in Spain ( Carne Sanchez)

Want to host an eco-friendly event? Spain boasts a host of sustainable initiatives, from planet-conscious transport solutions to digital platforms that help organisers manage their carbon footprint.

When it comes to events, schedules may mostly be digital these days, but meetings can still create a lot of waste, be that discarded pamphlets and itineraries or leftover finger food and buffet items. Factor in transport to and from the venue and a few nights in a hotel and the event’s carbon footprint can easily begin to soar.

To minimise environmental impact while hosting an event, good public transport is key. Spain boasts the second most extensive and advanced high speed train network in the world after China, the Alta Velociade Espanola (AVE). Spanning 3,240km and with trains that can operate at speeds of up to 310km per hour, it offers rapid connections between major cities, connecting Madrid with Barcelona, Seville, Leon, Alicante, Malaga and Valencia. There are also AVE services to and from Fance, and travellers from Paris can reach Barcelona in six-and-a-half hours.

Saint Mary's Square and Valencia cathedral temple in old town (

Eco-friendly regions

City by city, region by region, Spain is steadfastly proving its commitment to sustainability. The country’s third-largest municipality, Valencia, became the first city in the world to verify and certify the carbon footprint of its tourist activity in 2020, and is committed to achieving carbon-neutral tourism activity by 2025. 

In 2022, the Balearic Islands, which include Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, passed a law that requires all businesses on the islands to implement circular economy measures. These emphasise reuse, recycling and local production to tackle waste and utilising renewable energy sources such as solar panels to drive down carbon emissions. 

The Canary Islands largest and most populous isle, Tenerife, is the first destination globally to implement a Tourism AI Master Plan plan to enhance travellers’ experiences through knowledge enhancement and improved security. In a further bid to demonstrate its commitment to planet-friendly practices, the Tenerife Tourism authorities signed the Glasgow Pact in 2022, committing its tourism sector to a 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030.  

View of San Andres village and Las Teresitas beach, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain ( Dorin)

Green venues

Spain’s meeting spaces have embraced eco-friendly initiatives to ensure events are sustainable. The Seville Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES), for instance, has installed a solar panel system to harness renewable energy, introduced an environmental education programme for event attendees to highlight environmental issues and rolled out a green procurement policy. The Malaga Exhibition and Conference Centre, meanwhile, promotes sustainable transport options like cycling and public transport and offers dedicated bike lanes and parking areas for delegates. 

Over in the capital, Madrid’s Marriott Auditorium Hotel & Conference Centre earned LEED Gold certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) thanks to initiatives including sourcing organic and locally-produced food to reduce food miles and support the local economy. 

To further promote green practices, the Madrid Convention Bureau has introduced a digital platform, PLUS, which generates customised sustainability reports for each meeting held in the Spanish capital. PLUS additionally features a CO2 calculator so organisers can accurately calculate the carbon footprint of their events, from design and preparation to takedown. 

Organisers and delegates looking for a sustainable stay with a difference can consider booking into the country’s state-run hotel network, Paradores, which are located in historic city centres or natural viewpoints and include Moorish castles, converted monasteries and manor houses. Paradores have been instrumental in driving the sustainable transformation of the hospitality sector by promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources across its entire network, while offsetting excess CO2 emissions. All electricity consumed across its hotels is 100 per cent renewable, and since 2019, single-use plastic has been eliminated from bedrooms, as have plastic straws, bottles and tableware.

With a raft of environmentally-conscious policies in place across conference centres and hotels and an excellent public transport system, Spain is helping meeting planners ensure their events are truly sustainable.

The cover of the Business Traveller June 2024 edition
The cover of the Business Traveller June 2024 edition
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