Leuven served as the perfect backdrop for the 5th Global Food Security Conference.

Amidst pressing global challenges, Leuven's allure lies in its commitment to fostering resilience and sustainability. Elsevier's recent conference in Leuven showcased innovative measures aimed at achieving net-zero emissions by 2040.

From prioritizing sustainable transportation to serving locally sourced vegetarian meals, every aspect was meticulously planned to align with environmental objectives. Delegate feedback highlighted Leuven's stunning architecture, safety, and pedestrian-friendly layout.

From the 9th to the 12th of April, the 5th Global Food Security Conference convened in Leuven.

The conference aims to address urgent challenges facing our food systems. Increasing pressures on planetary boundaries and natural resources, coupled with the triple burden of malnutrition, demand healthier and more sustainable diets. Recent crises like climate events, COVID-19, and conflicts highlight the need for resilience in food systems.

This conference aims to catalyze change by bringing together stakeholders from science, business, and policy to improve health and environmental outcomes and enhance resilience. Drawing on the momentum of the UN Food System Summit and with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in sight, it's a crucial moment to drive action for a fairer and more equitable food future.

Leuven Convention Bureau engaged with
Nicola Marsh, senior Conference Project Lead at Elsevier UK and
Amy Hill, senior Conference Project Developer

on Leuven as a conference destination and Elsevier’s ambitious mission to minimizing the environmental impact of their conferences and work towards becoming net zero by no later than 2040!

How has Elsevier's recent conference in Leuven demonstrated its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2024, and what specific measures were implemented to reduce the event's carbon footprint?

In our mission to achieve net zero by 2040, our recent conference in Leuven showcased a series of impactful measures aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. One significant focus was on transportation, where we emphasized the importance of sustainable travel methods for speakers and delegates. By announcing the conference well in advance, we empowered attendees to plan their journeys thoughtfully, encouraging them to consolidate meetings and conferences to minimize their overall travel impact. Leuven, as our chosen destination, facilitated this approach, boasting excellent accessibility by train from both the airport and various European cities.

Catering played a crucial role in our sustainability efforts, with a commitment to serving exclusively vegetarian meals, except for the conference dinner. Our menu was carefully curated to be low carbon, prioritizing locally sourced ingredients while completely eliminating beef—a notable contributor to carbon emissions. Additionally, we minimized printing to the bare essentials, opting for local printing services to reduce transportation emissions.

When selecting our venue, sustainability was a key criterion. We scrutinized each option for their implementation of sustainable practices, ensuring alignment with our environmental objectives. Looking ahead, we aim to quantify the carbon emissions associated with each conference, utilizing a comprehensive questionnaire to benchmark our progress and inform future decisions.

Within Elsevier, our commitment to sustainability extends beyond individual events. We are rolling out a company-wide carbon credit scheme, demonstrating our genuine dedication to reducing our environmental impact. By aligning with our delegates' sustainable goals, we aim to support and empower them on their own journeys toward sustainability.

Through these concerted efforts, we seek not only to talk the talk but also to walk the walk, establishing ourselves as leaders in genuine environmental stewardship, free from the trappings of greenwashing.

Does Elsevier’s conference planning nurture other Sustainable Development Goals?

By prioritizing accessibility and equity, we not only align with our commitment to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but we also enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of our conferences. One key aspect of this commitment is our dedication to facilitating delegates with disabilities, such as hearing impairment. In our meeting rooms, we provide hearing loops to ensure that all participants can fully engage with the discussions and presentations.

Moreover, our efforts extend to promoting gender equality, particularly in the selection of speakers for our conferences. By actively seeking diverse voices and perspectives, we not only contribute to SDG 5 (Gender Equality) but also enrich the dialogue and insights shared during our events.

The impact of these initiatives is tangible in the feedback we receive from delegates. By nurturing an environment that values accessibility and diversity, we create a more inclusive and rewarding experience for all participants.

Did your delegates share any feedback on Leuven as a host city?

Our delegates have been talking to us about Leuven and had some really positive things to say.

Our director, who hasn't been to Leuven before, found it to be a stunning city with beautiful architecture. It feels incredibly safe, and one of the things I appreciate is how easy it is to get around on foot. It's not overly large, with plenty of open spaces and parks. There aren't too many cars or tall buildings, which adds to its charm.

Leuven, as our chosen destination, facilitated our sustainability approach, boasting excellent accessibility by train from both the airport and various European cities.

- Amy Hill, senior Conference Project Developer at Elsevier