An association’s journey towards a more sustainable event

In 2011, members of the Family Business Network International (FBN) pledged to promote a business model to enable a sustainable future for workers, community, the environment and future generations. In 2014, the network introduced Polaris, a framework to deliver on the pledge. Today Polaris is a growing movement of family businesses focused on maximizing economic social and environmental impact. In line with this aspiration for Family Business to be a Global Force for Good, FBN is working to ensure that sustainability and positive impact is embedded into their work.

As a long-time partner of FBN, K.I.T. Group is working hard to respect this ideal and  make FBN’s  activities more sustainable, including their annual summit.  

In partnership with FBN,  K.I.T. Group’s sustainability experts identified three goals:

1/ Kick-start FBN’s journey towards a more sustainable event

2/ Measure the ecological impact of international events

3/ Share good practices with members

First, we defined the scope. These were nine categories: accommodation, agencies, audiovisual, catering, destination, marketing and communications, onsite, transportation and venue.

Then, we brainstormed on each category to identify good value, high impact green initiatives. We kept the most effective ones and named them “Sustainability highlights”.  Each initiative was implemented during FBN’s 28th annual Summit in Gran Canaria, Spain.

No more paper cups

FBN switched from disposable paper cups to re-usable glass cups to limit paper waste and avoid littering.

Meat-free lunches

Meat, and especially red meat has a strong negative impact on the environment. We decided to provide delegates with meat-free lunches at the conference (only fish and vegetables) to decrease the event’s ecological footprint.  On top of that, we requested half of all the ingredients to come from local producers. This reduced transport costs and transport emissions.

Sustainable signage

Paper signage generates a lot of waste. All the signs are printed to be used once. We chose to switch to digital signage and selected a venue that was already equipped. The benefits were threefold: no transportation cost, no paper waste, low energy cost.


FBN set-up a tree legacy project, during the conference, and planted 10 trees in Gran Canaria. Trees are essential to fight climate change as they release oxygen in the atmosphere, and greatly reduce the risk of floods by slowing down soil erosion.

Sustainable gifts

To avoid using disposable plastic bottles, FBN offered attendees attractive water bottles that can be re-used and carried everywhere. Disposable plastic bottles that end up in landfills take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Lanyards/Badge holder

53% of all lanyards/badge holders were recycled to be used at future FBN’s event.


The main takeaway of this project is that associations should include sustainability requirements when bidding for providers. This will allow the association to plan the event’s budget according to their sustainability goals and therefore find cheaper and more efficient ways to reduce emissions. 

Other things that could be done include developing a plan for recycling, developing a metric for energy use, building on a legacy project and developing a strategy to offset the Summit’s carbon emissions. 

This article inspired you to go green at your next event? We offer all our clients one hour, free of charge, with our sustainability experts.

Contact our sustainability team at and set your meetings on the path to sustainability.

Cover picture by Vlad Bagacian

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