Reducing the Environmental Impact of the Madrid Conference

Three ways for all conference attendees to limit the negative environmental impact of the IH Director’s Conference in Madrid

We are delighted to have the opportunity to meet our friends and colleagues for the first face-to-face IH Director’s conference since Catania in 2019. 

At the same time we can’t ignore the negative environmental impact that travelling to and gathering in Madrid will have.  Using the framework of the IH Environmental Sustainability Review, we are planning a number of environmentally sustainable actions during the conference. Some of these are summarised at the end of this article, and you’ll hear more about them during the conference.  

But what does this mean now for all attendees? We are asking you do just three things as you plan your trip.

  1. If you fly, consider carbon offsetting your flight. If you live close enough, consider travelling by train.
  2. Bring a conference bag from a past IH Director’s Conference. Do you have a bag from Cordoba 2003, Cairo 2010 or Dubai 2014? (We won’t be providing new ones)
  3. Please bring your own water bottle, re-useable coffee cups and pens to eliminate disposable single use plastic waste.

Reduce the impact of your travel

The biggest environmental impact will come from our combined travel. What can we do?

  • If you live close enough, consider taking a train. Travelling by train has a significantly lower carbon footprint than air travel.
  • If that is not possible, consider carbon offsetting your flight. IHWO will be doing this for the travel for the IHWO team.

Carbon offsetting is effectively paying for something that uses up an equal amount of carbon that your flight puts into the atmosphere – such as planting a tree. This practice is not without controversy, but it’s generally accepted that carbon offsetting projects are beneficial to some extent. If you want to carbon offset, you should choose certified organisations, who verify that the offsets are monitored for their effectiveness. You can usually pay through your airline when booking, and these should be reputable schemes. See more discussion of carbon offsetting in this blog.

Re-use and recycle

Please re-use a conference bag from a past event. We won’t be providing any new ones. Do you have one from Cordoba 2003, Cairo 2010 or Dubai 2014? We’ll be holding a “Conference Bag Red Carpet Event” at some point (more details to follow), so dig deep in your cupboards for your best and oldest ones!

Reduce single use disposable items

To reduce single use plastics, we are asking that every conference attendee brings their own re-useable water bottle, re-useable coffee cup and pens.  We will provide every delegate with a notebook, but please bring your own pens. We have asked the hotel not to supply unnecessary pens and paper.  


What else are IHWO planning for the conference to reduce its environmental impact?

These are just some of the things that we are planning throughout the conference:

  • We’ll have some sessions on environmental sustainability in the conference programme
  • We are working with the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at IH Madrid to do something positive for their local community
  • We are using a local Madrid social enterprise company which employs disabled and disadvantaged people to produce the conference notebooks
  • We are going to be encouraging you to use public transport and walk around the city as much as possible.
  • We are asking the hotel and restaurants to prioritise local and seasonal produce where possible
  • We are asking for the environmental policy for the hotel, event restaurants and all our sponsors.
  • We’ll try and open windows in the hotel conference room rather than using air conditioners, and we’ll ask the hotel not to switch on outside space heaters.
  • We’re recommending that everybody re-uses hotel towels and avoids having their bedding changed too frequently – while still maintaining good hygiene of course!