Sustainability: From Strategy to Successful Implementation at ESPID 2023

At Kenes Group we are delighted to present the results of the 41st Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases – ESPID 2023, with 3,812 participants from 127 countries (2,928 in person).

The Sustainability Strategy designed and implemented at this scientific conference is both a milestone and a turning point for our Professional Conference Organiser – PCO.


  • Educate ESPID delegates and exhibitors about new sustainable best practices in collaboration with ESPID Sustainability Committee.
  • Introduction of various sustainability initiatives (environmental, economic and social) for ESPID 2023 delegates.
  • Focus on waste management and waste avoidance; ensure good waste sorting practices.
  • Minimize food waste and support leftover food donations.
  • Measure ESPID environmental Footprint and decrease carbon emissions as much as possible.

Key challenges of the event

Our company’s Sustainability Policy aims to contribute to four SDGs. We identified two main challenges, specifically related to SDG #12 – Responsible consumption and production.

Challenge: Events’ exhibitions generate large amounts of waste, including production materials and food.

  • Solution: We created a one-of-a-kind waste management strategy in collaboration with the Centro de Congressos de Lisboa – CCL, the destination, catering supplier, and both a local recycling company and a non-profit organisation to minimize the environmental impact.

Challenge: Long-distance flights and other transport have an enormous carbon footprint.

  • Solution: Educating participants about eco-friendly options, checking with the airlines if they have sustainable practices in place and use biofuel which has a less negative impact on the environment, and offering different incentives to delegates that travelled by train instead of booking flights, use only public transportation and walk to the venue.


We developed different ideas to contribute to the SDGs:

#3 – Good health and well-being: healthy food served and a morning run as part of the programme.

#5 – Gender equality: monitoring of non-discrimination among delegates, speakers and committee members and a programme that features diverse topics and speakers from various backgrounds.

#4 – Quality Education: workshops for early careers professionals, encouraging audience participation through Awards and a virtual conference alternative.

#12 – Responsible consumption and production: prioritising the virtual platform to disseminate information as well as e-posters, encouraging exhibitors to reduce single-use giveaways, and badge recycling.

We also introduced of a new session, very unique for medical congresses, called “Towards Zero Waste: Active participation”, delivered at ESPID by a local non-profit, to educate doctors and medical practitioners about waste management in the medical field, hospitals as well as at their homes.


For ESPID 2023 we used a Sustainability Measurement Platform called Trace by Isla, which enabled us to measure the carbon footprint by categories. This is the first time we have implemented carbon emission measurement at one of our events, therefore ESPID 2023 was our pilot project.

Other ways in which we innovated in terms of sustainability:


  • One meatless meal during the congress and a general increase in plant-based options.
  • Collection of lunch requests from attendees in advance.
  • Installation of water fountains to encourage delegates to use their own bottles and coffee cups, also provided by the event.
  • No use of cutlery.
  • Food donations.


  • Go paperless, use the mobile app for communications and incentive exhibitors to print less or no promotional material.
  • Ensure good waste sorting practices by the venue during the teardown of the event site.
  • Donate reusable items such as clothing, decorations, fabrics, etc.
  • Recyclable or reusable materials for signage and banners.


The execution of a full sustainability strategy that included a first-time management waste implementation was possible thanks our solid relationship with the Society and their commitment to ensuring sustainable practices.

The strategy was developed by our recently appointed Sustainability Officer Elena Fis who worked previously, during and after the event with both the client and the other partners making the strategy possible. Elena Fis attended in person as part of our staff team to ensure that the best execution of the strategy was delivered, being the first time a Sustainability Officer was appointed to supervise one of our conferences.

The rest of the Kenes Group team and the project manager, the Society’s Sustainability Committee, exhibitors, and venue employees were highly involved in the execution of the strategy. Everyone was briefed and given specific tasks to deliver, such as arranging with suppliers and sorting materials.

Measurable results

What were the results in relation to the project targets and the funds invested, and evaluation of the added value (Return on Investment – ROI):

  • Educating and engaging delegates and exhibitors about new sustainable best practices in collaboration with ESPID sustainability committee.
  • Introducing various sustainability initiatives for ESPID to 202 delegates through mailshots, onsite and virtually.
  • Successful measurement of ESPID environmental Footprint with total and per categories emissions calculations.
  • Successfully implementing sustainability and waste management strategy introduced specifically for this event.
  • Introduction of a special new session “Towards zero waste: active participation” attended by 72 delegates.
  • 1,672 meals donated, this corresponds to 412 kg of food, maximum food waste avoided.
  • Reduced cutlery use and Zero use of single-use plastic for meals.
  • One Meatless meal during the congress
  • Paperless meeting – mobile app and less printed materials
  • Promotion and full support of gender equality – ESPID had more women on the ESPID board – 6 female and 5 male – Speakers: 35 female and 44 male.


The sustainability strategy as ESPID was widely communicated multi-channel, leading to a dedicated page on the conference website where participants could find all the relevant information about the Sustainable Development Goals supported and how we aimed to do so.

  • Website:
  • We mainly used Twitter (X) to communicate on social media. To speak directly to the attendees, we used the mobile app with push notifications, mailshot, and our virtual conference alternative platform VirtuOz.
  • The local non-profit organisation in charge of delivering the session “Towards Zero Waste: Active Participation” engaged in cross-promotion of their activities.
  • A report on the results has been drafted by our Sustainability Officer and ESPID Sustainability Committee and it will also be communicated to the relevant audience through press releases and case studies.

The Sustainability strategy was also selected as a finalist at the Conventa Best Event Awards 2023 and introduced to the audience at the Conventa Crossover, Festival of Events and Marketing in Ljubjlana, Slovenia, on August 28 2023. 

The use of sustainable practices

The strategy comprises one of the largest investments we have made in sustainability as it allowed us to create the process of educating and engaging all the relevant parties and stakeholders, including ESPID Sustainability Committee, destination, venue and its’ suppliers, the Kenes team and local staff.

We experienced the implementation of the waste management programme onsite and were able to extend the knowledge and practical tools from the conference to the hospitals and personal households.

The most vivid value and ROI are the savings in energy through green power usage, maximum elimination of food loss and support of food donations, most sustainable sourcing of the products and services, as well as better planning for travel and accommodation sourcing for the delegates and conference staff.

The importance of measuring the live events’ impact on the environment, economy and society was a priority, allowing us to create the basis for future KPIs of the carbon measurement process.

Kenes Group is committed to impacting the meetings and the healthcare sector, and Society as a whole, by taking action on Best Sustainable Practices. We are part of the IAPCO Pledge Against Single Use Plastic and the Net Zero Carbon Events