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Our sustainability strategy generates perspectives through to 2035

Koelnmesse continually integrates its stance on sustainability into its strategic goals. To this end, it has launched an extensive and ambitious process.

Independent of the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge and the goals of the German trade fair sector as a whole, Koelnmesse shares the ambitious goals of the city of Cologne, which aims to be climate neutral as early as 2035.

A strategy with a holistic approach

"For Koelnmesse, sustainability is about taking a holistic approach, which includes aspects of the environment, society and economy as a whole in addition to climate protection goals," emphasises Prof. Christian Glasmacher, who is responsible for corporate development as a member of Koelnmesse's Executive Board. In September 2021, the "Sustainability Strategy" project was launched with the support of TÜV Rheinland.

An ambitious process

In the first step, the status quo was assessed throughout the company by determining which measures are already being implemented and which sustainability issues already play a role from an internal perspective. You can find an initial overview here:

The results were subjected to initial international benchmarking to determine where competitors stand and what goals they have formulated. This also included looking at the political and social environment.
The identified topics were derived from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) defined by the United Nations, taking into account the specifics of the trade fair business. These topics serve Koelnmesse as the foundation for transparent presentation, so that exhibitors worldwide can quickly compare their own goals.

An extensive stakeholder survey

At the same time, the SDG served as the basis for an extensive stakeholder survey. More than 3,000 responses show that the step towards dialogue with our customers, service providers, employees and others was exactly right.
Members of the Supervisory Board as well as representatives of city and state politics, the media, and the sectors involved in our trade fairs gave us feedback in personal interviews on what they see as the key focal points in terms of sustainability in trade fair operations.
This feedback from a wide array of stakeholders testifies to a high level of understanding of the necessities, opportunities and also limitations of sustainable trade fair management.

Respondents prioritised the following categories among the key areas requiring action with regard to sustainability:

  • Energy consumption and energy efficiency
  • Waste and resources
  • Climate protection
  • Sustainable procurement and supply chain management
  • Promoting sustainability in event implementation
  • Business ethics and compliance
  • Modern personnel management
  • Sustainable corporate governance
  • Social commitment
  • Biodiversity

The results were placed in a materiality matrix. This provides the company with a solid foundation on which to make decisions with regard to defining its own goals and plans of action. Furthermore, initial priorities have already been defined for the time intervals up to 2025, 2030 and 2035.
In the next step, the Sustainability Strategy project is tasked with working together with the Executive Board to validate these results and present them to the Supervisory Board. A concrete package of measures will then be developed by mid-2023 to implement the goals defined with the Supervisory Board and the shareholders.
As with digital transformation, our goal is to soon become one of the leaders in the trade fair sector in the area of sustainability.

As of November 2022