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Denmark organises the EU’s first sustainable Presidency

19-06-2012 09:38:00

The Danish Presidency has become known as 'the tap water Presidency' because all delegates have been served tap water at the meetings. Now the Presidency has been certified as sustainable.

Tap water

The Danish Presidency of the Council has been certified as sustainable under the new international ISO20121 standard for sustainable events. The standard is developed for large events such as the Olympic Games in London and the Danish Presidency is one of the first major international events to be organized and implemented in a certifiable sustainable manner.

"The Danish Government has been dedicated to organise a sustainable Presidency. We are the first presidency, which is planned and carried out sustainably. The ISO certification is a pat on the back and shows our commitment to sustainability and green solutions. We have used the Presidency to show that Denmark has the political will to walk the talk and put action behind our words. It is wonderful that we in Denmark also have the businesses, which can deliver environmentally sound technologies and solutions," says Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen.

The Danish Presidency has become known internationally as "The Tap Water Presidency" because all participants - including ministers - have been served tap water at meetings in Denmark. However, the sustainability efforts cover many other initiatives and sustainability has been an integral part of the logistical planning and execution of the presidency. The challenge has been to implement an effective and efficient presidency in a sustainable manner, without substantial additional costs.

"By rethinking all the processes and by constantly focusing on doing things smarter, we have reached our goal of being certified. An important lesson we have learnt is that you can get very far by demanding more of your suppliers, but even more important close cooperation with suppliers is a prerequisite for success. Many of our suppliers have launched sustainability initiatives in connection with the Presidency, and it is precisely this ability to collaborate and innovate, that makes it possible for Denmark to organize such a big event in a sustainable way, " says Nicolai Wammen.

Prior to Denmark’s term as President of the Council, the Presidency's central logistical team in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs designed a concept that ensured a sustainable implementation of the Presidency, without entailing significant additional costs. This was done by making demands on suppliers, abandoning certain benefits (such as merchandise like umbrellas and key chains) and by entering into sponsorships with clean-tech companies. The logistical planning includes a number of initiatives, such as the following:

  • Environmental Certification of conference facilities
  • All guests stayed at the eco-labeled hotels
  • Ban on bottled water in conference centers
  • Use of public transport where possible
  • Limited gift policy
  • Sustainable meals
  • Sustainable office materials (blocks pens, copy paper)
  • Carpets made from corn
  • PVC-free cables
  • Reuse of admission cards and the cord used to wear them
  • Free bicycles for delegates in Horsens and at selected hotels in Copenhagen
  • Optimization of motorcade driving - fewer cars were sent on the road

The sustainability effort has also included a number of sponsorships:

  • The Danish Wind Industry Association has sponsored green electricity certificates to the Presidency
  • Danfoss has supplied energy-saving technology (thermostats) to the conference centers
  • DHL has supplied CO2 neutral shipping and handling
  • SAS has supplied CO2 compensation of flights with SAS and green take-offs and landings in Copenhagen.

Furthermore the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took steps to set up a consortium with a wide range of partners to launch sustainability initiatives across the country. The consortium was named “Danish Sustainable Events Initiative” and members include Visit Denmark, Wonderful Copenhagen, Visit Aarhus, Visit Aalborg, Visit Southern Denmark, SAS, State of Green, HORESTA, MCI and Bella Center.

The Presidency has been certified by the London-based firm SGS, which has audited the sustainability efforts of the Presidency and found that the project is in compliance with the international ISO-standard.

Andreas Clausen Boor
Sustainability Coordinator
Tel: +45 5087 6563  / Email: