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Sustainable conference in practice - Evaluation

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The students of Integrated Coastal Zone Management at Novia University of Applied Sciences calculated the '''carbon foot print''' of the conference. The foot print of the Solutions local, together Conference was visible at the Market of Solutions during the conference. The calculations included the preparatory phase of the conference. It showcased clearly that 76% of the GHG emissions caused by the conference were of travel emissions. Naturally the more GHG emissions is saved by the event, the bigger portion will be on the travel share. It would have been interesting to compare the event with similar events, but at that time, there were no suitable carbon foot print calculations available on similar size of events.

Several evaluations are carried out in the events organized, and it is really worth to consider, what is the real purpose of the evaluations? When is it worth to be carried out and what can be learnt from it? Online or paper questionnaires might not be enough to tell about the quality of the event, especially if it is not designed to answer the real need. Evaluations could, in best forms, showcase the potential return on investment of the event.

The planning of the evaluations should be integrated into the overall planning of the event. Nowadays there are many possibilities to carry out online, offline, real time or after event evaluations. The evaluations should be as objective as possible to give a true picture of the event. One could argue that if you do not use the evaluation results afterwards, there is no point in evaluating at all. Therefore ensure that the results are used!

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Happy or Not feedback unit was used to gather immediate reactions of the participants on the topics in question. Through these answers the organizers were able to alter some elements of the conference according the opinion of the participants.

In the Solutions local, together Conference several evaluations were carried out during the event. One of the forms of the evaluation was the use of evaluation equipment that gave the immediate reaction on the questions displayed. Another form used were the student interviews on the first day about how people arrived to the conference and what were their expectations. Also the students took examples of the amounts of wastes during the conference, from the hotel rooms and also from the local food restaurants. This showcased that the waste collection per participant of the conference was extremely low 3-4g. This means that the event was successful in reducing waste. All of these evaluations were objectively analysed by the students of the degree programme in sustainable development of the Turku University of Applied Sciences.

In addition to these an online questionnaire was sent to the participants right after the conference and the return rate of the answers was 34%. The results showcase that even the smallest details in practical arrangements were noticed.

For once the conference was sustainable, not just in talks but in actions

Sustainable practical conference arrangements (aprons, name lanyard, voting in the panel, flower decorations, reminders on individual choices on name tag and by e-mail, feedback automats, not receiving a conference bag with unnecessary documents etc)

More of the results of the online questionnaire can be read from the Solutions local, together Conference report.

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