Greening the seventh summit of ROI Community

June 12th, 20125:30 am @


To offset the carbon footprint that participants are creating in flying to and
from their summit this week, the ROI Community will be providing solar water
heaters to 51 needy Israeli families.

From Sunday through Thursday this
week, young entrepreneurs are gathering in Jerusalem for the seventh annual
summit of the ROI Community, a global network of Jewish innovators established
by Jewish American philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.

This year, however,
in addition to providing its usual training workshops and networking platforms
for the participants, the summit is also going green.

While it is still
early in the greening process for the ROI Community, the organization has
already made drastic improvements, said Irene Rompa, a Dutch environmental
consultant for the summit.

Rompa started out as a volunteer for
TedxAmsterdam and then performed greening operations at TedxSummit in Qatar this
spring, where she met Beto Maya, director of gatherings and recruitment at the
ROI Community, who asked her to green the summit.

“We’ve been doing
conferences for the past seven years and I think that slowly we came to the
realization that these conferences have an impact on the environment,” Maya told
The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “In today’s world it’s impossible to avoid
thinking about how to make these things happen and at the same time to lower the
impact of what we’re doing.”

Already, the summit is employing several new
green tactics, Rompa told the Post.

In order to fly in the summit
participants, the ROI Community calculated that it is creating a carbon
footprint of about 300 tons of carbon dioxide, she explained. The organization
is therefore investing in solar water heaters for 51 Israeli families in need of
replacing their diesel boilers, which will generate the amount of clean energy
equivalent to the footprint they are creating.

“It comes down to
awareness,” she said.

When attendees arrived to the conference, they each
received a refillable water bottle to discourage them from using disposable
plastic bottles and encourage them to simply drink from the Jerusalem tap,
according to Rompa.

“That will save tons of plastic,” she said. “It’s not
just a plastic bottle, it’s the production of the bottle and water and the waste
from the bottle.”

Meanwhile, in the hotel where the participants are
staying, ROI Community staff installed signs in each room instructing attendees
to reuse their towels and coffee cups, Rompa explained. At the conference
itself, there are special recycling bins where participants can separate their
waste, which will then be brought to a recycling center and to a small community
that will use the food waste for compost.

“It’s a way of trying to set an
example,” Rompa said. “It’s a very international crowd so I hope if they get
inspired in a way if they take this in and bring it home to their home
countries, it can leave a legacy.”

While the summit has already made vast
improvements in its greening policies, there is still much work to be done,
according to Rompa.

For example, some targets for next year could be
minimizing the materials distributed in the gift bags for the participants and
making them more sustainable, as well as switching to a vegetarian menu, she

“This is the first year that we’re making an effort as to how we
can improve for next year,” she said. “It’s a starting point.”

For next
year, Rompa also said some good ideas might be to work with suppliers closely,
to make sure all paper is FSC certified, the catering is sustainable and the
conference providers have green visions.

As far as Israel as a whole
goes, Rompa praised the country for its “very visible” plastic bottle collection
in the streets.

However, she also suggested that Israel could install
more water fountain taps on these same streets.

“I don’t see in the taps
in the streets,” she said, noting that in Holland, the government is actively
installing fountains in the middle of the streets. “If you put water in the
streets then people wouldn’t have to go buy plastic bottles.”

She also
encouraged the government to speed up its implementation of a recycling system
for different waste streams, since it has launched positive initiatives in this
area already.

All in all, however, Rompa was pleased with the progress
Israel as a whole was making environmentally and both she and Maya hoped to see
an even greener ROI Summit next year.

“In today’s world there are two
kinds of people – the people into environmental things, carbon offsetting and
the people who are cynical about it,” Maya said. “My goal is that by doing this
with leaders from all over the world, we will be able to make this more of a
norm in events all over the world.”

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