IFEMA’s CSR projects and challenges
Companies today are more aware of the importance of contributing to improving society, offering a better quality of life to their employees, and the environment preservation. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) represents a value of increasing importance in the activity of companies. This value acquires special significance in the case of an institution like IFEMA, whose basic objectives revolves around its contribution to society, such as boosting business activity and providing wealth and development to its environment. Santiago Quiroga, Director of Quality and CSR of IFEMA, explains some of the entity’s lines of action, aimed at complying with the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN, as well as initiatives and projects for a near future in the framework of their commitment to sustainable development and good practices in all its areas of activity.
Sustainable infrastructure, a process of continuous improvement.
Ifema is immersed in a project to expand and improve its facilities, which each year receive more than 3.5 million people. According to Santiago, "this is done with an absolutely inclusive view; we are a very active institution when it comes to energy efficiency and respect of the environment. In fact, this commitment to alternative energies has taken a step forward with the venue’s recent geothermal project, a pioneer in the trade shows sector. This project supports the energy consumption of the Central Office Building, and will avoid the emission of 200 tons of CO2 per year". This comes on top of other actions that have made possible significant savings in electricity in 2017, in addition to actions aimed at saving water consumption, as well as minimizing the environmental impact of the venue’s activity, with the recycling of tons of waste materials. In this context, "by 2019 we plan to achieve very measurable and concrete objectives. We are not talking about a general desire, but about concrete realities, focused on the Sustainable Development Goals", adds Santiago.
Some significant data achieved in 2017:
- 81,000 kWh / year of electric power
- 707,000 kWh / year of thermal energy
CO2 reduction of:
- 200 tons of emissions / year
- Total / year: 140,000 m3
- Irrigation with reclaimed water / savings: 90,000 m3
- Reduction of garden areas consumption; 40%
- 16.5 tons of metallic elements
- 21,000 tons of paper
Another focus of action in the field of social responsibility, are the solidarity actions carried out by IFEMA, with numerous institutions, including the involvement of its employees. In this sense, IFEMA has designed a volunteer project to promote participation among its more than 400 employees. "Starting with the management, there is a strong commitment to promote not only the idea that employees carry out volunteer actions, but also that these should be linked to the initiatives that they themselves propose. It is about fostering this level of solidarity as a form of action within our field of work", says Santiago.
"In the coming months we will examine the volunteering proposals that the staff contribute, and promote solidarity as a way of acting at work"
A concrete example of pioneer CSR action?
IFEMA has been at the forefront of technology in the field of trade fairs, with the creation of the IFEMA LAB Foundation. "This is the first laboratory of digital innovation that works hand in hand with young researchers in solutions and high-value projects for the business world and business", says Santiago.
In addition, "there are two very important projects which have a strong potential to have a positive influence. One is IFEMA Innova, a program to support and recognize the innovative spirit of companies through their presence in the Innovation Galleries that many trade show s offer; the other one is IFEMA Impulso, which includes stimulus actions for entrepreneurship, through a program which more than 3,000 companies have benefited from since its launch. It is a support tool for entrepreneurship in the different economic and industrial sectors of our shows, with an objective to encourage start-ups and entrepreneurs, giving them a presence on the shows and helping them get a stronger presence in the market. For this, a 50% subsidized participation formula has been designed, that allows companies with potential to be present at our reference events".
The future of CSR at IFEMA.
IFEMA has always carried out its activity in a responsible manner, covering various areas of activity. However, "we have analyzed in depth our capacities and initiatives, in order to adapt all our CSR activities to the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We have a huge potential capacity to be generators of multiple actions in a unique way, as an institution but also involving other industries through responsible actions within the trade shows. In this context, one of the immediate new projects is the promotion and diffusion of sustainable tourism, in our industry platforms such as the international show FITUR. "We are immersed in a project that will be launched as of 2019 and that will be activated at FITUR. It is about the creation of a sustainable tourism observatory, in which we will analyse the best tourism practices, and provide a selection of national and international sustainable tourism recommendations. We will launch proposals to promote quality tourism, and set the guidelines to evolve towards the right path that helps generate a tourism activity that does not impact the environment and that allows us to continue generating wealth in the future, "explains Santiago.
"We have other examples of our willingness to extend our responsible actions to our fairs. One takes place in the international fair of the fruit and vegetable industry, Fruit Attraction: the surplus of food that is exhibited at the show is collected by a Food Bank with a huge impact. We also organize a fashion show in MOMAD (international fashion show) which includes children with Down syndrome. There is an absolute diversity in the types of actions we can include, and all this fits within a very broad vision of solidarity, inclusion and collaboration”. IFEMA have also designed solidarity actions to create alliances with NGOs and associations that are acting in this area, and link them with exhibiting and visiting companies on our shows. It is a very positive action, and has a wide scope not only in the short term, but in the long term in the business sphere as well as in solidarity", says Santiago Quiroga.