Green Business Initiative took place in Movenpick Hotel and Resort on June 14 & 15, 2011. This is what I have to say about it:
June 14, 2011
When I arrived the Inaugural session had already started. It was easy to notice that there were more people than chairs. A good thing for the organizers, but a bad thing for people who had to stand up for a long time. I didn’t stay long either. Unfortunately, although the subject was really important, some speakers were just reading the PowerPoint slides. One of them had such a small font that no one in the back could read. I look around a bit and found that people started to walk out, or draw on a piece of paper… With a group of people not paying attention, I felt skeptical. I really think that presentations make it or break it. Speakers should have prepared more.
After that I had the choice between two different sessions: Green Finance or Green Marketing. I went for the second option.
Session 1: Green Marketing
The session addressed the marketing side of green business and green washing.
- Naji Boulos – International Advertising Association
- Philippe Skaff – GREY MENA
- Nader El Naqib – G for Good
- Muhieddine Fathallah – Bank Med
The room was full! The session started with Mr. Skaff giving a historical overview of green business. He did not use any PowerPoint slides and used humor to attract the listeners attention. He explained what brand and branding were all about and how just marketing green didn’t guarantee more money.
When Mr. El Naqib’s turn came, he stood up in front of the audience and talked about green washing, how to spot it and how to avoid it. He showed us several examples. He also used humor to convey his message and a good PowerPoint presentation to exhibit his examples.
Finally, Mr. Fathallah talked about the Happy Planet project of Bank Med. He screened a video about the bank’s activities. Although his PP presentation was charged, he did not rely on it. Instead he emphasized on the major highlights. He also exposed the problems that the bank faced and how the decision to become carbon neutral was taken.
I was positively impressed by the quality of the three presentations. All the speakers were well articulate. They also managed the comments, critiques and questions by the end of the session very well! I also got a VERY CUTE BabyTree from Bank Med! Can’t wait to see it grow!
June 15, 2011
For the first workshop of the day, I had the choice between talks around Green Buildings and Green Hospitality. The later was a subject I was curious about since many restaurants were “going green”.
Session 1: Green Hospitality
The session was about hotels and restaurant looking forward to going green, what they could do and the possible benefits of such a decision.
- Nicolas Sbeih – Implicit
- Mazen Khoury – Integrated Energy Group
- Madona Hayek – Movenpick Hotel and Resort
- Omar Sakr – Shtrumpf Restaurant
During his presentation, Mr. Khoury elaborated on green hospitality and showed us how we neglected standards although they existed. I understood more how the concept of “luxury” was associated with more wasted in 5 star hotels in Lebanon and the GCC. It was also a pity to learn that some hotel’s efforts to recycle were useless because the collectors mixed the separated waste and dumped it. How unfortunate! Initiatives always need to be controlled to see where the waste is REALLY going and how it’s REALLY treated.
Ms. Hayek put forward the case of Movenpick Hotel and Resort. She stressed on the fact that there were 3 key players: The employees, the guests and the suppliers. She provided numbers, which gave us more insight on the amount of money saved since the decision of being environmentally friendly was made.
Mr. Sakr developed the Shtrumpf restaurant’s case. He first started to explain why restaurants had to go green, how and the many barriers they could face.
The cases were really informative. It’s always interesting to have numbers from Lebanese organizations instead of just giving examples of foreign companies. They actually showed that the concept was a challenge but that worked in the favor of the organization implementing it… at all levels. The session raised many questions from the audience, the speakers were all great and I really appreciated the fact that their presentations were well done.
For the last workshop, I also had two options: Green Energy or Green Office. It seems that all that I’m interested in is always the second option and this one always happens to be in Room B.
Session 2: Green Office
The session was about how one could audit and modify energy consumption and the savings that could be achieved.
- Nader Houella – Lebanon Opportunities Green Business Initiative
- Gina Chammas – Tomorrow’s Advice
- Paul Abi Rashed – Terre Liban
- Patricia Khoury – Beeatoona Organization
Finally, things got practical with Ms. Chammas giving an exhaustive list of tips on what can anyone do to reduce waste and save energy…And there is a million things that we can do!
Mr. Abi Rached’s PP presentation didn’t work. (Technical difficulties.) But that did not stop him from delivering one of the most inspirational improvised speeches about how Terre Liban was working with private companies to get rid of their waste. It was very engaging and straight to the point.
In the end, Ms. Koury exposed the enormous challenges Beeatoona Organization has been facing with regards to e-waste. A HUGE problem for which Lebanon is not well aware and prepared.
I loved the concept of: “What you produce is your property.” This makes the manufactures responsible of their products even after they have been sold. As a matter of fact, empty containers should be returned to them and they should be taking the responsibility of recycling. (Reminded me of “Chraba, Redda” or “Drink it, Return it”)
I also appreciated the fact that Mr. Houella read from the screen instead of papers, unlike other moderators.
My overall impression:
The workshops I attended were an astonishing success! I’m truly impressed. All the speakers were great! I honestly have learned a lot! I believe that Lebanon Opportunities – INFOPRO made a tremendous job. The fact that these conferences are made by Lebanon for Lebanon makes them even more interesting in the sense that Lebanese companies are sharing information with players from different industries.
The most important thing is that attendance is FREE and that workshops are accessible to any person from any background. I hope that the presentations will be available for download soon as they contain important information that needs to be shared. (It would have also been nice to have representatives from the concerned ministries, for example.) Anything can be even perfected even further and after such a great experience, I can’t wait for the next event!