1. Strategic Analysis and Action

The company declares whether or not it pursues a sustainability strategy. It explains what concrete measures it is undertaking to operate in compliance with key recognised sector-specific, national and international standards.

At Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH (HMC), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) means doing business responsibly and sustainably, not only in an economic sense but also with regard to ecological and social aspects.

In its business operations HMC places great emphasis on sustainability. According to the “Guidance For Ecologically Responsible Procurement” (Leitfaden für umweltverträgliche Beschaffung) issued by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (FHH), “[Hamburg] has borne the title ‘Fairtrade Town’ since 2011, received the European Green Capital Award for 2011, and joined the Network of German Bio Cities in 2016. In its ‘Agenda 2030’, the United Nations agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. And: Hamburg is implementing the Agenda 2030.” HMC considers this a special obligation and responsibility.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of FHH, HMC is committed to doing its share to implement the climate protection policy set forth by the Senate of the City of Hamburg. HMC has documented its principles of operational climate protection in its Climate Protection Policy.

Sustainability and responsible business conduct are deeply engrained in the corporate culture of HMC. They provide the basis for the trust our stakeholders place in HMC. HMC constantly pursues sustainable solutions, whether as a trade fair organiser, an employer, or a site operator.

Our all-encompassing corporate strategy is based on the HMC Code of Conduct (“Trust, Responsibility And Performance”), our integrated Corporate Compliance Programme, the appointment of Compliance, Equality and Sustainability Officers, as well as appropriate training programmes for all employees.

HMC’s corporate responsibility spans numerous economic, ecological and social spheres of activity: HMC is committed to pursuing objectives such as climate and environment protection as well as compliance, occupational health and safety, and data protection with the same rigor we apply to ensuring responsible, sustainable business operations. In particular, this includes a sustainable energy supply and a focus on energy efficiency.  

As early as 2009 HMC incorporated climate protection in its corporate policy as a permanent goal [please refer to Criterion 6]. This includes highlighting how every employee can contribute to the protection of the climate in their daily activities. HMC was guided by the idea that it is possible to protect the climate in ways which go beyond major projects, such as retrofitting LED lighting throughout the exhibition halls and car parks to reduce energy consumption significantly. Many small steps taken by HMC and its employees in their day-to-day activities can likewise contribute to the reduction of air pollutants. Moreover, through its events HMC can raise awareness among exhibitors, visitors, participants and the public about suitable technical solutions and methods to enhance climate protection while highlighting the importance of managing our natural resources more sustainably.

In the follow-up to its Climate Protection Plan (2019) and through its new Climate Protection Act (2020), the Senate of the City of Hamburg has taken two important steps enabling Hamburg to achieve its climate protection goals. The city’s CO2 emission are to be reduced by 55 % by the year 2030 (based on 1990 levels). And by 2050 the city wants to cut emissions by at least 95 % as it endeavours to achieve climate neutrality. Furthermore, all of the city’s public sector organisations are to be climate-neutral as early as 2040. The FHH Climate Strategy boosts the city's climate protection efforts as it continues to work towards becoming a city that is well adapted to coping with climate change. Four transformation pathways – the heating, mobility, economic and climate transformation – define strategic areas of focus for this transition. The Climate Plan comprises a wide range of specific measures designed to achieve the required low level of CO2 emissions by the year 2030. The new Climate Protection Act provides a binding legal framework for these efforts. HMC contributes to the FHH climate goals in every conceivable manner.

Transformation paths in the Hamburg Climate Plan © Behörde für Umwelt, Klima, Energie und Agrarwirtschaft (BUKEA)

Since 01 January 2020, sustainability has been a mandatory requirement for all public sector organisations as per the Hamburg Code of Corporate Governance (HCGK).

In addition, HMC bases its commitment to reconciliation of economic interests with ecological and social causes on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). HMC pledges to follow these principles of sustainable operation in every respect as a fundamental element of its corporate culture. HMC's specific activities in pursuit of the SDGs have been published in detail on its corporate website.  

A fundamental new corporate strategy will be introduced during the year 2021. It endeavours to transform HMC into a "learning organisation" and integrates sustainability as one of four stategic pillars.

2. Materiality

The company discloses the aspects of its business operations that have a significant impact on sustainability issues and what material impact sustainability issues have on its operations. It analyses the positive and negative effects and provides information as to how these insights are integrated into the company’s processes.

As a Hamburg public sector organisation, Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH (HMC) is under obligation to fully implement the FHH goals at all times in fulfilment of its responsibility towards society and the City of Hamburg. Therefore public sector organisations bear a major portion of the responsibility to secure various infrastructure systems and provide specific services to the population (outside-in).

HMC's exhibition site and the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg are centrally located in Germany's second-largest city, in the immediate vicinity of Planten un Blomen Park. Excellent public transport connections and close proximity to the inner-city are major benefits to staff, visitors, exhibitors and the general public (outside-in). According to a study conducted by the Munich-based ifo Institute of Economic Research in 2016, HMC permanently secures 4,124 jobs in Hamburg alone. The same study stated that in non-pandemic times, the (direct and indirect) effects of events held in Germany on purchasing power amount to roughly 734 million euros spent on services, in general commerce, in the hospitality sector and at cultural events. This added purchasing power unfolds about 56 % of its potential in Hamburg (411 million euros), and roughly 44 % (323 million euros) in the rest of Germany. As many as 658,000 overnight stays per year can be attributed directly to HMC activities. Every year more than 40 trade fairs take place in Hamburg, drawing 15,000 exhibitors and approximately 700,000 visitors in total (inside-out).

From an ecological viewpoint, however, this harbours significant risk in connection with the production of waste, something that cannot be avoided in the trade fair and congress business. Therefore HMC takes specific action, for example, to reduce the production of waste while making sure that as much unavoidable waste as possible is recycled or disposed of properly (inside-out).

The 87,000 m2 exhibition area represents a significant amount of sealed soil. To compensate, measures such as the roof garden above Hall H of the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg (one of Europe's largest herbaceous plant rooftop gardens) provide extra water seepage surface, biodiversity and an additional watering resource for the adjacent park (inside-out). 

Furthermore, high emissions caused by journeys to and from venues play an important role in the events industry (inside-out). In the case of HMC, the location of the complex in the inner-city keeps travelling distances short, especially for pedestrians and users of public transport. This reduces traffic as well as emissions (outside-in). By implementing an effective sustainability management approach, additional incentives for low-emission, climate-neutral travelling will be created and communicated in future.

Sustainability is thus perceived as a highly relevant topic in the trade fair and congress sector. Ultimately, sustainability is considered as a key standard by which HMC is increasingly measured as a trade fair and congress organisation. HMC has been addressing sustainability actively for many years. An inadequate amount of attention to this topic in HMC's business operations would put the trade fair and congress sector in a disadvantageous position. In fact, sustainability is a major competitive factor, one that HMC's stakeholders expect the organisation to take seriously. HMC plans to integrate sustainability in its new corporate strategy as of 2021.

©Hamburg Messe und Congress

A materiality analysis was conducted to determine the most relevant sustainability aspects. For this purpose, HMC carried out its first-ever stakeholder survey, asking respondents to assess a wide range of environmental, economic and social issues. The outcome of the survey confirms the high relevance of all these topics from the perspective of both, HMC and its stakeholders. Stakeholder respondents taking part in online survey largely comprised visitors and exhibitors. The diagram reflects HMC's tendency to place greater emphasis on business issues (such as customer satisfaction and service, digitalisation, quality assurance, risk management), whereas the responding stakeholders primarily focus on environmental and social aspects (including operational logistics and employee mobility, emission reduction, barrier-free access). Furthermore, respondents were given an opportunity to submit suggestions of their own. Their feedback covered a multitude of subjects, such as greening exterior surfaces, as well as specific suggestions, for example abolishing "trade fair ticket ribbons". These responses helped identify relevant spheres of action and define goals to further the cause of sustainability.

Regular meetings of the Partnership For The Environment (UmweltPartnerschaft) and the Climate Partners Agreement (Klima-Partner-Vereinbarung) are additional sources of inspiration for further action.

3. Objectives

The company discloses what qualitative and/or quantitative as well as temporally defined sustainability goals have been set and operationalised and how their level of achievement is monitored.

Through each of its public sector organisations, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (FHH) pursues certain industry-specific goals. In particular, the goals chosen for the individual public sector organisations have been documented in the vision statements passed by the Senate of Hamburg. They provide guidance to the business executives of the public sector organisations. Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH (HMC) is committed to meeting the requirements set by the Senate of Hamburg.

Environment and climate protection are among the core goals. In its new Climate Plan and the new Climate Protection Act (as per 2020), the Senate of Hamburg defines CO2 reduction targets for all of Hamburg (i. e., -55 % by 2030, and -95 % by 2050, compared to 1990 levels; also refer to Criterion 1). Furthermore, according to the coalition treaty for the 22nd legislative period of Hamburg's governing parties, "all public sector organisations shall have a climate-neutral carbon balance within the next two decades at the latest” to set an example to the industry at large. "Through their investments in infrastructure and sustainability, public sector organisations help Hamburg's economy recover from the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic." Within this framework, HMC's short- and medium-term goal is to determine the ecological effects of its existence as a business entity by preparing a carbon balance sheet. In implementing this goal, the Sustainability Officer calculated the first-ever carbon footprint for the exhibition complex for the year 2019. The results of these assessments have been validated jointly with ClimatePartner.

Among the remaining key goals, the implementation of three future sustainability measures based on the Hamburg Code of Corporate Governance (HCGK) is prioritised:  
  1. As of the reporting year 2020, HMC is to publish a qualitative sustainability report every two years based on the DNK criteria (with the 2019 report representing the pilot project).
  2. Another short- and medium-term goal to which HMC has committed as a public sector organisation is to fully compensate for all relevant air travel. The importance of compensating for flights is seen in the high emissions caused by this means of transport. As of 2020, all information about job-related travel will be recorded by the travel services provider, HANSALOG, in a climate-awareness travel management programme, and compensated monetarily.
    For further details, please refer to the Administrative Ordinance For The Hamburg Travel Expense Act.  
  3. In the years 2019/20, HMC recorded its activities towards implementing the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as required by the HCGK code. Using the globally-recognised SDGs as a benchmark is a useful way to reconcile economic with ecological and social concerns. Detailed activities and goals for each of the SDGs have been published on the HMC  corporate website since August 2020.
The HCGK Declaration of Compliance is published annually on the website and included in the Annual Report. Compliance with the goals and objectives under the HCGK is reviewed by HMC’s internal auditors as well as an external annual auditor pursuant to the "Comply Or Explain” principle.  

Furthermore, HMC plans to enhance the involvement of its employees in environmental and climate protection activities by providing relevant sustainability training courses as of mid-2021 through the internal HMC-Academy. The responsibility for all sustainability goals relating to environmental and climate protection has been entrusted to HMC's Sustainability Officer who has been in charge of these matters since 2009 (the current incumbent since 2013). The Sustainability Officer is supported by a cross-departmental "Sustainability Project Team". As a staff role, the Sustainability Officer reports directly to the corporate executive level. All progress is reported to the Supervisory Board (pre-2020 in a KPI report; as of 2020, in the DNK Report according to the HCGK, with activities being reported in the same way as SDG-related measures). As of 2021, sustainability will be an integral part of the Corporate Strategy, and additional relevant measures will be taken (structured by saving potential, costs and timing) so as to achieve the ambitious climate protection goal of FHH (climate neutrality of all public sector organisations by 2040; see above). Additional goals beyond meeting the FHH environmental targets are derived from the evaluation of the first-time Materiality Analysis conducted by interviewing relevant stakeholders [refer to Criterion 2].

4. Depth of the Value Chain

The company states what significance aspects of sustainability have for added value and how deep in the value chain the sustainability criteria are verified.

The definition of the value chain of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH (HMC) follows the principles described by Kopeinig and Gedenk (2005) in "Kölner Kompendium der Messewirtschaft: das Management von Messegesellschaften" (Cologne Compendium of the Trade Fair Industry: Managing Trade Fair Organisations). The Cologne Compendium proposes to subdivide the value chain into three phases: before, during and after the event.
©Hamburg Messe und Congress

The core business of HMC as a service provider comprises the execution of events organised by HMC or third parties as well as international events: "the bringing together of visitors and exhibitors at a specified place and time [...], the presentation of industries, companies and products (Kopeinig und Gedenk, 2005, p. 231). This is supplemented by individual services during all three phases which are either provided in-house or through service partners, based on the make-or-buy principle. These are either primary activities such as conducting requirements analyses, designing and planning activities, sales and implementation, or secondary, supporting activities, for example accounting and controlling, data-processing, facility management (cleaning, security services, maintenance etc.). Some of the secondary activities are outsourced. For example, HMC may contract an external company to clean the exhibition halls and the administrative building (facility management).

Pre-event activities focus on business travels and services such as exhibition stand construction, marketing and logistics. HMC cooperates with Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company, to offer visitors carbon-free travelling to and from its facilities. In stand construction, reusable stand designs as well as carpeting tiles are used wherever possible. HMC collaborates with experienced stand construction firms. Furthermore, the logistics provider's vehicle guidance system has been upgraded to optimise traffic on the exhibition campus and minimise emissions (both CO2 and noise).

During an event, there is a need for technical services, staffing, catering and hotel services. All technical equipment is expected to be state-of-the-art and energy-efficient. HMC generally outsources catering services to partners who have an active sustainability concept of their own. For example, our catering provider Käfer gives priority to regional, seasonal and organic food and calculates quantities for the expected number of persons as precisely as possible to avoid wasted food. Any leftover food is recycled to generate biogas.

Post-event activities are similar to pre-event activities, including stand disassembly, logistics and travelling services. Supplementary activities include after-sales-service and others.

One well-known issue associated with trade fairs and congresses is waste created during assembly and disassembly as well as during the event itself. To minimise waste, HMC works with innovative service partners. These efforts include trade fair-specific waste-reduction measures such as those mentioned above: use of carpeting tiles as reusable flooring, or offering standard, pre-fabricated exhibition stands to exhibitors. Carpeting tiles can be reused many times and are subsequently recycled for use in furniture upholstery. Ready-made exhibition stands can likewise be reused multiple times and do not have to be disposed of after an exhibition. They help conserve valuable resources. Exhibitors are required to follow HMC’s Technical Regulations, which include mandatory sorting of waste. What is more, HMC's “Green Guidelines for Exhibitors To Ensure An Eco-Friendly Exhibition“ raise awareness about the above-mentioned waste issue and about other sustainability considerations during an exhibition. For further information regarding sustainability at HMC please refer to the HMC-website.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (FHH), HMC also applies the "Guidance For Ecologically Responsible Procurement of FHH” (Leitfaden für umweltverträgliche Beschaffung – German only) and the “Guidelines For Organising Events Sustainably“ (Leitfaden für die nachhaltige Organisation von Veranstaltungen – German only) as issued by the German Federal Ministry For Environmental Affairs, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the German Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt).

The Executive Board is convinced that climate protection must be approached as a cross-enterprise challenge in order to achieve progress. It therefore believes it to be essential to integrate climate protection as a task at all levels of the value chain, including HMC's own business operations, always with economic feasibility in mind. This principle was first established in the company's 2009 sustainability concept. HMC plans to make sustainability a more prominent criterion when awarding future contracts. This will encourage third parties to sharpen the focus on sustainability, especially with regard to minimising waste and emissions. Many of HMC's service partners have taken part in the Materiality Analysis survey [refer to Criterion 2].

Key Performance Indicators to criteria 1 to 4