Conferences in other fields can also create a legacy in nature.

Interview with Johanna Fischer, Expert destination marketing
Het Zwin
6, 14 and 15. These are the numbers of the Sustainable Development Goals that relate specifically to water. Water thus plays a key role in the global pursuit of sustainability, and conferences can leave a meaningful legacy in this regard. According to expert Johanna Fischer, this does not have to be something exclusively for conferences in nature. Congresses in other fields can also set the topic of water on the agenda.

"Indeed, I advocate opening up the scope of conferences in other fields and bringing in sustainability themes such as water. The links are often easy to make: from construction to water use, or from clothing to water. We need to inform and educate people about the value of, for example, wetlands and how the government works together with national and international organisations to manage and improve them. By informing about these valuable water areas, the government also wants to involve stakeholders in finding new funds.”

Raise awareness via the delegates to your conference

“These funds are important for collecting data about the added value of wetlands. For example, it is known that these areas can play a major role in CO2 compensation. But to find out how much carbon dioxide the wetlands store, and for how long, requires additional scientific research. Based on the data from the research, the right political decisions can then be made.”

This process can be accelerated by creating greater awareness, for example by introducing delegates of international conferences to wetlands such as the Zwin in Flanders.

“The Zwin is a so-called Ramsar area. In 1971, 171 countries signed the Ramsar Convention, committing themselves to the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. These are natural areas with an important biodiversity or a unique ecosystem, water purification or flood management. There are already more than 2,400 Ramsar areas worldwide, with a total surface area of more than 2.2 million square kilometres.

Another way to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands is to offer tourist experiences. Education and experience are two important elements. A great deal is already being organised in this respect: beach and river clean-ups, competitions to promote the sustainable use of water, attention to water use at events and in the keynote speeches at conferences. But it can always be better. And quicker.”

Natuurpark Het Zwin
Johanna Fischer

Who is Johanna Fischer?

Johanna Fischer is an expert in destination marketing. In her work, she focuses on how tourist destinations can be linked to educational aims and sustainability. With her organisations – FrauBlau and tmf dialogue – Johanna has been specialising in the issues around water and other SDGs for many years: shortages of drinking water, but also ways in which certain regions promote soil filtration and give space back to the rivers. Thanks to the SDGs, more and more organisations understand how important water is and that we have to handle it differently. In order to realise this change, awareness needs to be increased and the support of governments won, even across national borders.

Free inspiration for your next conference

A successful conference is one that inspires. That’s why we offer you here tons of inspiration. For a conference in your domain, for your conference in Flanders.