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Out of the niche

Sensible use of natural resources was already in the public domain before 'Fridays for Future' and 'Extinction Rebellion' campaigns, expos have already been providing a platform for Green ideas for quite some time. Interest is currently rising, and the supplier side has been growing and refining in stride.

he 'Biofach Messe' in Nuremberg launched in 1990 at that time was a pioneer in biological themes. There was no telling then that this show would later mature into the bio industry's most expansive network. In our times, organizers in Nuremberg have extended their local presentation platform for biological foods by another six stations all over the world: Bangkok, Delhi, Tokyo, and Shanghai in Asia, Philadelphia and Sao Paulo in North and South America. However, growth trends are not restricted to foreign parts, much to the contrary: the event's nucleus will retain and expand its role as innovation driver. This next year will see the launch of a special program on the risks to safeguarding clean potable water staged in cooperation with a workgroup on biological mineral water catering to a new market segment.

For the upcoming edition (February 12 thru 15, 2020) commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Biofach, this bio-pioneer will also be relocated within the Nürnbergmesse halls. Danila Brunner, director of the 'Biofach' as well as its twin event 'Vivaness': "We really look forward to presenting to our customers this new hall concept for 2020 with more highly-attractive expo capacities." The trade-show pair sets up in halls 3A, 3C and 7A, thus making more space available. 3,266 exhibitors from 98 countries had attended the 2019 event; the new space arrangement allows for larger stands and up to 400 new exhibitors. Location of the show in these halls is in stride with the expo theme centered on compatibility with nature. This actually predestines Halls 3A and 3C as event venues, as these facilities were awarded Platin plaques by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) for their sustainable construction techniques.
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The race for sustainable exhibitions and products is on – and it’s fun.

A lot has happened since the 'Biofach', open strictly only to trade visitors, was first launched. There's an increasing awareness for sustainability – and the list of pertinent expos is growing longer. The 'Fair Handeln' installed in 2009 is focused on fair trading along global supply chains. The format aimed at the general audience at its tenth edition registered 158 exhibitors who met with more than 19,000 visitors. However, 'Fair Handeln' staged by the NGO Stiftung Entwicklungs-Zusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (SEZ) and Landesmesse Stuttgart is not a stand-alone event: this format on sustainability in business, fashion, finances, tourism and development cooperation is embedded in the Stuttgart spring fairs scheduled from April 16 thru 19, 2020.

The 'Fair Friends' launched by Messe Dortmund in 2008 covers a similarly wide range of topics in context with sustainable lifestyles, fair trade and social responsibility. This year, management of the consumer show had for the first time scheduled a trade-visitor day featuring two event formats on sustainable investments and procurement. The 'Marktplatz für Nachhaltige Investments' on sustainable finance, already the sixth of its kind, was for the first time staged in context with 'Fair Friends'. The expo company is also looking to involve the next generation: In tune with the 'Fridays for Future' campaign, the event has dedicated its Friday program to students as extracurricular educational venue. "The objective is to grow awareness for sustainable thinking and acting already in schools," said Sabine Loos, CEO of the Westfalenhallen Unternehmensgruppe. The expo company is therefore making effort to involve young politically-engaged heads into the ongoing public discussion on climate and environment protection as well as fair trading; the show's next edition is scheduled for August 27 thru 30, 2020.
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Don’t dump it, fix it. Fair trade shows explain, how this works.

But it's not only the high-profile large-sized expo venues driving the sustainability campaigns. In parallel, there's a number of smaller formats stopping over at diverse stations in Germany. One of these is the 'Heldenmarkt', which has its origins in a small personal occurrence: Lovis Willenberg wanted to buy a pair of sneakers made almost entirely of recycled material. When he found out that this shoe wasn't for sale in Germany, he decided to add it to his range of products on sale at his record shop in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. That proved a success, and Willenberg then decided to add other sustainable products to his stock, which soon gave rise to the idea of establishing a platform for producers to present to a wider public their environmentally-compatible goods produced under fair conditions. In 2010, the 'Heldenmarkt' premiered at the Berliner Postbahnhof under the aegis of Forum Futura, Berlin. Nowadays, the format has been relocated to Station Berlin, where it provides more than 180 exhibitors with ample space to present their services and goods to around 10,000 visitors. What was once a small delicate plant has grown into a sturdy tree with strong offshoots. Seven new venues are on the 2020 list: Hamburg (January 25&26), Dortmund (February 22&23), Munich (March 28&29), Stuttgart (October 3&4), Hannover (October 17&18), Lindau/Lake Constance (November 7&8) and Berlin (November 14&15).

Another similarly thriving event is the 'Fairgoods', which is touring Germany with its sister event 'Veggienale'. Launched by Ecoventa in Berlin in late 2015, the format this year will stopover in altogether eight cities with its presentation of vegan lifestyle and ecological sustainability: Münster, Freiburg, Nuremberg, Hannover, Cologne, Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Hamburg. In early 2020, the event will then have its Berlin premiere. Expo organizers are not only providing a platform for sustainability, they actually live it in their everyday business operations: their events are realized in keeping with the principle 'avoid, reduce and compensate for CO2', their waste disposal concepts take environmental aspects into consideration. The choice of materials for stand building and equipment, stages and visitor orientation is based on durability and multiple use. Inspiration is accordingly not only found at the exhibitor stands, it is also generated by the way organizers go about things.

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