In order for meeting planners to better understand the connections with water and SDG6, we introduce initiatives in destinations supporting sustainable solutions of local water challenges. At the same time this expertise relating to SDG6 (Water and sanitation) in conference destinations can ease and enable exchange with relevant projects and serve as example for change management.

Freiburg – A lab for water legacy

This time we look at programs for Sustainable Water Development initiatives from the perspective of Barbara Anton, Urban Water Management expert at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, in Freiburg.

ICLEI is a global network of more than 2500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable development. Being a major player also in Europe, its regional headquarters are here in Freiburg, the City is of course a member of ICLEI, and Martin Horn, the Mayor, is President of ICLEI Europe.

Whereas ICLEI’s activities are covering many sectors of urban sustainable development and climate adaptation, like biodiversity, nature-based solutions, renewable energies, waste, circular economy, food systems, NET ZERO emissions etc., we focus here on the projects looking into “water” as a substantial resource and on improving water governance. We check with Barbara to better understand which of their projects cover water issues, how municipalities make use of the services ICLEI offers, and how to make the connections to promote conferences.

Amongst many others, Barbara and her colleagues are currently working in the following water related projects:

1) NICE – Innovative and Enhanced Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Urban Water Cycle

Starting in 2021 and scheduled till 2025, NICE is a Horizon2020 funded project which aims to increase the availability of and improve nature-based solutions (NbS) for circular urban water solutions. The solutions will capture water and repurpose it for different uses and mitigate pollution and run off.

To achieve sustainable circular urban water loops, the project works across research, private sector and policy and involves citizens to help transform the European urban water landscape.

One of the goals is to create new business in and investment models for cost-effective solutions benefitting the environment, economy, and society. (meetings follow investments and investments can follow meetings!)

Read more on the Project website

2) Green City Accord

The Green City Accord is a movement of European mayors committed to safeguarding the natural environment. The Accord focuses on mobilizing cities to step up their ambitions to achieve cleaner and healthier environments, thereby improving the quality of life of citizens. It is a European Commission initiative to activate European mayors committed to safeguarding the natural environment. By joining the Accord, mayors agree to step up their efforts in five key areas by 2030:

Air – Water – Nature & Biodiversity – Circular economy and Waste – Noise

Read more about the Green City Accord

The Green City Accord was launched by the European Commission in 2020. Participation of a municipality in this program can be a good indicator for serious sustainable engagement, in water and in the other key areas.


For municipalities, industry sectors, society and for the meetings’ industry it can be challenging to identify legacy projects that are both of strategic importance and value for the visited community and relate to SDG 6 as an example (same is valid for other SDGs of course). Business events held in municipalities with a strong focus on SDG 6, can help delegates to better relate to water issues and provide a valid legacy case for conferences to support. You can build on such local expertise around SDG6 with related speakers, valuable knowledge transfers and future investment opportunities.

ICLEI often has a coordinating role in this context. They are experts in bringing partners together, across Europe, support with applications for EU funding and participate in or lead relevant projects by themselves where feasible and in line with their aspirations. For municipalities this can be a valuable help in curating a complex project and build on wide expertise and networks.

ICLEI and its experts are members of many associations, societies and learning alliances – also for water projects, to discuss relevant topics and developments for digitalization /smart water solutions, waste water recycling and reuse and many more water specific topics like new models for circular water and digital twins in the knowledge community.

When planning a meeting or congress in Freiburg, relating to managing water sustainably, ICLEI will be one of the key organisations to speak to. The Freiburg CVB will be delighted to set up a local board of water experts for your event.

More on ICLEI Website


Freiburg CVB shares content about water-related research, organizations, initiatives in their Green City with the meetings’ industry. The goal is to bring water and SDG 6 related action into the awareness of business events’ planners, as an innovative approach for meeting organizers to think in systems and to learn how to connect important sustainable development goals (like SDG for water) with the planning of meetings and events.

The global meetings industry has a strong voice and can use it to close gaps between awareness and action, impact and  purpose can be achieved through events. To directly intervene in the development of an SDG like No 6 through behaviour change, new on-site programs, governance, legacy, and demonstration of change across all sectors, is a practical step into sustainability for any conference. Use “Water” as your anchor to demonstrate engagement.


If you plan a conference and want to discuss water (or other) legacy concepts, contact:

Christina Fritsch, Project Head Freiburg Convention Bureau / MICE / Netzwerk

Tel.: +49 761 3881-15 25 • Mobil: +49 151 22 507 198  •

See you in Freiburg!


More Ideas and Inspiration for ESG / CSR applications for Corporate & Association conferences

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Johanna Fischer, ecomice /FrauBlau SDG 6 practical measures for climate adaptation in the city of Freiburg