Cheers to human rights in Barcelona

In this blog I’ll be writing about three of my passions — sustainability, event planning, and fine food and beverages.

I’ve been producing “green” conferences, trade shows and other events around the world for the last 20+ years. Through this work I have gained a unique perspective on how different cities and venues approach sustainability. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

Whether scouting locations or producing an event, the days are long and often stressful, but evenings are the reward. At night we get to experience local culture, and finding just the right spot for a cocktail is one of the best ways to capture the unique vibe of a city. In this series, I’ll not only be sharing event planning advice— I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite cocktails with you too.

Bitter and Twisted Cocktail

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail

So sit back, relax, and let me order you a…
Bitter & Twisted – made with gin, grapefruit juice, Compari, passion fruit juice, served over ice and garnished with large slices of fresh grapefruit, from the super fun Crepes Al Born, in Barcelona’s Born district.

After 7 long days at the (spectacularly cool) Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB), when the 999th detail – flawlessly executed – has fried you as crispy as a Croqueta de Bacalao, this refreshing tropical cocktail will turn around your day and set you right for enjoying a balmy Catalonian evening.

This cocktail pairs nicely with the entrancing Modernisma architecture, the sensuality of the water’s edge; the live music wafting through the streets, and that table-side Iberian ham carver, with his leather carving glove, offering to “carve your ham,” that you just can’t say no to…

But of all my Barcelona impressions, I was most moved by the Human Rights Wall in the CCIB, a floor-to-ceiling mural displaying the articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This mural is a visceral experience. The scale and bold font, communicating the gravitas of these guiding principals, took my breath away.

In 2004, the CCIB building was conceived to host some of the exhibitions and activities of the Universal Forum of Cultures. The official goals of the event included support for peace, sustainable development, human rights, and respect for diversity. Which is where the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights comes in.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of human rights. In 1948, it established a common international standard of fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

And think about this: in 1948, not every country signed this agreement. Since then, so many nations have adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has become international law. We’ve come a long way.

This document is a key reference point to anyone involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy. Most corporations, when reporting on their human rights policies, will state that they adhere to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have to do with events?

Those of you working for large organizations are probably already aware, but the GRI Event Planning supplement, the ASTM/APEX green meeting standards, and ISO 26000 social responsibility standards all reference the UNHR. If you are green event planner and have not heard of these sustainability standards or sustainability reporting platforms, check them out.

Large-scale events involve a global supply chain. We event managers are responsible for making informed decisions, and it is essential that we make sure our suppliers are adhering to basic Human Rights standards. For example, this means that we make sure that our t-shirts and swag aren’t made in factories that use slave or child labor.

How can you know? Ask your vendors if they have a workplace code of conduct agreement with their suppliers. If you want an example, check out Patagonia’s Supplier Code of Conduct. These agreements require suppliers to adhere to safety laws and other fundamental human rights, such as:

  • No use of child labor
  • No use of forced labor
  • Right to a healthy and safe work environments
  • Right to a workplace free from discrimination
  • Right for workers to organize.

If you have any doubts that your vendor’s supplier agreements are being enforced, ask your vendor for evidence of recent factory inspections.

Once you’ve verified that you’re compliant with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, you can ask your public relations team to share the news. Knowing your event puts human dignity first is great for employee morale and customer loyalty! We’ll talk more about this in another blog with a fresh drink. For now, enjoy your cocktail and your thoughts of Barcelona’s beautiful beaches, stunning convention center, and inspiring dedication to human rights.