Sustainability guide for Basel

 Welcome to Basel – your sustainable destination for meetings and events! Our checklist guarantees you a more eco-friendly stay.
© Basel Tourismus

âś“ Basel is a sustainable destination

ST-Kurzclip Rheinschwimmen 2022

Basel is «Swisstainable Destination».

a. Basel Tourism’s sustainability strategy

Basel Tourism is fully committed to sustainability. “For Basel Tourism, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a principle we want to embed within tourism development,” says Letizia Elia, Director of Basel Tourism. The focus on quality tourism has already paved the way for this. Basel Tourism undertakes to use resources responsibly and contribute to minimising tourism’s environmental footprint. The goal is to establish Basel as a sustainable, open travel destination and add value for guests and all stakeholders in the region.

b. Swisstainable Destination

Swisstainable Destination was launched in April 2023 as part of the evolution of the “Swisstainable” sustainability programme. This programme aims to position Switzerland as a sustainable country for tourism going forward and achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In September 2023, Basel became one of the first three tourism destinations in Switzerland to reach Swisstainable Destination Level I – just six months after the programme was launched. 

This classification reflects Basel-based businesses’ commitment to responsible, sustainable tourism in the city. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses here started putting sustainability into practice a long time ago and have been optimizing it ever since. Basel aims to position itself as a sustainable tourism destination. Basel Tourism wants to make sustainability tangible and motivate and support local businesses.

c. Net zero by 2037 

In November 2022, the citizens in the canton of Basel-Stadt approved the plan to achieve net zero by 2037. This means that, by 2037, if all goes to plan, the canton will not emit more greenhouse gases than can be absorbed naturally or by technical means.

âś“ Central location

Dreiländereck - Ursprung

The tri-border area links Switzerland to Germany and France.

a. Central location at the heart of Europe

Basel’s central location at the heart of Europe and its good rail links automatically make every business meeting and event you organize in the city sustainable. Why? Because, alongside catering and accommodation, travel is one of the key factors when organizing a resource-efficient meeting or event.

b. The compact city

Meeting venues, Messe Basel and Congress Center Basel are centrally located and just a stone’s throw away from hotels, restaurants, the Old Town and the Rhine. 

In Basel, everything is within walking distance or reachable by public transport. The city of Basel and its region have excellent public transport that is renowned for its punctuality, short waiting times and modern vehicles. The tram lines even extend beyond Switzerland’s borders, and EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is just a 15-minute bus ride away from Basel’s city centre. 

c. Free travel by public transport with the BaselCard

The BaselCard lets overnight guests travel by public transport for free. You just need to show the booking confirmation from your hotel or Airbnb in Basel to get a free ticket for the transfer from the train station or airport to your hotel.

d. Major transport hub

Basel is a major transport hub and has three stations – the Swiss SBB railway station, the French SNCF railway station and the German Badischer Bahnhof – offering outstanding connections to all Swiss cities and the major European cities.  

Basel has direct ICE, IC, EC and TGV links from Germany, Austria, France, Italy and the Benelux countries, with trains arriving in the city around the clock – day and night. 

e. Deutsche Bahn event tickets 

Planning a business event, trade fair or congress and want to give your attendees an easy – and climate-neutral – way of getting there? Deutsche Bahn offers what it calls “event tickets” – an eco-friendly mobility solution. This attractive offer is available on train journeys from any German train station to Basel.

âś“ “Energiestadt Gold” accreditation 

@ MCH Group

a. Reduction in CO2

Basel has obtained all its electricity from renewable sources since 2009 and boasts Switzerland’s largest district heating network, primarily fuelled by waste heat and wood-fired power plants. This network will be expanded by 2035 to replace any remaining fossil-fuel heat sources, reducing CO2 emissions by around 70,000 tonnes per year.

b. Messe & Congress Center Basel as an electricity producer

Generating around 2 million kWh per year, Messe Basel isn’t just an events venue – it’s also a serious electricity producer. A photovoltaic system was installed on the north side of the roof on Hall 1 back in 1999. With panels covering 1900 m², it generates 215,000 kWh per year. Furthermore, a system four times its size was installed on the south side in 2013. This project, undertaken in collaboration with an investor, generates around 1,080,000 kWh of electricity per year for the IWB (Industrielle Werke Basel) grid. In addition, district association “Wettstein 21” is given free access to the roof on Congress Center Basel, where it has been operating an additional photovoltaic system since 2014, generating around 180,000 kWh of electricity per year.

c. European Energy Award Gold 

Thanks to its exemplary energy policies, Basel won the European Energy Award Gold for the fifth time in 2022. The city continuously campaigns for efficient use of energy, climate protection and renewable energies.

d. 2000 watts per person

The city of Basel has been committed to realising the vision of a 2000-watt society since 2001. As things stand, energy consumption is very unevenly distributed around the world. The goal is to give everyone access to 2000 watts of continuous power – now and in the future. For Basel, this entails reducing energy consumption gradually to 2000 watts per person.

âś“ High-quality (drinking) water 

a. Exceptionally high-quality drinking water

Switzerland is known for the outstanding quality of its drinking water. Glass bottles or carafes can be refilled with water straight from the tap, meaning there’s no need to spend money on mineral water.  

There’s no shortage of water sources when you’re out and about, either, as the quality of the water in Basel’s fountains makes it more than good enough to drink. It’s easy to fill up your own bottle straight from a fountain during a walk – a welcome relief, particularly on hot days. 

b. Swimming in the clean water of the Rhine

Swimming in the Rhine is the most popular form of summer exercise in Basel – loved by locals and tourists alike. It’s made even better by the fact that the Rhine contains such good-quality water.

Top tip: a dip in the Rhine is the perfect addition to the supporting programme during a congress. During Art Basel, many of the gallery owners can be seen taking the plunge into the cool water. You can put your clothes in a “Wickelfisch” swim bag and simply let the gentle current carry you through the picturesque Old Town.

âś“ Waste separation and recycling  

© Bau- und Verkehrsdepartement

a. Reduce waste by recycling

In Switzerland, you have to pay to dispose of waste, while the disposal of glass, cardboard, compost, paper, PET bottles and metal is free. It’s therefore worth sorting your waste properly for financial reasons alone. 

b. Reuse it rather than dispose of it   

The use of reusable materials is actively encouraged and practised in Basel – and the rest of Switzerland: 

  • Environmental aspect
    Encouraging the use of reusable packaging aligns with Switzerland’s efforts in the areas of environmental protection and waste avoidance. People are encouraged to play an active role and use reusable materials in order to reduce the environmental footprint.
  • Take-back system
    There are well-organized take-back systems in place to ensure that empty reusable packaging is collected, cleaned and reused.
  • Deposit system
    A deposit is payable on reusable glass bottles: consumers pay a little extra when buying products that come in reusable glass bottles, but they get this money back when they return the empty bottles.

c. Rent rather than buy

Rent materials for your meetings instead of buying them: 

OFFCUT collects used and leftover materials that would otherwise go to waste. These materials are sorted, stored and then resold for new projects, thereby extending their useful life. OFFCUT makes the Swiss population aware of the importance of adopting a mindful approach towards resources and offers creative responses to the environmental challenges of our time..

Leihlager (rental depot) provides an array of items for hire – from party and event accessories to multimedia and electrical equipment.

d. Avoid food waste

Reduce food waste in order to make your catering sustainable. Arrange to work with a local association/institution in advance so that they can distribute any leftover food. We recommend working with Schweizer Tafel, Foodsharing or Too Good To Go.

âś“ Reduce your carbon footprint

a. Make a climate-protection contribution

Give attendees the chance to make a climate-protection contribution, e.g. via Cause we Care or South Pole.

  • myclimate’s Cause We Care initiative promotes climate protection and sustainable tourism in Switzerland. Businesses within the tourism industry, associations and private individuals actively work together to support climate protection.
  • South Pole helps businesses, investors and governments reduce their CO2 emissions and work towards creating a more climate-conscious world.

Basel Tourism also does its bit here by offering guests who make online bookings the opportunity to make a small, voluntary contribution towards climate protection and sustainability. As a member of Cause We Care, Basel Tourism matches every contribution made, thereby supporting a project in Uganda that provides clean drinking water without the need to boil it, which helps reduce CO2 emissions.

b. myclimate event calculator

Try to minimize your carbon footprint and keep your event as climate-friendly as possible – by choosing eco-friendly crockery and transport, for example. Use the myclimate event calculator to work out the unavoidable CO2 emissions that remain and support myclimate’s climate protection projects on this basis.

✓ Stay a while. It’s worth it.

Basel HD - Loic Lagarde 2020 - 01

Stay a while in Basel and discover Basel’s art.

a. Extend your stay

There’s an unbelievable amount to discover in Basel – from art, architecture and culinary delights to events and unique shopping experiences. So why not extend your stay and explore Basel for pleasure?  

b. From Basel to the rest of Switzerland

Basel is the gateway to Switzerland. Being less than 60 minutes away from Zurich, and only an hour or so away from Bern and Lucerne, makes Basel the ideal starting point for trips to the rest of Switzerland. 

If you’re spending a few days in Basel, you can easily visit the Swiss Alps, the Black Forest or Alsace. Various day trips make your stay even more memorable. 

c. ONE city, THREE countries  

It’s likely that you’ll never have visited three different countries in such a short space of time before. Experience the tri-border area and visit the neighbouring countries of Germany and France.

âś“ Climate-friendly meeting venues and accommodation

Aussenansicht des GAIA Hotels Basel.

A sustainable stay at the four-star Hotel Gaia © Gaia Hotel

Various venues guarantee sustainable events:

Basel also has a range of sustainable accommodation options. The four-star Hotel Gaia has the highest sustainability credentials, including the top Swiss sustainability label – Platinum from Ibex Fairstay. The hotel is the first and only establishment in Basel and Baselland to have achieved this Platinum status.

âś“ Brilliantly local

4. Cutting of Leckerly

Welcome gift – Basler Läckerli © Jakob's Basler Leckerly

a. Local welcome gifts

Fancy a Läckerli biscuit? The canton of Basel-Stadt sponsors welcome gifts for meeting organizers and event planners in the form of delicious Basler Läckerli.

b. Sustainable activities

Incorporate sustainable activities into your event programme. How about a guided city tour organised by Surprise, or a workshop on urban-grown mushrooms?

c. Sustainable restaurants

A growing number of restaurants in Basel are primarily offering cuisine made with organic ingredients from the region and also helping to prevent food waste. Recommend sustainable restaurants in Basel to your attendees.

âś“ We create added value

Aussenansicht der Event Halle auf dem Messeplatz Basel.

Plan the best possible event in Basel © MCH Messe Schweiz (Basel) AG

Use your event to have a positive and lasting impact on the destination – and leave a legacy. Your commitment outlasts the event and gives something positive back to the destination. Make the idea of leaving a legacy part of your event programme. There are all kind of ways to do this: at conventions, you might consider opening up certain sessions or workshops to the public, for example.

The Basel Convention Bureau would be happy to assist with other bespoke ideas and help you plan a sustainable event.


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