There has been plenty of talk about green events in the past few years but relatively few really have put their money where their mouth is – especially in Asia, where being earth-friendly has yet to achieve widespread acceptance.
However, Shanghai-based Prax Capital has been a socially and ecologically committed corporate citizen since it started in 2003 as an independent private equity firm handling China-focused investments. To date, it has approximately US$300 million of assets under management. It helps companies in its portfolio to implement the highest international environmental standards, working with its developer partners – for example – to build appealing and affordable housing. The company also contributes a part of its profits to the Prax Capital Foundation, a charitable foundation that helps fund educational and environmental projects in China.
“Prax” is from the Greek word “praxis”, which means action. For Prax Capital, action does speak louder than words. When the company celebrated its Fifth Anniversary Dinner last September, this environmentally conscious company hosted one of the first carbon-neutral events in Shanghai.
Prax Capital Fifth Anniversary Dinner was aboard an exclusively chartered double-deck vessel called the Jun Zi Lan that was spruced up with flowers and other organic decorations.
In line with the green theme, all printed materials used for the event were produced on recycled paper. Gifts and evening entertainment were also created with a lot of elements that evoked nature, as souvenirs – mini orchids in recycled bags – were given to guests.
“Companies in Prax Capital’s portfolio are in the renewable energy field. So we created the concept that fitted their image and business,” says Stefano Ritella, director, HLD Event Services, which was tasked to organise the event.
It was agreed early on to make the annual dinner carbon neutral by having Prax Capital pay to offset the event’s CO2 emission. The total CO2 emission is calculated based on a number of pollution sources, including boat fuel, plane travel and ground transportation among other things.
CarbonFund.org was chosen to offset 46.892 tons of CO2 emission calculated for the event that hosted 150 people.
The Jun Zi Lan was docked along the Huangpu River, and a red carpet and a special guest reception desk were waiting for the guests at the pier.
Guests were then ushered up the ivy-decorated staircase to Deck 2 for an hour of cocktails and networking. The festivities then moved down to the lower deck for a two-hour sit-down dinner and entertainment, while the boat was cruising along the Huangpu River.
One of the highlights of the evening was presenting each guest with a CarbonFund.org certificate to verify that the Prax Capital Fifth Anniversary Dinner was a carbon-neutral event.