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Sustainability is now non-negotiable say delegates to the 2014 Sustainable Events Summit

“Sustainability is part of a concept called trust and it’s for this reason people buy from us.” This quote from Speaker Dan Germain, Head of Creative at Innocent, sums up one of the over-riding reasons for embarking on the sustainability journey, as discussed at the 2014 Sustainable Events Summit.

A plethora of brands including Innocent, Hewlett Packard, Cisco and Nestle were amongst almost 200 events industry professionals who gathered to share who is doing what, why and how when it comes to sustainable business practices.  

By the end of yesterday’s Summit, which took place at 30 Euston Square, almost 70% of delegates surveyed said that that sustainability is now non-negotiable in order to achieve a better business and more responsible events strategies.  

In the opening plenary, Fiona Pelham, Co-Founder of the Summit and Managing Director of Positive Impact, reviewed the progress the events sector has made since last year’s inaugural one-day event. She then launched the ‘Share A Positive Impact’ campaign, designed to encourage people to share what inspires them about an event’s approach to the economy, environment and society.  

“The more we can all learn about the event industry’s impact, the more we can collaborate for the greater good,” Positive Impact, Managing Director, Fiona Pelham says. A series of morning break-out seminars then dealt with the key reasons why companies implement sustainability. These include, to build brand, because our customers what this, and because it makes good business sense.

These sessions featured Hewlett-Packard’s Head of Events Western Europe Jane Culcheth Beard, Inder Poonaji, Nestle’s Head of Safety, Health and Environment Sustainability, plus Cori Drogemuller, Cisco’s Head of Communications and Sustainability in the North.  

“At Nestle, we focus on the mantra of ‘Shared Value’. Part of that means working with our supply chain to ensure positive collaboration. In Scotland for example, 64 farmers produce all the milk for the KitKats we eat. That means that 70% of a KitKat’s ingredients are locally sourced,” says Nestle’s Inder Poonaji.  

After lunch, The Sustainable Events Summit 2014 addressed what companies can do to get their sustainability journey underway. Three break-out sessions discussed driving culture change within businesses, reporting systems and measurement, and how to speak to clients about the importance of sustainability.  

The Summit closed with a plenary session featuring Olympic Gold Medallist Etienne Stott MBE and Lucy Siegle, Presenter of the One Show.  

Etienne Stott MBE says: “In my sport we focus on the small details of how to make a canoe go faster. This means simplifying everything down into easy-to-make decisions. People can only make the choice to implement sustainability if it’s presented as a simplified concept. Once you cut through the bewilderment you can decide where to make the biggest impact. Then you can drill down into the small details that make all the difference.”  

Rick Stainton, Managing Director of Smyle and Co-Founder of the Sustainable Events Summit 2014 says: “We are absolutely delighted by the response and engagement shown by events professionals towards driving a more sustainable industry. The Twitter feed during the Summit has been red hot and delegates have shown a real passion and understanding of the issues and their importance. The challenge now is for companies to implement what they’ve learned and drive a cultural change within their organisations. The will exists for more sustainable thinking. By next year’s Summit, we would like to start seeing real results across the industry.”

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