At Cvent CONNECT Europe, a panel of industry experts led a discussion on the state of sustainable events and outlined a roadmap on how event professionals around the world can meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. The panellists, which included the CEO of Positive Impact Fiona Pelham, Nicola Stopps, CEO of Simply Sustainable, John Kelly, senior director of marketing at BCD Meetings and Events, and Judy Elvey, director of marketing at Cvent, highlighted key action items including the importance of measurement, trends in client expectations, and the potential for collaboration between global event industry leadership and the United Nations.
The panel unveiled initial survey results and outlined top takeaways from the ‘Acceleration Commitment,’ Engaging the global events industry with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), which identifies action items to create a sustainable event industry. The survey was launched in August by Positive Impact in partnership with Cvent, a market-leading meetings, events and hospitality technology provider.
Other partners of the acceleration action include PCMA, Maritz Global Events, Oregon Convention Center and IMEX. To date, more than 7,500 event professionals from 58 countries have made commitments to act on sustainability priorities by participating in the online survey, which is part of the My World Survey.
Respondents cited Climate Action (UN SDG number 13) as their top event sustainability priority, which highlights the current geopolitical climate in which the global population is wanting to better understand the impact of travel to events. Other priorities were food donation, health and well-being, and education. Respondents were asked to commit to priorities and were given the opportunity to suggest their own actions to support each sustainable development goal. Suggestions included incentivising the use of public transport at events and procuring food from local suppliers to craft hyper-local menus.
All responses were collated and analysed by Positive Impact, a global not for profit, which exists to engage, educate and collaborate to create a sustainable event industry. The results were used to create an ‘Acceleration Action’ to identify key actions to accelerate progress to a more sustainable event industry. Fiona Pelham, CEO of Positive Impact, delivered the Acceleration Action during the recent UN Sustainable Development Goal Summit in New York.
Speaking on the panel, Fiona Pelham discussed the research findings and defined immediate priorities for the global events industry:
· Gather 100,000 commitments for action via the UN SDG Action Campaign My World Survey.
· Establish events as key opportunities to progress UN SDG number four, Quality Education. Events bring people together to collaborate, learn, and innovate, and it is this idea-sharing environment that truly fosters quality education around the world.
· Expand resources available to support a sustainable event industry.
· Enable corporate organisations to report on events within their annual sustainability reports which are becoming increasingly important for company stakeholders.
Judy Elvey, director of marketing for Cvent comments: “There has been a lot of talk about creating a more sustainable events industry, but it is difficult to drive change with just conversation. One of the reasons this research and initiative are so important is because it raises the bar for our industry and paves the way for delivering more climate conscious events, in addition to educating and guiding event professionals on how to make their own event programmes more sustainable. Thousands within the industry have already shown their commitment by responding to the My World Survey, but I would urge others to have their say too! By sharing views and collaborating, we can create solutions and new processes which go above and beyond rhetoric and truly drive change, and work on a practical level too.”
Positive Impact CEO Fiona Pelham who launched the event industry acceleration action in New York said: “The conversation has shifted from pledges and best practice or case study sharing to a demand for clear and measurable action. The potential impact of the event industry is significant. During August, event professionals from 58 countries completed the My World Survey and this has given us an idea of the potential impact of their action. For example, we know in the next 12 months over 1 million kilograms of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will be avoided due to event planners serving plant-based food rather than meat-based. The more data we can share, the more we can raise the profile of the global event industry, impact policy, and support responsible event behaviour.”