Sustainability Practices for Meetings & Events
Generating over 1 trillion dollars in direct spending annually, the Global Events industry is one of the leading economic influencers in the world. With an impact this large, it begs the question; Other than the economy, what other aspects of society are being influenced? According to Hillary Green, program officer for the United Nations’ Sustainable UN Initiative, states, “Given their volume and visibility, events represent an enormous opportunity to increase sustainability…and raise awareness among individuals and organizations”.
This push for green and sustainable meetings isn’t new, the event industry has been opting for unique, eco-friendly approaches that will help reduce their carbon footprint for the past several years. However, the Sustainable UN Initiative has prompted a more strategic, unified push for sustainable meetings and events.
In January, the EIC, Events Industry Council, utilized this platform to publish the ‘Principles for Sustainable Events’, in hopes of educating and influencing the implementation of sustainable practices among event planners and event attendees alike.
As defined by the EIC, “Sustainability for events means taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy”.
4 sustainability principles outlined by the Events Industry Council
The Council published 4 principles, which outline basic practices through environmental, social and economic sectors:
- Shared responsibility among event organizers and suppliers to communicate and implement sustainable practices.
- Basic environmental practices, including:
- Awareness and conservation of resources, such as water,energy (electric) and natural resources.
- Waste management.
- Managing/reducing CO2 emissions.
- Preservation of biodiversity.
- Responsible purchasing.
- Basic social considerations, such as:
- Impact on community.
- Impact on human rights.
- Labor/Employee practices.
- Culture representation and respect.
- Health & Well-being.
- Basic actions to support economies, including:
- Mindful collaborations.
- Support by local/small enterprises.
- Responsible governing party.
Incorporate sustainability principles into your event
The common theme of these 4 principles suggests that working together to implement these practices will in turn create a positive and sustainable impact by the Global Event industry for years to come. So just what can meeting planners do to incorporate these principles into their meetings?
1.) Select a GREEN Venue – A perfect venue is imperative to the success of any event, but looking beyond the space, guest accommodations and overall vibe is something not many meeting planners do. One of the best ways to decrease your event’s carbon footprint is by finding the perfect eco-friendly venue. This means selecting modern spaces with up-to-date efficient systems that conserve electricity through lighting and smart temperature controls. It also doesn’t hurt to be familiar with venue’s waste management process when it comes to recycling and composting. In fact, many hotels’ now have a “green certification” which can resolve all of your food waste concerns and serve your attendees with several environmentally friendly alternatives!
2.) Donating Leftovers – Leftovers are pretty much expected with just about any event requiring food service. According to the National Resources Defense Council, it is estimated that about 40 percent of all food served in the United States goes uneaten. Imagine being able to package and donate that uneaten food to local shelters or soup kitchens! Not only would this capture your attendee’s attention, but also spark action within the community holding the event, to create more sustainable practices.
3.) Donating Time – Looking for new ways to get your group immersed in the local scene? A great way to do this is with a CSR activity. Consider incorporating a beach cleanup or perhaps a garden/harvesting session into your program.
By adding these eco-friendly tips to your program not only will you be helping the environment, you’ll be giving your group the gift of going green!
Whether you need help selecting the ideal ‘green’ hotel or determining an environmentally conscious activity, turn to the staff at Visit Newport Beach, the destination marketing organization for Newport Beach, CA. Visit Newport Beach opens the doors to this Pacific paradise with destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources to ease the planning process.