6 key steps to unlocking green events and meetings

In an industry which lacks standardisation for sustainability, CWT recommends six small but impactful steps to take.

Achieving sustainability in business events shouldn’t purely be on the shoulders of event planners, attendees can help contribute to it as well.
Achieving sustainability in business events shouldn’t purely be on the shoulders of event planners, attendees can help contribute to it as well. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Khaosai Wongnatthakan

As physical meetings and events pop up in abundance all around the world, the volume of waste is also skyrocketing. CWT director of global process & implementation, Kristen Bell, questions if the pandemic has truly changed the way the MICE sector operates, or if bad habits die hard.

“I’ve found myself wondering over the past few weeks whether the pandemic has really helped change behaviour for the long term,” Bell said. “Doesn’t it feel like we have just reverted to 2019 ways of doing things without really stopping to breathe and think about whether there could be a better way?”

Bell suggests the following six steps which companies can adopt to make sustainable practices habitual:

1. Spread it far and wide through the company

Company sustainability goals should be embraced and embodied across the company in every department and team to ensure that it becomes part of the business culture. CWT has seen sustainability questions in RFPs for years, but the meeting owner may not be as engaged or have the budget for it. Bell’s advice is to “start small, and build upon your strategy”.

2. Look further than you can see

Meeting planners should look beyond the agenda of their next meeting and ask themselves several questions: What behaviour is it driving? What is the purpose of the overall trip?

While more are planning trip batch to save cost, it may also arise in hectic itineraries. Spreading the days out would be more ideal as delegates and attendees have ample time in the destination to meet others and explore the area.

3. Encourage sustainability in attendees

Event planners need not take on the full responsibility for sustainability. It can also be inculcated in attendees throughout the event via communications that encourage them to car pool or asking them what eco-friendly behaviours they are adopting in their personal lives.

Additionally, looking for more sustainable travel routes or methods and booking flights with sustainable aviation fuel will go a long way in getting attendees to adopt sustainability.

4. Measure carbon emissions

Planners can decide what carbon emissions they want to measure and consistently act on it across all their events to get a baseline which they can then improve upon, since the metrics for measurement vary greatly and the industry lacks standardisation in this area.

These findings can also be shared with attendees to show them the impact it creates on the environment to drive more meaningful action.

5. Let your green voice be heard

Bell encourages MICE suppliers “to shout, and I mean shout, about their eco-credentials. That info needs to be readily available to those sourcing suppliers for events so that this information can be visible to decision-makers.”

6. Seek to reuse, reduce and recycle

Event planners should consider the circular economy across every element in the process of planning events. They can ask themselves questions such as: Where have items come from? Where will they go afterwards? Can they be re-used or shared with the local community?



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