by Matt Alderton | January 28, 2019
The Events Industry Council has published the "Principles for Sustainable Events," a new, simplified set of guidelines, the organization announced last week. This resource was developed by representatives of global events, tourism and sustainability bodies during two successive forums, the first at IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany, and the second at IMEX America. They consist of four principles designed to help meeting professionals embrace and implement environmentally friendly event practices.
The meetings industry had been flirting with the topic for over a decade -- since at least 2008, when the EIC conceived its Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Panel on Green Meeting and Event Practices, which in 2013 published the last of nine sustainable-event standards in partnership with international standards body ASTM International.

Unfortunately, years after endorsing the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards, the meetings industry has continued to impact the environment. To continue moving the needle toward sustainability, the EIC was moved to produce the new principles.

"The potential to transform our industry through the widespread adoption of sustainable events principles is inspiring," said EIC Board Chair Tina Wehmeir. "Developed with extensive global input and derived from an examination of industry standards, global sustainability frameworks and alignment with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, we are confident these principles will serve to unify the events industry's commitment to a more sustainable world."

The four principles -- which focus not only on environmental stewardship, but also social responsibility -- are:

1. Event organizers and suppliers share responsibility for implementing and communicating sustainable practices to their stakeholders;

2. Basic environmental practices include: conservation of resources, including water, energy and natural resources; waste management; carbon-emissions reduction and management; supply-chain management and responsible purchasing; and biodiversity preservation;

3. Basic social considerations include: universal human rights, community impacts, labor practices, respect for culture, safety and security, and health and well-being;

4. Sustainable events support thriving economic practices through: collaboration and partnerships; local support, including small and medium enterprises; stakeholder participation; equitable economic impact; transparency, and responsible governance.

"Millions of events take place each year with millions of participants in attendance. Given their volume and visibility, events represent an enormous opportunity to increase sustainability on the ground and to raise awareness among individuals and organizations," said Hillary Green, program officer for the United Nations' Sustainable UN Initiative.

So far, more than 60 associations, multinational companies, and small and medium-sized enterprises from 13 countries have signed on to the principles as endorsers. Organizations that wish to join them can do so at the EIC's website.