by Alex Palmer | August 03, 2017
When it comes to using events and meetings to help the environment, every little bit helps, from cutting out bottled water to expanding a convention's recycling program. But it's also valuable to step back and take a look at the big-picture impact of sustainable practices over a longer period of time. That's the approach taken by professional conference organizer MCI, which early in July released its latest sustainability report, celebrating the company's 10 years of green initiatives and the impact these have made.

Titled "A Decade of Dedication," the report lays out how some of the Switzerland-based organization's results since 2006 -- when MCI board members attending the European Growth Summit decided to develop and launch a comprehensive sustainability strategy. This included the creation of a Sustainability Services department, with ambitious goals to encourage sustainability from suppliers, a reduction in MCI's own environmental footprint, and efforts to help clients improve their own eco-friendly behavior.

After 10 years, the organization has impressive progress to report. It has reduced carbon emissions by 12 percent, raised more than $6.6 million for 468 community projects, and trained more than 33,361 suppliers, clients, and employees in sustainable behavior -- to name just a few accomplishments.

When asked if there was a sustainability accomplishment he was particularly proud of, Guy Bigwood, group sustainability director for MCI, says, "All of them, really." But he adds that of special note are the more than 850 sustainability projects the organization has delivered. "Here we have helped many of the most important sustainability initiatives in the world."

He points to the example of the 8th World Water Forum, in March 2018. MCI Brazil has been tapped to help organize the event, which will hold more than 40 simultaneous sessions, along with an exhibition hall, all dedicated to promoting awareness and discussion of the environmentally sustainable management and use of water. The event is expected to draw more than 8,000 participants and 40,000 visitors, including government officials.

In addition to this kind of large-scale sustainability project, Bigwood also cites as one of the decade's sustainability accomplishments, "the time volunteered by our talent to raise money and share their skills" on hundreds of local projects.

He sums up the reasons for the organization's accomplishments as: "(1) A dedicated sustainability team that is 100 percent focused on driving the sustainability agenda; (2) The executive management team 100 percent supports this emotionally, politically, and financially; and (3) A team of 100-plus sustainability champions in our offices who drive sustainability actions on a local basis every day."

But while MCI is celebrating a fruitful decade, Bigwood emphasizes that they have far more to do. Specifically, they will strive to reach the organization's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The SDGs define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of 17 goals and targets," explains Bigwood.

He adds that MCI sees these goals as "an overarching framework" for the group's expansive sustainability strategies and activities.

"These goals have the potential to help us to identify new business opportunities, strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, and to better measure and communicate the value of our sustainability program," he adds. The full report can be downloaded here.