Overshooting the Mark

Author: Sherrif Karamat       

Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat, CAE,
President & CEO, PCMA and CEMA

Usually, when you overshoot the mark, it’s a good thing, like when you exceed your goals. But Earth Overshoot Day is no cause for celebration. This year, we reached Earth Overshoot Day on Aug. 2, marking the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day, the Global Footprint Network combines data and forms the most reasonable assumptions to assess humanity’s resource situation. Earth Overshoot Day would have landed even sooner — on March 13 — if the world’s population lived like residents of North America.

It’s a sobering data point that underscores the urgency of shifting to a circular economy, whose model of production and consumption involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials for as long as possible.

While we as an industry have gone to great efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials we use at our events, more needs to be done and we have far to go on the sustainability front. PCMA is endeavoring to lead the business events industry in that journey.

To that end, we hired our first head of global sustainability, Carolina Goradesky, who has hit the ground running since starting in mid-May. Due in large part to her initiatives, PCMA has earned a certificate badge from the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainability and Social Impact Foundations Certificate Program, which reviews an organization’s existing policies and plans.

At the first stage, we are mapping out areas where we can make an impact. At the same time, we are invested in developing collaborations with organizations that will be active players in delivering our objectives. AGU (American Geophysical Union) is one such partnership. A worldwide thought leader on climate change impact and innovation, AGU will help us design sustainable events, convene conversations related to risk and climate change, support the business events community with education and tools, and establish goals for meaningful progress in the reduction of carbon and actual offset programs.

Most recently, at Convening EMEA, held Sept. 20-22 in Copenhagen — one of the world’s leading sustainable meetings destinations — we announced the launch of a new climate-tech event to take place in 2024 in partnership with the National Convention Bureaux of Europe. The one-day conference will be focused on exploring groundbreaking innovations and cutting-edge climate-friendly technologies to reimagine business events and create new business models. Put another way, new technologies make an indispensable contribution to sustainable meetings and turn the task ahead of the meetings industry into a twin transformation of sustainability and digitalization. We’ll be exploring such questions as: Is the transition to net-zero events based on a circular economy globally possible?

Business events are an essential tool for solving complex issues, and the cli- mate crisis is the No. 1 challenge of our time. We have before us a unique opportunity — and responsibility — to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Visa Issues

The world has enthusiastically embraced the return to face-to-face events since the pandemic shut them down, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to bring the world together to help our society move forward. One roadblock standing in the way has been long visa wait times for individuals from different parts of the globe seeking to attend events in the United States. Convene Managing Editor Casey Gale explores what is being done to fix this problem on Capitol Hill and how our industry is contributing to efforts to make it easier to bring global participants to events on U.S. soil.

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