What Planners Can Do to Make Events More Sustainable

Author: Ken Budd       

Sustainable Development Goals

Reusing banners and other signage that isn’t date-, location-, or event-specific is a great way to make your event more sustainable. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a comprehensive list for creating a more sustainable future — and a growing number of companies are using them as a framework to guide their own sustainability efforts. As part of Convene‘s March 2020 CMP Series story “A To-Do List for Planet Earth’s Planners,” here a few ways that event organizers can incorporate the SDGs:

Get certified. The EIC and the Sustainable Event Alliance offer an accreditation program. With EIC’s Sustainable Event Standards, events can be certified platinum, gold, silver, or bronze. ASTM International also offers sustainable meeting standards.

Search for certified venues. IACC offers a Green Star certification for venues that meet a sustainability code, which covers 60 areas, from water conservation to waste management.

Look for SDG-friendly locations. Location choice is one of the easiest ways to implement sustainable practices, said sustainability expert Mercedes Hunt of Map & Compass Consulting. This might include cities or states that emphasize energy conservation, offer opportunities to collaborate with local communities, and have strong policies against human trafficking.


Mark Cooper

Reduce your transportation footprint. Search for cities with robust public transportation and encourage attendees to use ride-sharing and minibuses over taxis. Also look for transport companies that use eco-friendly vehicles, such as hybrids or electric cars, IACC’s Mark Cooper suggested.

Reuse banners. Those banners you print each year for your event? They’re super toxic and never break down, Hunt said. “If you’re going to use the typical banners for events,” she said, “don’t put a date on them — reuse them year after year.”

Pick innovative venues. Look for more than recycling bins. The Crowne Plaza Peachtree in Atlanta gets 35 percent of its power from its rooftop solar panels and Swedish-based hotel Sigtunahojden makes staff uniforms from recycled materials, Cooper pointed out.

Don’t overlook the less-obvious SDGs. Human trafficking is a good example. The more events a city hosts, the greater the increase in human trafficking and prostitution, said EIC’s Amy Calvert. EIC is developing a partnership with ECPAT International, which is working to end the sexual exploitation of children and to help educate event organizers about the issue.

Strike up the Brand

To show their commitment to the SDGs, organizations can download free UN Sustainable Development Goal logos to use on their websites. Just go to the UN’s Sustainable Development page and under the “News and Media” click “Communications materials.”

“The free logos are so cool,” said Mercedes Hunt of Map & Compass Consulting. “Anybody can put these on their website and say, ‘Okay, we’re aligning ourselves with goals four and seven, and here’s what this means to us.’”


Earn One Hour of CE Credit

This story is part of Convene‘s CMP Series cover story for March 2020. After reading “A To-Do List for Planet Earth’s Planners,” and the related stories listed at the bottom of that post, you will be ready to earn one hour of CE credit toward CMP certification from the Events Industry Council. To take an online test to earn that CE credit, and for access to additional CMP Series stories, go to Convene‘s CMP Series page.

The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is a registered trademark of the Events Industry Council.

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