The Events Industry Council called together sustainability leaders in the event and tourism industry for the first ever Sustainable Event Standards Industry Forum held in Frankfurt, Germany, prior to the start of the IMEX Frankfurt show. The forum brought together global organizations that have sustainable criteria or standards relating to the events or tourism industry to explore ways to collaborate and share their expertise in sustainable event practices or standards. Individuals who are stakeholders or have an interest in event sustainability goals also attended. Along with Las Vegas Sands, other organizations included the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, UFI, World Wildlife Fund, and the Events Industry Council. Through Las Vegas Sands’ Sands ECO360 global sustainability program, green meetings and events have been a priority for the company as a whole in reducing their environmental footprint.
“The objective of the forum was to bring together key participants in the green meeting industry to build a foundation for wide-spread adoption of sustainable practices in the events industry,” Katarina Tesarova, vice president of Global Sustainability, said. “There are very passionate people coming from every corner of the industry worldwide that are trying to include sustainable practices in their own work resulting in faster adoption of green meetings. The aspiration for this meeting was to get industry professionals to agree on what event sustainability is and what the common principles of event sustainability are. From here, it is now much easier to work on alignment of the various green meeting standards.”
Because Las Vegas Sands operates in the United States, Macao and Singapore, Tesarova said she was unaware of all the great work that went into event sustainability in many European countries. The summit contained a few short presentations about various event sustainability standards followed by a facilitated open discussion amongst the attendees. The group committed to next steps which include comments and feedback for the principles, endorsement and consideration on whether having one standard for events sustainability is possible and practical.
“It’s quite an honor to represent ‘venues’ on this diverse panel,” she said. “It takes many different people and companies to produce a successful event – from the company that decides to host a conference and the company that helps to coordinate everything, to various suppliers that provide logistics, audio-visual equipment, entertainment, food and beverage, to hotels that accommodate attendees and the venue where the event takes place. All these participants contribute to a green meeting in their own way and they also face unique challenges. Bringing everyone’s voice to this discussion from the beginning results in better understanding of the entire process and deeper collaboration.”
This was the first time these organizations came together to explore ways to mutually support sustainable practices in the events industry. The Events Industry Council’s more than 30 member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry.
“I am very proud that we were able to build a green meetings program that is now recognized in the green meetings industry,” Tesarova said. “We partner with our clients to collectively come up with solutions to the environmental issues associated with meetings and conventions and we continuously learn from them. So by extension, it is our clients that help us develop this expertise and I tried very hard to make sure that I brought their perspective to the discussion. Through our green meetings program we focus on reducing the impacts of events on the environment by first looking at our operations then see where we can improve our own efficiency through energy and waste conservation, waste recycling and sustainable sourcing. Then we work closely with our clients to address their sustainability priorities. I believe this openness to new ideas and issues brought by our clients continues to make our program better and better.”