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Sustainability in Event Planning: More than Environmental Impact

By October 1, 2022November 1st, 2023No Comments

Oftentimes we receive an event brief that has ‘must apply sustainability/green meeting principle‘ as event mandatory. When we ask clients what they perceive as sustainability, their answer would nearly always touch upon waste management and carbon footprint. Not surprisingly, one single participant of an event is a significant contributor to landfills and CO2 emissions. This illustration from Skift Meetings gives a picture of how much each participant produces exactly:

The revelation of these amounts and the growing concern and awareness of the public regarding environmental issues have been the drivers of change in how event organizers run their business. Eco friendly event collaterals and partners becomes a norm and the use of eco friendly transport is encouraged. If you google “sustainability in event planning” right now, anything that appears on the SERP can be used as a guide, tool, and reference. For instance, check out Green Business Bureau or Gevme

When we were briefed about Sustainability Day by our client Maybank, we ofcourse were ready with an event concept that included waste management partners, mindful vendors, and eco friendly collaterals. We learned however from our client that the concept of sustainability is more than just eco friendliness. Sustainability captures all three pillars of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG). Keeping the surroundings of the event clean and minimizing the amount of waste are just some parts of sustainability, but it is not what sustainability stands for in event planning and implementation.

If we intend to truly apply sustainability in our events, we would need to take ESG in our consideration. This includes:

  • Environment:
    • APEX/ASTM environmentally sustainable event standards. In total there are 9 independent standards, each pertaining to a particular part of an event (accommodations, audio-visual, communication, destination, exhibit, F&B, venue, on site office, transportation)
  • Social
    • How will the event benefit the local economy and local communities?
    • How will the event contribute to the development and improvement of social impact organizations and/or communities (CSR)?
  • Governance
    • Is the event organizing company applying sustainability practices?
    • Are the employees encouraged to contribute their time for social impact?

We realized that being sustainable in our event planning is more than replacing plastic cups and having recycling bins. There is still much to learn about being fully and wholly sustainable and now is the time to start, because our consumers are becoming more and more demanding in having cost-effective and sustainable events.