New Guides Launched to Support Net Zero Carbon Events

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Skift Take

Is the events industry ready to implement decarbonization and track its progress? Net Zero Carbon Events is providing a roadmap.

Once again, Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE) has used the world’s focus on the COP Summit to push for the adoption of sustainable practices across the events industry. At a hybrid press release held on Monday at ExceL London, it launched seven sustainability guides. The new resources provide a roadmap directing the events industry toward an ambitious net-zero goal.

The initiative, driven by James Rees, executive director, conferences and events at Excel London and president of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), is supported and endorsed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The expertise within the workstream teams has been of the highest level: senior operations and sustainability experts from event organizers, venues and service suppliers across the world,” said Alexander Alles, executive director of JMIC.

From Theory to Practice

Each of the seven documents contains valuable detailed guidance to help organizations progress on the decarbonization journey. The initiative’s structure anchors on the principles of “Measurement, Reporting & Verification,” “Activation & Adaptation,” and “Communication & Education.” Future work will be based on a series of projects to progress topics such as reporting, standards, certifications, and reusable stands. It will also prioritize key issues seen as central drivers of greenhouse gas reductions.

Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, highlighted the needed shift in focus from developing guidance to ensuring its implementation. “Speed remains of the essence as we need to show that the global events industry is a part of the solution to the global climate crisis,” said Hattendorf.

The real test is how the high-level strategies can translate into practical action across the board. Actions must reach beyond the conference halls to effect real-world environmental change.

Brian Brittain, COO of RX and Mark Temple-Smith, COO of Informa Markets, echoed the urgent need for collective action. They recognized that continuous vigilance on emissions is essential in the complex web of event logistics. Their commitment suggests a readiness for two of the largest trade show organizers to lead by example.

“Our focus to understand our emissions remains unwavering— but now we need to swiftly trial and amplify carbon reduction initiatives at our events. This guidance will help us do just that, but it isn’t solely for RX; it sets the pace for the entire events industry, motivating collective action towards achieving a net-zero future,” said Brittain.

What Success Looks Like

As industry leaders pledge to a greener future, the industry watches with a mixed sense of hope and scrutiny. The onus now lies in moving from grand declarations to concrete actions. A commendable vision for net zero must now translate ambitious principles into everyday practice.

The promise of a shift towards implementation in 2024 signals a new chapter. More than ever, the next phase demands commitment, engagement and the mobilization of the entire sector at all levels. “This next part needs the total commitment and active engagement of everyone from CEOs downwards to achieve net zero,” said Rees.

The success of NZCE will likely rest upon establishing a culture of accountability and consistent measurement of progress. It will also require a shared willingness to invest time, resources, and innovation into this cause.

As the industry endeavors to pivot towards a more sustainable model, unveiling these guidance documents is a significant stride forward. Still, the tangible environmental benefits realized through their adoption will be the only accurate measure of progress. Effective decarbonization stands to have a catalytic effect on the global events industry.

Net Zero Carbon Events is open to all organizations involved in events. Registration is free of charge, but financial contributions are crucial to developing the campaign.

Photo credit: Anders J / Unsplash