Dont’ invent!



# tags: Events , Sustainability

The integration of sustainable criteria in events has long ceased to be a “nice to have”.

Increasingly, society is looking for ways to minimise its impact on the environment and save resources.

And this happens in all sectors, because the path of sustainability is the path of the future.

Gone are the days when event organisers had as an excuse the financial investment necessary for not organising a sustainable event.

Sustainable events have many benefits and clearly contribute to sustainable development. Not only do they help reduce CO2 emissions, they also promote equal opportunities, inclusion and local economies. According to the United Nations, a sustainable event is an event conceived and organized to fulfil two objectives: to minimise all potential negative impacts on the environment and to leave a beneficial legacy for the host community and for all involved.

The first thing to do? Don’t invent an event! A sustainable event is an event with a purpose. Having a purpose is the first sign of sustainability. The second thing? Don’t invent at an event.

A sustainable event requires planning and coordination to meet specific objectives and actions that must be regularly evaluated and, ultimately, verified by competent authorities.

Considering the United Nations definition, I understand that the best way to address all aspects of sustainability is to include the United Nations’ own Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in event planning and understand how your event addresses these challenges locally. Use the 17 goals fearlessly, even when your event appears to only address a few of them. The truth is that if you look at the 17 SDGs your perspective on sustainability will likely reach new and different levels.

Let’s take the example of environmental impact. Reducing CO2 emissions is clearly an advantage. Many sustainable events are also carbon neutral, meaning they take into account the emissions that could not be avoided during the event.

Minimising environmental impact is directly related to SDGs 11 and 13 (sustainable communities and climate action), but there are other aspects that must be considered. Reducing the amount of waste and ensuring proper management, reducing water and electricity consumption, mitigating air, noise and light pollution, favouring spaces with natural light and clean air, ensuring a place where safe mobility is possible, healthy and sustainable and that encourages public and shared transport, ensure that selected catering companies are obliged to avoid packaging, using reusable tableware, prioritising the use of dispensers and bulk bottles for food and drinks and promote local, seasonal products that are organic or from fair trade, or preserving biodiversity are all issues directly linked to SDG 12 on production and consumption, SDG 7 on energy, SDG 18 on biodiversity, in addition to SDG 11 and 13.

But sustainable events can go beyond concern for environmental impact. Promoting inclusion and equal opportunities for men and women or translating events into sign language, encouraging barrier‑free access for people with reduced mobility, boosting the local economy, promoting events with all conditions of public health and safety assured and respecting the local or business culture will necessarily contribute to several SDGs linked to health, education, inequalities, decent work or peace and justice (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 or 16). Finally, promoting transparency through communication and avoid greenwashing at all costs, because a sustainable event involves effort and commitment that must be shared with society, or finding new partners and supporting small and medium-sized companies locally, ensuring participation. of all stakeholders, are factors that will definitely contribute to SDGs 8, 9, 11 and 17. It is important that the purpose of an event is clear and justified so that the message is also clear. Inspiring climate awareness is everyone’s duty and each of us may be surprised at what a small change can do to influence the perception of many. Organising entities have the power to demonstrate the benefits of a sustainable event, including the economic benefits they derive from it. This is also called “leading by example”.

It is crucial to get the message across that events are and should be sustainable and that, if they are, we will all be beneficiaries. Organisers avoid damage and risk to your brand, generate savings and revenue opportunities, attract more audience, more committed employees, new customers, sponsors and suppliers. Participants enjoy more convenient, more rewarding and valuable events, making them more aware and involved.

The planet benefits from saving resources.

© Maria João Ramos Opinion

Strategic Management and Communication of projects focused on Sustainable Development