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Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in every industry, especially hospitality. It’s an evolving concept and not intended to be limited only to environmental aspects of business – it is now commonly utilized in two more dimensions: social and economical. These three sustainability dimensions are now adopted by innovative hospitality and events organizations.

Nevertheless, for this article we’ll focus on the most popular: environmental sustainability. This is due to some shocking statistics – the world throws out 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year. During the same amount of time, 12 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans. It’s no surprise that hotels, resorts and, in particular, event organisers are looking at ways they can be more sustainable.

If you’re looking to stage a music concert, sports event or food festival, how can you reduce waste, increase awareness and ensure everyone attending is committed to sustainability? In a recent lesson, Giovanni Manfredini, Glion lecturer and Head of Event Management, spoke about sustainability in events, offering key advice and information on such an important subject.

 

A global concern

Giovanni believes it’s important to raise awareness. However, it is both a slow process and quite money-sensitive. There have been many high-profile events in the past to help with this issue. In 1992, the United Nations held a landmark conference called the Earth Summit. This brought together various countries to discuss sustainability and pledge to make a positive change to the world. They addressed many topics, including:

• Alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels
• Reduction of vehicle emissions and congestion by focusing on public transportation
• The limited supply – but growing usage – of water

The resulting document, Agenda 21, saw countries agree to adhere to making the world a more sustainable place. However, the agenda is not a legally binding document and countries are only morally obligated to follow it. This means that when money is scarce, people tend to be less green.

In the present day, however, sustainability continues to be a core focus. According to Morgan and Stanley, 86% of millennial investors are interested in sustainable investing. Around 71% of investors agreed that good social, environmental and governance practices can lead to higher profitability and better long-term investments. The latter is applicable to everyday living – Giovanni highlights home insulation as something that may seem an expensive investment at the time, but has long-term financial benefits.

 

What are sustainable events aiming to do?

According to Giovanni, ‘green events’ aim to minimise the environmental impact events have caused in the past. He listed a number of things to consider when organising an event, including:
• Planning and construction of events
• Carbon reduction and energy conservation
• Waste reduction
• Local sourcing
• Merchandising and ticketing

Giovanni highlighted the Greenpeace Olympic Environmental Guidelines as a key document. The guidelines came after Sydney successfully secured the Olympics in 2000, following a “green bid.” This involved discussing ozone depletion, climate change and the production of toxic waste. Greenpeace’s guidelines proved to be a successful and important document that has influenced future global events.

 

How can we make events more sustainable?

Sustainability is a core focus in the world of events. While it can be tough, following a few key steps will make sure your event is both successful and sustainable. Here are some helpful points:

Work out your impact – You need to assess what kind of environmental impacts your event might have. Measure them out and rank them in order of importance. For example, if food wastage is your main concern, run your own festival campaign. In his lecture, Giovanni highlights PR and communications as a great way to get your attendees onside.
Make a plan – Events are all about planning, and this is no exception. Create milestones and stick to them. Additionally, set yourself realistic targets and see if for next year’s event you can beat them.
Ensure you have recycling bins – If you’re hosting an event, there’s going to be a lot of rubbish. Whether it be food wrappers, bottles or cans, there is a real danger it could end up becoming incredibly messy. By providing recycling bins in and around the area of your event, you will be making a big contribution to the environment. Ensure they are clearly signed and attendees understand which product goes in what bin.
Engage with your audience – Don’t wait until the day of the event to discuss sustainability. Get your audience involved from the very start. Discourage single-car use and recommend walking or cycling. That way, you are already reducing the event’s carbon footprint before it has even begun.

Our International Event Management specialisation provides you with key information on organising, running and promoting successful events across the globe. Want to learn more about this exciting, eclectic course? Go to our website and find out more.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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