Sustainability remains a hot topic in the events industry, but what will be the key focus for this year? Is carbon counting still the main priority, or will there be a shift in 2024? And how do we move the conversation on and ensure we keep moving in the right direction?
Who better to answer these questions than our Power 50 Green Champions? The Power 50 list features 50 individuals in the UK events industry who are devoting their time, passion and energy to making a positive impact on the planet.
So, we asked five of our Green Champions what’s next for event sustainability, and what their focus and goals are for this year…
Warren Campbell, general manager, 15Hatfields
With sustainability legislation such as the Energy Performance Certificate tightening, I think carbon reduction and measurement will continue as a key theme in 2024. Venues should be planning their investment strategies to ensure their properties are compliant and carbon negative by 2030.
In 2024, we will be continuing to transparently focus efforts on three primary UN Sustainable Development Goals: 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production and 12 – Climate Action, as well as two secondary goals. Behind the scenes we have been working towards ISO 14001 and hope to secure the standard for environmental management systems in the Spring.
Following our recent investment in a new carbon monitoring tool, we will be offering greater clarity to event planners about the direct impact of their events, alongside ongoing guidance on how it can be reduced.
The dial is shifting, which we’re whole-heartedly welcoming. As the Meetings Industry Association’s latest mia Insights revealed in November, 88% of venues are seeing an increase in demand for more sustainable practices.
We’d love to see more organisations committing to ESG, and eventually, I hope we’ll witness an evolution where the industry is not only seeking sustainability accreditations but is instead truly embracing its environmental impact from a social, climatic and energy performance perspective.
Neil Evans, managing director, Nteractive
We need to accelerate sustainability because whilst change is happening, it’s going far too slowly. Our industry’s first consideration has been the impact of the people experience with the primary emphasis on the creative design and participant journey, with the planet experience and sustainability consequences coming secondary. We must continue to strive to blend these two priorities together from the outset.
We need to emotionally connect delegates, so they think and behave differently before even attending the event. There’s an underlying perception that sustainability practices drive worse experiences, but I think that’s the absolute opposite. With the right communication everyone feels collectively responsible and part of a better experience.
Measurement and reporting are vitally important to show progress and impacts; I think that the collision of data and science is the only way we can influence behavioural change.
Our priority for 2024 is twofold; we must continue to put our own house in order, ensuring our internal procedures and practices are as sustainable as possible. We will also continue investment in education, measurement tools, and resources to help clients, getting down to a nuts-and-bolts level, and taking a practical and pragmatic approach to design better experiences.
As an industry I would like to see us coming together more, to share data and best practice. Ultimately, I’d like to see more connectivity, with us all learning from each other and working collectively for the betterment of our industry and planet.
Sam Morgan, executive head chef, The Venues Collection
Carbon measurement is here to stay and there is even talk of it becoming legislation in the same way that venues must provide allergens and calorific content of the food served. More and more clients are asking about sustainability; I had more conversations in the second half of 2023 than ever before, and we have worked with many companies to enable them to report on their net zero and sustainability goals.
At The Venues Collection, we are continuing to improve the way we measure, report, and understand our impact and I can only see this increasing in popularity with our clients. Our priority is to continue to learn. We know where our products come from, but we now want to understand how they are grown and fed, so we will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure we have as much information as possible to make better choices.
My target is to cut 100 tonnes of Co2 emissions per year across all our venues by the introduction of our new plant-based desserts in 2024. We’ve been working to create dairy free options of all the classics which taste as good as or even better than the originals.
Moving forward, I would like to see more education and information available to organisers so that they can make informed choices.
Ellen Carpenter Green, senior product designer, HeadBox
Carbon measurement and reduction will still be a big focus in 2024 as there’s a long way to go until we can accurately measure the carbon footprint of every event. There’s so much scope to make the process quicker and easier for event planners and suppliers. For many of the corporates we work with, Net Zero targets need to be hit by 2025, so having the necessary measurements for their whole meetings and events programmes will become increasingly urgent.
I also think that a more holistic view of sustainability will become important in 2024. We’re hearing our clients talk about themes like supporting biodiversity and generating positive social impact through their events, as well as reducing carbon emissions.
With the launch of HeadBox Zero in early January, we’ll be providing tools to all of our corporate bookers to estimate the carbon footprint of their events during the planning process, at the point of decision, and make changes to help them reduce it, rather than simply measure it after the fact. This is a huge step forward and our priority in 2024 will be working with clients to improve and expand the HeadBox Zero suite.
We will also be continuing our journey towards B Corp accreditation, and working to reduce our own direct carbon emissions in line with our Net Zero goal of 2030.
It would be great to see sustainability and positive impact as core considerations in event planning, on a par with budget. Lots of our clients are doing excellent work to make this a reality, including setting carbon budgets alongside financial budgets.
Louisa Watson, Director of Marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort.
Carbon measurement and reduction will continue to be the focus of attention. These are fundamental to any organisation getting it right and maintaining focus and individual business still have a lot of work to do in this area.
We have several priorities in 2024 including progressing Phase 2 of our Green Energy Plan and we have also committed to the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI) and will be focusing on our reduction plan.
By the end of the year, I would like to have completed Phase 2 of our Green Energy Plan and started preparations for Phase 3 and have a good handle on our Scope 3 emissions with a robust plan in place to reduce in this area, including influencing and measuring delegate travel.
One of our objectives is to be Net Zero in Scope 1 and 2 by the end of 2027 so this year is important to ensure we are well on way to achieving this. We also have a strong focus on our water reduction project and would like to have achieved some strong wins here.
In terms of the wider industry, I would like to see more organisations measuring their carbon footprint consistently as this is fundamental to us all, and for the industry agreement on how to influence, manage and measure delegate travel.