To coincide with this year’s World Environment Day on 5 June, OrangeDoor’s Head of Growth Edward Low shares his thoughts on why agencies need to start having more open and frank discussions with clients about sustainability…
The theme for World Environment Day 2021 is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’. This is the first year of the United Nation’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration; a ten-year project aimed at fixing the damage that has been done to our planet.
The irony of the catastrophic last year is that; global air pollution has diminished, water quality has improved across the world, snow is getting more reflective (helping combat global warming by reflecting the sun back into space), snowmelt – an important source of water to millions – is getting cleaner, noise pollution in cities and in marine habitats has dramatically reduced, and traffic congestion has significantly reduced.
If the restoration of our global ecosystems needed a kick-start, this would be it.
However, we risk throwing this boost away if we go back to doing things the way we used to. Now is the time for us to course-correct and do things differently and better.
As it should be, sustainability and our impact on the environment is a key consideration of our business here at OrangeDoor. One of our core beliefs is that ‘We must balance people, profit and the planet’, and this is reflected in our commitment and journey to becoming a B-Corp. As an agency, we have policies and methodologies that incorporate sustainability and reducing environmental impact into every choice we make on our clients’ behalves.
Much has been shared over the years about how to reduce the environmental impact of events and indeed there have been some fantastic improvements. These improvements have been driven by tactical choices – identifying the most conscious venues and suppliers, cutting out single-use plastics, reducing or removing merchandise give-aways and so on. These are incredibly important changes in behaviour, but we need to move further up the food chain.
A lot has been written recently about agencies now getting a seat at the strategic table as clients seek more support in navigating the new landscape. Here is the opportunity to have open and frank discussions about the consideration of the environment and how important it is to brands to connect actions to their values.
We are going to start a new initiative to explore how the impact and changes forced on us through the global pandemic can give us a springboard to restructure our approach to providing more sustainable events. We would like to strike while the iron’s hot. If you are interested in getting involved with this programme and contributing to the thinking, let us know.
The changing landscape may be supporting behaviour-change
There are many forces at work which are shaping our current future. Caution seems to be the most powerful, certainly with the rise of variant strains. When you couple this with businesses restricting staff travel and delegates’ lack of appetite, the future looks murky for F2F events.
However, recent large-scale test events in the UK, The Netherlands and across EMEA have indicated that (given the appropriate safety measures) attending a concert seems to have the same risk of transmission as shopping on your local high street. When you couple this with the successes in vaccine roll-out, possible lifting of restrictions, the advent of summer and people’s innate desire to meet and be merry, the future is starting to look a little more rosy. What is also interesting is that different regions will open-up at different rates and we will all learn iteratively from one another.
According to a recent brainstorming on the topic of what the exhibition and event of the future will look like, a few possibilities arose that would play to our environment’s hand:
*Fewer people will be able/allowed/want to travel – reducing emissions
*Those who do travel will only do so locally/regionally – supporting local businesses and reducing emissions
*Events and shows will come to the delegate concentrations – a much more sustainable approach
..and this marries well with interesting observations coming from our Events Industry Barometer Report from the beginning of the year, where we understood B2B customers’ expectations had caught up with those of B2C, leading to customers and employees feeling more empowered to prioritise their health and wellbeing as individuals, as well as looking to also increasingly prioritise buying from brands that demonstrate authentic empathy, purpose and selflessness when the going gets tough.
What this indicates is that there is not only an opportunity to act now, but there is also customer demand for us to do so and to show that we are doing so.
As we rebuild our businesses and the industry we commit to approaching the rebirth by integrating sustainability, ecosystem restoration and reducing waste a priority in everything we do, which will also give us a solid rationale (if ever we even needed it!) to reflect our customers’ customers’ psyches and environmental consciousness.