It's the Year of Sustainability

April 21, 2017
By Fiona Pelham, founder of Positive Impact and managing director of Sustainable Events Ltd

The United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This is of particular importance to those of us in the meetings industry, where sustainability is an essential trend and promising business opportunity.

Many clients we want to work with – corporations, associations and government organizations – are actively focused on sustainable development goals and looking for ways to support them. Not surprisingly, as more millennials ascend to leadership positions, business is seen more and more as a force for meaningful change.

Deloitte’s Millennial Survey states, “Businesses might argue that addressing wider social issues is not their primary reason for being but millennials do expect businesses to do more than simply seek financial success.”

In other words, they will want to hear what you are doing to have a positive impact. Approximately 17 stock exchanges around the world recommend that listed companies report on their environmental, social and governance impacts.

Yet, research undertaken in 2016 by Positive Impact for the Global Sustainable Events Summit shows that of 100 international meetings professionals interviewed only 18 percent said they shared or published their event's sustainability report. From an operational perspective, this means there is likely to be an increasing number of events who ask their supply chain for measurements such as energy usage, food waste and community engagement hours.

What this highlights is the need for prioritization and a sustainability strategy. Sustainable tourism is more than a growing trend; it is measure of business success.

With Earth Day around the corner, it’s a great time to start your sustainability journey and create a plan for your organization. In addition, Positive Impact has a yearlong campaign to demonstrate the power of meetings and events during the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and there are many ways to participate. Our goal is to give meeting and event professionals the opportunity to partner with universities, associations, media and other sponsors to educate audiences and inspire action.

For example, we are working with ambassadors around the world today to share practical examples of sustainable events on Twitter using the hashtag #CSRShareDay. We expect 24 hours of conversation to take place to share best practices and demonstrate the potential meetings and events have in delivering positive social, economic and environmental impacts. We hope you will join us.

To learn more about our organization and ways to participate in the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, please click here.