Keeping the Sustainability Conversation Running

3rd December 2019

Boardroom talked to Judy Elvey, Director of Marketing, Europe at Cvent about how associations integrate sustainability more and more into their events.

According to you, is there a growing trend of associations organising more sustainable events?

I think the sustainability trend is definitely growing and momentum is starting to pick up at a much faster pace. The events industry (including associations) now recognize there is a responsibility to ensure we all work together to create more climate conscious events. Cvent takes its role as an educator (and not solely a technology provider) very seriously and it’s one of the reasons we have a partnership with Positive Impact, which over the past few years, has been dedicated to creating a more sustainable events industry. Recently we worked with them on a global research initiative to get priorities and views from the events industry and crucially, look at different ways we can unite and meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Over the past few years there have been many conversations on this topic, but it’s difficult to drive change with conversation alone. I do believe many of us working in the industry are open to the change but need guidance to make it work on a practical level.

In what ways can they contribute to a more sustainable events industry?

Certainly, by being vocal and actively participating in the global research initiative I mentioned which is still live. It’s important that as many of those working in the events industry have their say. For anyone wishing to take part, you can click on UN SDG Action Campaign My World Survey

One way is to look at cutting down on the usage of paper and of course, working for Cvent, I can vouch for the huge benefit that technology plays to support more sustainable events.For example, there is no need for printing out multiple copies of brochures or printing out yarns of paper for event attendance lists and event programmes when everything can be accessed via a mobile app. I think it’s important to look at using recycled badges and lanyards. I’m increasingly seeing more organizers doing this!

Another step associations (and the industry at large) can take is to look at cutting down on meaningless giveaways at events.Many swag items often end up in landfills. That’s not to say you stop the giving, but look at utilising digital leave behinds, which can still have a powerful impact for members and prospects – and are also much more easily tracked so you can prove value.

Can you give an example of a recent association event with a strong sustainable dimension to it?

I’m going to declare an interest as the current President for the UK Chapter of MPI at this point. However, the association really does walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to supporting sustainability and the events that are organized. For example, a recent MPI roundtable event ensured at least the starter was plant based and it was held at The Langham, which was recently awarded ‘Sustainable Hotel of the Year’ at the Hotel Cateys – it’s keeping in mind how can we as association can reduce the carbon foot-print.

At another MPI event in Manchester, instead of creating the typical big stand which would have a limited time span, the association used boards of brown recycled paper and asked everyone in the industry to write on the boards with their views on how we can all work towards making more climate conscious events. There was a big buzz around this and lots of discussion on social media.  We also used a beehive on the stand to attract attention and start conversation, bee’s being synonymous with Manchester and a symbol of growing concern for climate change.

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