Business event leaders from Wyboston Lakes, beam and etc venues join Michael Begley, managing director of venuedirectory.com, to assess the sustainability landscape ahead of this November’s COP27
This November’s COP27 marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the past three decades we’ve come a long way in terms of better understanding and addressing our impact on the planet, but there’s still significant work required to keep the 1.5c target alive.
However, as business events professionals we know that bringing people together is the best way to drive action. Over 6,000 visitors from more than 10 countries are expected in Sharm El-Sheikh – the world will be watching and willing for progress.
As business event professionals we too can play our part and I’m set to share some great examples of work already being undertaken by venues and associations across the UK as well as detail my own experience at venuedirectory.com.
Supporting ‘green wayfinding’
At venuedirectory.com we’ve seen demand among planners for green venues continue to rise. Currently, one of the biggest search filters for venues is ‘sustainability’ and the term also figures highly in many RFPs. In the last six months alone over 180,000 RFPs have been shared, via our database, with sustainable venues.
We want to support planners in their search for green venues and have introduced a Carbon Neutral logo alongside each relevant venue profile. This icon enables planners to instantly identify truly sustainable venues. To gain this accolade, venues have to demonstrate a clear commitment to sustainability and gained accreditation for their sustainability activities through recognised schemes such as Green Key, Green Tourism Standard, Green Meetings from Green Tourism and ECOsmart.
We also support planners in their ‘green wayfinding’ by prioritising sustainably accredited venues in all searches of our 400,000-strong database. There are nearly 3,000 green venues on our database and counting. We anticipate this number will double over the next year as venues respond to planners’ sustainability requirements. Most recently, Kew Green, PPHE, and Newflex Citibase have all joined our database as green accredited and carbon neutral venues.
The journey to carbon neutral
The journey to net zero is a challenging and real progress can only be made by taking a collective approach. Much of the industry, however, is united behind the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative – the events industry’s global campaign to achieve net zero carbon by 2050 – which now has over 400 supporting organisations from 55 countries.
Steve Jones, Managing Director of Wyboston Lakes Resort explains; “Working towards being carbon neutral is very important to us and using 100 per cent green electric energy has helped us significantly reduce our carbon footprint. While we have been implementing energy reduction initiatives for many years, we have now committed to a four year Green Energy Roadmap that includes a range of plans for solar, wind and water sourced generation.”
At venuedirectory.com we’ve partnered with Trees4Travel to help us to neutralise our carbon emissions through tree growing and UN-certified carbon credits. Trees4Travel also calculate and neutralise emissions generated from our own events including the recent Instant Book Summit hosted by beam.
Accredited and accountable
Many organisations are turning to sustainability certification bodies in order to build – and be held accountable to – a roadmap to measure and mitigate their impact. These certifications also serve as a ‘badge of honour’ which instantly communicates the standard of sustainability credentials. At venuedirectory.com we prioritise venues who have recognised accreditations including Green Tourism’s Green Meetings, EcoSmart, Green Key and IACC.
Louisa Watson, sustainability director at beam, explains the importance of nationally-recognised accreditations. “We have found that accreditation schemes are highly valuable in helping organisations to drive and maintain progress in introducing sustainability initiatives. With so many day to day work pressures, it is easy for sustainability to drop down the priorities. The targets and assessment deadlines that accreditation schemes provide help to keep the need for action in focus.”
Focus on F&B
Minimising an event’s food footprint is key. In the UK, over 3.6 million tonnes of food is wasted by businesses involved in the supply of food – everyone from farmers and growers, to manufacturers and processors, to wholesalers, retailers and food service companies. It’s a major issue for venues that host meetings and events trying to minimise over-catering – the perennial issue of Fear of Running Out – while they are also trying to reduce what is not used in preparing dishes. etc.venues, for instance is recycling 25,000 kgs of coffee grounds that it creates each year and is now sending them to become fuel for biomass boilers. In addition, its chefs try to use parts of vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away in salads and other dishes.
Small steps to sustainability
Sustainability has long been at the core of venuedirectory.com and over the years we’ve learnt that having a sustainability strategy is just as important as having a strategy that’s sustainable.
By this I mean taking small, incremental steps and setting goals that are truly achievable – milestones that we can reach and make a part of our history. However, we accept there will be changes and challenges along the way and regularly review our actions to determine how to build and improve on them.
Michael Begley is managing director of venuedirectory.com