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The Power of Events to Help Solve the World’s Biggest Problems

Positive Impact, the U.K.–based not-for-profit focused on creating a more sustainable events industry, has wrapped up its year-long campaign dovetailing with the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development with a 32-page report that draws out connections between the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the potential for events to help reach those goals.

The report is in parts visionary and idealistic, while at the same time offering case studies and recommendations that bring the ideas down to the practical. It invites readers to imagine the events industry as the solution to challenges as deep and as far ranging as gender inequality, food poverty, climate change, and peace and justice in the world, and leads the reader through scenarios that make the goals seem less quixotic and more tangible. Positive Impact also worked with five academics who identified a sustainable development goal they wished to provide commentary on in the context of the events industry. Those commentaries are included in the report.

“In this report, we imagine if anything was possible and look at the potential positive impact events could have,” comments Fiona Pelham, CEO of Positive Impact. “For example, if we had the legal structure and local infrastructure to address event food waste, how the event industry could further the UN SDG zero food poverty. Or if our industry demonstrated best practice and created education panels or event content which communicated a balanced gender viewpoint, how we could further the SDG gender equality.

“This report demonstrates two opportunities for the event industry,” Pelham continues. “The first to take responsible action which is good business sense. The second is to tell the story of the powerful positive impact that events can have so more companies, governments, etc., use events and our industry grows. In a time of increasing technological ability and high levels of security, telling the story of meeting face to face is vital.”

Positive Impact’s 2017 campaign launched on the premise that events are essential to reaching the UN’s sustainable development goals because of their role in bringing people together to learn and innovate. Its aim for the year was to tell the story of the power of events, and during 2017 it provided more than 1 million opportunities for event professionals to be educated in sustainability by distributing monthly education to industry associations and sharing examples of event sustainability practices on social media, including the annual #CSRshareDay Twitter campaign, which reached over 1.6 million people.

Positive Impact called the completion of its report on its 2017 activities a jumping off point for 2018, when it intends to begin a new campaign focused on collaboration. Its four goals for next year are to:
1. Share 100 examples of global collaboration to tell the story of the power of events and inspire positive action
2. Support the creation of over 100 roadmaps to help the industry collaborate on taking action
3. Gather at least 2,000 ambassadors and inspire and support them to take positive action
4. Share over 1,000 stories on the power of events to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and use these stories to create education, research, and innovation.

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