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EIC Releases Event Sustainability Principles, Encourages Planners to Sign On

Nine months in the making, the four principles go beyond environmental elements to incorporate all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

On January 24, the Events Industry Council, comprising more than 30 member organizations within the meetings and events business, unveiled four principles designed to guide and motivate event organizers worldwide to embrace and implement sustainable practices in their work. These principles can be found on a new page within the Sustainability section of EIC's web site

A group of 18 EIC members and nonmembers representing both planners and suppliers convened twice in 2018—first during the IMEX Frankfurt exhibition in May and then at the IMEX America exhibition in Las Vegas in October—to identify principles that would fully encompass the idea of sustainability. This includes not only the environmental aspects of meetings and events, but also the economic and social elements that sustain workers, residents, and cultures in event destinations. In fact, the United Nations had a representative in the EIC working group to help match up the four principles to the 17 goals within the U.N.'s Sustainable Development framework that supports social and economic justice.

"The Principles for Sustainable Events can be an initial guide to assist all actors involved in the events industry in accelerating the transformation towards a sustainable, climate-neutral world,” said Hillary Green, program officer for the Sustainable U.N. Initiative within the U.N.'s Environment division.

Mariela McIlwraith, director of industry advancement for EIC, says that "this is the first time we have clearly defined what a fully sustainable event is." From here, EIC's next step is to persuade meeting and event planners to become signatories, which means they agree to try to adapt their events to meet the four sustainability principles. Over time, EIC hopes to collect case studies from these planners about how they adapted their events to adhere to each principle, thus creating an educational resource for other planners. And even for those who aren't ready to become signatories, "the principles are a great starting point for planners to talk to their suppliers, and for planners to talk to their bosses, about how we can drive sustainability forward from the environmental perspective and also from the social perspective—we have a responsibility to support all parties in the economy who are connected to our business."

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