During its 2024 Convening Leaders conference in early January, the Professional Convention Management Association announced the name and dates of a new conference it is creating that will focus on the environmental sustainability of business events and emerging climate technology.
Named Climate Tech Summit, the conference will take place on October 2 and 3, at the conclusion of the Convening EMEA conference that begins on September 30 in Barcelona and which is expected to attract 500 attendees.
Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA, told the 4,200 attendees of the Convening Leaders conference in San Diego that the association’s burgeoning partnership with the American Geophysical Union to promote event-sustainability initiatives played a role in the development of this event.
In addition, the support of the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe, a network of 29 national destination marketing organizations, allowed the conference to come about.
At a press conference that took place right after the announcement at Convening Leaders, Karamat noted that the new event will happen in Europe rather than in the United States because “we believe the Europeans are ahead of the U.S. on the sustainability issue, and we were able to get 29 national organizations to be part of it.”
Leonard Hoops, PCMA’s 2024 chair as well as president and CEO of Visit Indy, told MeetingsNet that the new conference “is not intended to be something where we expect people to get on a transatlantic flight to attend. First, there will be virtual options [for viewing the content], and second, this will be the same sort of content and discussions that will happen in the U.S. down the road.”
Hoops added that “this is something that Sherrif has a personal passion for. He believes strongly in PCMA taking a leadership role to help our industry be more sustainable in everything from carbon emissions to the more basic elements that go into putting on a conference or trade show, because we're the biggest believers in the face-to-face medium.”
Having a Broader Impact on Events’ Carbon Emissions
When asked about the fact that carbon emissions from participant travel—representing roughly 80 percent of the total carbon footprint of a typical off-site business event—are mostly out of planners’ control, Hoops noted that “in addition to being the chair of PCMA, I serve on the U.S. Travel Association board and that’s a pretty big deal” when it comes to addressing this issue.
Specifically, the USTA board “discusses everything from visa wait times for international attendees to how we can influence the powers that be who are producing the greatest carbon footprint [such as airlines] to have technologies and strategies to reduce that output. They're the ones who are going to have to innovate their way out of this situation.”
Further, “what Sherrif also believes in strongly is being a constant advocate and doing what we can to make a difference with the 20-percent side of the issue, while also staying on the case of other organizations to be catalysts for change with the 80-percent side of the issue,” Hoops said.
More details about the PCMA’s new event-sustainability conference will be announced in the near future.