This week IMEX Group published its first externally verified sustainability report for IMEX Frankfurt, the European counterpart to the IMEX America conference and trade show for the meetings and events industry. IMEX called the report a step in the ongoing process of improving the show’s environmental impact and “an important milestone in IMEX’s Pathway to Net Zero.”
That “pathway” is one being traveled by close to 500 signatories of a sustainability pledge introduced by the Net-Zero Carbon Events campaign at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2021. Specifically, meetings and event industry organizations, such as IMEX Group, Kenes Group, MCI, Maritz Global Events, Freeman, Informa (MeetingsNet’s parent company), and many others, have committed to a 50-percent reduction in their carbon emissions by 2030, and to producing net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Since the launch of the pledge at COP26 in November 2021, the Net-Zero Carbon Events campaign has rolled out several publicly available resources, which are useful whether an organization is setting its sights on net-zero emissions or simply educating itself on the emission-reduction process:
• Quick Guide to Getting Started, published in Q1 2022, is a 14-page report on the groundwork needed for an emission-reduction program to succeed. The document has nine sections on topics such as communication, training, and carbon measurement, and includes a glossary of terms.
• A Net-Zero Roadmap for the Events Industry was officially released at the UN’s November 2022 Climate Change Conference, COP27. The 78-page document provides a framework to guide organizations in their transition to net-zero emissions, accompanied by a Route to Net-Zero Executive Summary.
The NZCE campaign is now in its “workstream” phase, with plans to deliver concrete best practices and guidance in eight areas aligned with the roadmap. Volunteer workstream teams are diving into the details of
• carbon offsetting,
• venue energy,
• production and waste,
• food and food waste,
• logistics, and
• travel and accommodations.
The next waypoint for the campaign is COP29, which will convene in the United Arab Emirates in November. “If there is one thing we know for sure in our industry, it’s that events are definite deadlines for your work. And it is no different here,” says Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, who has been part of the NZCE process from its early days and serves as board member at the Joint Meetings Industry Council, which is coordinating the Net-Zero initiative. “The whole global debate and decision-making process around the Paris Climate Accord is timed between the respective COPs. They are the milestones for everyone to report on their progress, including us.”
Working toward their November goals, the eight workstream groups are “making good progress,” reports Hattendorf. “All are progressing equally and simultaneously, and they are interacting with each other on priority action areas.” Hattendorf estimates that about 50 industry professionals from more than 30 different supporting organizations are involved in the workstream teams. A document describing each workstream’s purview is available on the NZCE resource page.
This year the organization is also continuing to raise its profile. It’s delivering content through social channels (#NetZeroCarbonEvents) to encourage more organizations to sign the Pledge and support it with financial contributions. “As a growing number of participating companies are sharing about their involvement, and will begin to publish their progress reports,” says Hattendorf, “that word will get out through ever more voices from all across the industry.”