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Sustainability Insights on Tap at IMEX America

Many meeting pros want to take their sustainability initiatives to the next level, and the educational lineup at the Las Vegas event is ready to help.

The United Nations climate summit, COP26, runs from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the formal talks and side events, with the goal of getting countries to commit to deeper and faster emission cuts that could constrain global temperature rise. While this world event unfolds, meeting professionals will also be converging almost 5,000 miles away in Las Vegas, with an educational thread that connects the two.

IMEX America, at its heart, is a trade show for meeting- and incentive-focused buyers and suppliers. However, the November 8-11 event also produces a robust educational lineup. In addition to sessions on trends, technology, diversity, and communications, this year has an especially strong sustainability theme running through the four days of education.

Each year, IMEX selects a talking point for the show, and for 2021, the word is “nature.” That choice, says IMEX CEO Carina Bauer is “a rallying cry for us all to do more to save the planet, to protect, conserve, and help regenerate natural resources and species.”

Speakers take on the talking point from a variety of angles. In fact, “sustainability and nature” is a tag for 28 sessions, addressing circularity, carbon footprints, natural places, and how the principles of nature apply to business events.

Here are 10 sustainability sessions that caught our eye. For more, visit the searchable IMEX sessions page.

The Society for Sustainable Events is running a three-part series on circular sustainability at the show. The 30-minute sessions will focus on carbon (Tuesday, 12:30), consumption (Wednesday, 1:30), and supply-chain issues (Thursday, 11:00), and each will be led by Paul Salinger, Society for Sustainable Events; David Fiss, Sustainable Brands; and Chance Thompson, Viridescent.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of regenerative event management, which takes sustainability to the next level by thinking of it in terms of successful natural ecosystems, there’s are two classes on Smart Monday: the 1.75 hour Introduction to Regenerative Event Management Masterclass for Planners (10:00) and the 1.5 hour Introduction to Regenerative Event Management Masterclass for Destinations (1:30). A 45-minute presentation on the topic is also scheduled for the show floor (Tuesday, 11:00) All three will be lead by Alejandra Hernández Zita, Global Destination Sustainability Movement, and Alexis Kereluk, ConnectSeven Group

The Events Industry Council’s Sustainable Event Professional Certificate was reimagined and relaunched in June. Mariela McIlwraith, vice president of sustainability and industry advancement at EIC will lead a 30-minute session (Tuesday, 3:00) to review the course outline and discuss the program’s online and in-person options.

• Hands-on learners will appreciate the session on measuring and managing event carbon footprints. (Monday, 2:00-5:15) After an hour in the classroom, attendees will take a bus into the desert mountains to see and learn about MGM International’s 640-acre site with more than 300,000 solar panels. Session leaders include Yalmaz Siddiqui, MGM Resorts International; Mariela McIlwraith, vice president of sustainability and industry advancement at EIC; Robert Noble, GES Las Vegas; and Eric Wallinger, MeetGreen

Sustainable food and beverage is an important piece of designing a “green” meeting, and IMEX has included two sessions on the topic. “Eating at a Meeting: The Hottest Food Trends for Sustainable, Inclusive, and Safe events will be a one-hour discussion (Monday, 10:00) led by Tracy Stuckrath, thrive! Meetings & events. The 30-minute “Designing Event Menus with Sustainability in Mind” (Wednesday, 11:30) will include tips for reducing food waste and a discussion of food donation, led by Hilton executives Zena Phillips and Toni Zoblotsky.

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