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Wanted: vision, focus and storytelling (at stake: our survival)

Wanted: vision, focus and storytelling (at stake: our survival)

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What is ‘NetZero Events’, the international commitment of the MICE industry? What do ChatGPT and artificial intelligence for events mean? Companies still far from defining sustainability targets in MICE
It's one of the first times, but I'm afraid it wont be the last. One executive told me that at his management committee meeting, the idea of ​​flying 200 people to another city for the Christmas party prompted the argument “in a moment of climate drama, it's irresponsible to fly so many people for a dinner”. This is not yet heard much but we can bet that this type of argument will get more common. What does our industry have to say in the face of this growing challenge? Well, not much yet, but we have to work on it, because the future of the planet and our jobs depend on this. It is urgent to understand our impact well, to have a clear vision, and to know how to argue the values ​​of the events. Although there are many actors who are aware of and involved in making us more responsible, globally we in the meetings industry have not done our homework. By Eric Mottard

Anyone who listens to society and public opinion will understand that the environmental impact of events may soon be seen as irresponsible. And therefore, it is an existential threat for us, besides the obvious need to save the planet. The hellish summer that we have seen could serve as a turning point in environmental awareness, and our responsibility is to have a strategy in the face of this enormous challenge. Given this, a few thoughts.

We have a considerable impact, and we have to understand it. You know it: event use a lot of transport, buffets, impressive sets, decorations that are thrown away, gifts… which generate a lot of waste and emissions. Measuring it and having a plan to reduce it is important, and little is done so far. What we see in events is much more the search for improvements that are easy and symbolic (So you remove the plastic bottles? Big deal!…). We also see that often the transport of the guests to get to the event is not counted as part of the impact… when it should be. Our impact is everything that happens as a result of the fact that we organize the event and people attend.

We need a vision for the future. If you talk to someone from automotive or airlines, they will explain to you what they plan to do by 2035, and the roadmap to get there. Our industry, where the planning horizon is often weeks or a few months, does not have a defined CSR vision; rather, many things are managed event by event. I have not yet seen a professional in the sector comment on what an event could be in 10 years. And if we don’t have a vision, a roadmap and a way to monitor progress, it’s difficult for people to see the events sector as responsible and committed. This vision will be very complicated because we depend on what other industries do (airplanes, electricity generation…), but we will have to integrate them into this complete description, this vision.

We need to focus. As we published this summer, sustainability includes endless components, and having the possibility to improve many things facilitates greenwashing (I remove the bottles and I look sustainable, even though my event has emitted more CO2 than a town…) but above all it makes us not focus on what is essential. But the one essential thing, the one that can kill the planet and that can make your niece no longer want to attend events, are not plastic bottles, but CO2, which has to be at the center of our efforts. Without abandoning the other improvements, of course (no, I don’t want to see more plastic bottles at events…), but with an awareness of the importance of reducing emissions. Ideally emitting less CO2, alternatively offsetting emissions.

We need to explain that we are the solution. Not only do we have to ensure and demonstrate that events are not as polluting as we think, we have to know how to explain why they are necessary. Events are a tool for raising awareness, searching for solutions, stimulating innovation, training… so many essential things if we want a sustainable economy tomorrow. Greta is a child of events, the main site for finding solutions (the COP) is an event, and more generally, as we discuss in our report on the impact of events, we are talking about a tool with multiple and powerful impacts that is very positive as the creative and collective search for solutions, something that we will need if we want to solve this enormous challenge. We are “of communication”, we have to work on the storytelling of our positive impact and our necessary character for society…

All this will be complicated, but nothing will be impossible, and above all it is non-negotiable. For your job, and for the planet. Great, a challenge, we were getting bored 🙂