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Why should a company incorporate the SDGs, and how?

Why should a company incorporate the SDGs, and how?

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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
By Rebecca Johnson Because our house is on fire! Basically. Anyone who hasn’t yet witnessed at least some of the effects of our disastrous treatment of the planet - and each other - is, most likely, living under a rock. In order to try and make things better for everyone, those clever people at the UN came up with a list of 17 objectives called the Sustainable Development Goals, a kind of giant collaboration project which “address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030”. 

Easy peasy. The great thing about the UN SDGs is that they have been written to be interpreted for use in all sectors and aspects of life, so everyone gets to contribute and to understand how each other is doing. Nice, no?

How do the SDGs impact event organisers and events? Flight emissions, Overtourism, Health and Security risks – even the lately coined “Conference Shaming – are just a few of the recently commented issues that are gently nudging the MICE sector towards being defined as a “risky business”, where clients must continually review their triple bottom line (environment, social and economic impacts) in their business decisions. Fortunately all steps to counter these risks can be guided and highlighted by using the UN SDGs.

Event Organisers unite! In order to survive, the MICE industry must underline its overwhelmingly mammoth potential to effect positive environmental and social impacts. Demonstrating the compliance of an event sustainability strategy with the UN SDGs ensures credibility and underlines a commitment towards this global project that goes well beyond the usual boundaries.

So what do we do?

  • As the saying goes, less is more, and it is truly the case with the SDGs. For a more meaningful approach select a sustainability team of colleagues from across the business and evaluate together which of the SDGs are most relevant for you (tip: you don’t have to choose them all).
  • Make sure you’re on track by requesting feedback from some external stakeholders to see if their perception matches yours. Maybe you could do the same for them? It’s all about collaboration, right? (SDG 17)
  • Prioritise your selected SDGs according to the feedback.
  • Identify some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) objectives with corresponding actions for your top SDGs
  • Communicate your progress both internally and externally, allowing your stakeholders to follow and share your sustainability journey.

How the SDGs impact destinations. A destination is the sum of its parts, and no destination can afford to be let down by its weakest link. As risk abounds clients are increasingly placing sustainability higher and higher on their agenda, and through the GDS-Index we are seeing that responsible policy no longer represents a nice to have, but an integral layer of destination tourism strategy.

The SDGs represent an accessible and credible framework for all, promoting collaboration, development, regeneration and risk mitigation. A way for our sector to leave a positive print on the planet. Now, what could be more sustainable than that?

Examples of how the SDGS can be used at an event: 


GOAL 1: No Poverty : by raising awareness on local charities and offering my delegates the opportunity to collaborate

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger : by ensuring that leftover food at my event is donated to a local NGO

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being : by highlighting the importance of good health at my event

GOAL 4: Quality Education : by raising awareness on sustainability issues at my event, by ensuring training and career development opportunities for my employees

GOAL 5: Gender Equality : by ensuring my speaker panel is made up of equally male and female speakers

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation : by supporting initiatives which help those without access to clean water receive better sanitary standards via my event

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy : by researching and implementing renewable energy at my event

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth : by ensuring that the local community benefits from my event

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure : by promoting innovation at my event

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality : by ensuring access for all backgrounds at my event

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities : by contributing towards lasting positive environmental/social/economic impact in the host city of my event

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production : by ensuring a sustainable supply chain and responsible consumption at my event eg avoiding waste

GOAL 13: Climate Action : by addressing the causes and risks associated with climate change at my event

GOAL 14: Life Below Water : by raising awareness at my event eg promoting sustainable fish, removing plastics from the supply chain and sea

GOAL 15: Life on Land : by raising awareness on biodiversity at my event

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions : by promoting opportunities for international delegates to get to know each other at my event

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal : by sharing my learnings with my event organiser colleagues and suppliers to create a more sustainable destination


Rebecca Johnson is a Sustainability Consultant for the GDS Index, a destination level movement that benchmarks and improves the sustainability strategy and performance of destinations, encouraging them to become more sustainable places to visit, meet in and thrive in.

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