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sustainability higher and higher on their agenda, and through the GDS-Index we are seeing that responsible policy no longer represents a nice to have, but an integral layer of destination tourism strategy.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.