AMI Summit puts sustainability and inclusion in focus

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AMI Summit

The first AMI Summit tackled the big issues facing the international association world and wider society: sustainability and inclusion.

As part of The Meetings Show pre-show conference, the first in-person edition of the AMI Summit saw association professionals gather at ExCeL on Wednesday, June 28th to discuss how to drive sustainability and ensure all organisations and their meetings are accessible and inclusive. 

Anna Abdelnoor, founder of event sustainability body isla, lead the first session, ‘Beyond planting trees how can associations make a real difference?’ with panellists, Dermot Ryan of K.I.T Group, Milda Salciute of GDS-Movement and Chloe Menhinick of the International Currency Association. 

Panellists discussed how international meetings generate a huge amount of carbon emissions but highlighted the role they play in economic uplift.

“You can defend the industry that you’re in, but you have to be taking action at the same time, otherwise how do we justify it?" Menhinick said. 

Abdelnoor added that any sustainable changes an association implements must be meaningful and not just a box ticking exercise. 

The conversation led to how you can make those meaningful changes with all panellists agreeing it starts with measuring what you’re doing. 

“We’re all doing something already, even if we don’t realise it,” said Ryan. “Even tracking gender balance in your speakers at your conference is data that you can use and learn from.” 

Ultimately, the panel agreed that organisations need to be self-critical and challenge their processes in order to make real change. 

The ‘Access All Areas’ session, moderatored by AMI editor, James Lancaster, found panellists Tracy Bury of World Physiotherapy, Rob Eveleigh of Brightelm and Marjolein Oorsprong of PRACE, discussed strategies to ensure members and delegates feel welcome and heard. 

Everything from physical access to events to ensuring there are alcohol-free options available was discussed as part of the session. Oorsprong said that to her, diversity and inclusion meant fixing the system that created the non-level playing field and actively seeking to level it. 

Levelling the playing field begins with finding out what your delegates’ and members’ needs are, and this can be done in a registration survey, she said.

“We’re already asking questions on the registration form, so why not just add a few more to make sure those delegates are catered for and can access the event and its content?” 

Bury added that one of the World Physiotherapy Congresses ran over the same dates as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, meaning that she and the team needed to ensure observing Muslim delegates had a dedicated space at the congress to break the fast.

It’s these considerations, Bury explained, that make your delegates feel seen, heard and valued.

Holly Patrick
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Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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