Sustainability: Canada wants to create 'marker for change' for international meetings

Sustainability /  / 
Vancouver Conference and Exhibition Centre Vancouver Convention Centre Photo Credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

An ambitious plan to reduce the environmental harm caused by business events – including international association conferences – has been launched in Canada.

The ‘first-of-its-kind’ Canadian Business Events Sustainability Plan seeks to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability practices of business events.

It will focus on the Sustainable Development Goals of individual cities and will be rolled out to international clients to accelerate the industry’s progress toward net zero targets. 

Coaching, training, and education opportunities will be provided to more than 20 suppliers to the meetings industry to build on their existing sustainability programmes and support new ones.

The plan will focus on international association conferences, trade exhibitions, workshops, and seminars, as well as corporate meetings and incentive group events. 

“Developing and launching sustainable business event programs is not an option anymore. If our industry is to meet net zero targets by no later than 2050, the entire supply chain must work in partnership to find and implement powerful solutions,” said Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Destination Canada Business Events. 

“As one of the world’s first national sustainability plans for business events, Destination Canada’s Canadian Business Events Sustainability Plan will provide a national support arm to this supply chain and be the figurative rising tide that lifts all ships.”

 A major research project, beginning now, will inform the plan. The project will evaluate where Canadian cities, as hosts for business events, stand today in terms of their existing sustainability initiatives and will be used to measure and track change in the years to come. 

“We want to do this right and we want to hold ourselves accountable,” added De Visscher. 

“By establishing a baseline for impact and assessing the Sustainable Development Goals and actions already being taken by our domestic partners – like Tourisme Montréal’s new Harmonious Destination strategy in partnership with Aéroports de Montréal and the GHG Carbone Boréal offset program and Destination Vancouver’s program with Binners' Project which has already enabled the city to divert 75 per cent of the waste generated by business events, out of landfills – we’re creating a marker for change.”

Chantal Sturk-Nadeau Executive Director, Business Events, Destination Canada, added: "This plan gives us a real opportunity to move the needle on the sustainability of the business events industry. It's a milestone not only for Destination Canada but for our industry as a whole and we're so proud to be leading it." 

Meanwhile Destination Canada has commissioned a Legacy Impact Study. Led by #MEET4IMPACT and Gaining Edge, the multi-year study will evaluate the impact of several past conferences in the six key economic sectors that Canada excels in: life sciences, natural resources, finance and insurance, advanced manufacturing, agribusiness and technology. The aim is to produce an algorithm to accurately estimate the social benefits of any given conference.


James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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