‘More to be done’ as meetings industry leaders meet at COP25

Meetings and events leaders addressed some of the big sustainability challenges facing the industry during a panel discussion at the UN Climate Conference COP25, in Madrid, last week.

Speakers included Mark Cooper, CEO of the International Association of Conference Centres, Mariela McIlwraith, from the Events Industry Council (EIC), Yalmaz Siddiqui VP, corporate sustainability at MGM Resorts International and Marta Muñoz from the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Cooper gave examples of how IACC and its 400 members were becoming more sustainable.

And he said their efforts could make a significant difference.

“When you consider those venues host more than two million events a year you can see how the smallest changes can make a big impact on the wider industry,” he said.

In October IACC became the first organisation to attain one of the highest levels of the EIC’s Sustainable Event Standards for its Europe Knowledge Festival event in Brussels.

The discussion focused on some of the initiatives that IACC put in place for the event, including: healthy food options such as a vegan lunch; water stations, with compostable and recyclable cups or refillable glass bottles for all delegates; all signage, badges and other information printed on sustainable materials such as recyclable card with no plastic, or available electronically and, for the pre-conference study tour, all delegates travelled by train or electric/hybrid cars.

The presentation closed with the three pledges that Europe Knowledge Festival attendees committed to – eradicate all single use plastic bottles, remove all single-use coffee cups from guest rooms and create an online repository of information on how to become more sustainable.

“I am passionate about creating a more sustainable meetings and events industry,” Cooper said. “While we have made great efforts and headway in recent years there is still more to be done and through the sharing of knowledge and best practice with our industry colleagues it can be done.”

Amy Calvert, CEO of the EIC, said: “The EIC and its members, such as IACC, are committed to developing education, training, and standards that will enable organisers around the world to deliver sustainable events that make a meaningful difference.”

Ahead of the conference Cooper was announced chair-elect for the Events Industry Council board and will assume his role on 1st January 2020.