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Sustainable events: raising the event professional’s profile with the c-suite

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As event professionals, we can support business objectives by leveraging sustainable practices that lower cost and improve brand reputation. Events are important for driving innovation, strengthening opportunities, education and supporting the economy. This past year, the Events Industry Council released the results of a study, conducted by Oxford Economics, on the economic significance of meetings to the US economy. This study found that meetings supported a total economic impact of $845 billion USD of output (business sales), and 5.9 million jobs. Plans are underway to conduct a new study to assess our global impact. While our industry has an important impact on the economy, it also has an impact on the environment and on communities. Planning sustainable events helps to ensure that this impact is responsible all while driving business results. Also this year, in collaboration with Sustainable Brands and Radisson Hotel Group, we surveyed over 350 event professionals and found that 47 percent of organisations have a sustainability mandate, meaning that we can help achieve overall business goals through sustainable event practices.

Showing value to the C-Suite

Sustainable events can improve financial outcomes for organisations, all while improving the impact on the environment and supporting thriving communities. The benefits of sustainable practices include:

  • Economic savings through the efficient use of resources and the reduction of waste
  • Reducing corporate risks by protecting reputations and being in compliance with standards and laws
  • Contributing to favorable community legacies which can support brand trust and loyalty
  • Positioning the brand as a thought leader or innovator in their industry and a responsible business that considers its impact on the environment and society
  • Positive public relations opportunities from meaningful community service projects
  • Health benefits from improved air quality and the elimination of chemicals

Practical ways of supporting organisational objectives

Whether you’re a planner or a supplier, encouraging your organisation to adopt sustainable practices will support your overall objectives. Here are a few practical ways that you can do this.


  • Begin tracking your cost savings from opting for more sustainable choices such as reduced printing, reusing materials, opting for vegetarian meals or avoiding bottled water. You can then use the savings to splurge on sustainable upgrades for your event.
  • Prepare event sustainability reports that can be integrated into broader corporate sustainability reports.
  • Prepare talking points for your spokesperson on your sustainable event practices to support a positive brand reputation.


  • Include sustainability in your proposals. Our recent survey found that 34 percent of planners are expecting to see information about sustainability in their proposals without having to ask for it.
  • Provide incentives for your events to reduce your costs. By collaborating with your clients to reduce waste, and lower energy and water use, you can help reduce your costs in these areas.

Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA

Director, Industry Advancement, Events Industry Council


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