In late January 2019, the Events Industry Council (EIC) released four new sustainability principles that incorporate all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and define what a fully sustainable event is for the first time.

The initiative, aimed at encouraging and helping planners and organizations implement sustainable practices, entailed months of collaboration among leading industry voices.

The group first convened at IMEX Frankfurt in May 2018 at EIC’s inaugural Sustainable Event Industry Forum to identify the criteria and standards that could be harnessed to advance a more unified approach to global sustainable event practices.

The second meeting took place at IMEX America in October 2018 to discuss launching the sustainable principles agreed upon by the industry.

Developing the EIC’s Four Sustainability Principles

During the first meeting, representatives of some of the world’s most prominent organizations drafted a sustainable event definition and guiding principles.

The principles were a culmination of the common elements found in the leading global events industry sustainable bodies of work. They were derived from and compared against:

  • APEX/ASTM Standards.
  • Austrian Ecolabel Guidelines.
  • German Federal Ministry for the Environment Guidelines.
  • Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria.
  • IACC Code of Sustainability.
  • ICCA Global Destination Sustainability Index.
  • Singapore Sustainability Guidelines.
  • UN Climate Change Secretariat Sustainable Events Checklist.
  • ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management System.

The principles define event sustainability as “taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy.

An Official List of EIC’s Four Sustainability Principles

The overarching four sustainability principles presented by the EIC include:

  1. Event organizers and suppliers sharing responsibility for implementing and communicating sustainable practices to their stakeholders.
  2. Basic environmental practices.
  3. Basic social considerations.
  4. Supporting thriving economic practices.

Full details of each of the four principles can be found here:
Principles for Sustainable Events (EIC PDF Doc).

The new Principles for Sustainable Events has approximately 50 launching endorsers.

“It is exciting to see such a wide representation of launching endorsers, representing organizations from around the world, of all sizes and industry sectors, coming together to state that sustainability is fundamental for our industry and to define what that means for our industry,” said Mariela McIlwraith, director of industry advancement for EIC.

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According to McIlwraith, the  EIC sees the endorsements as a key milestone in the journey to increase adoption of sustainable practices in the meetings and events industry and to advance the industry thanks to these practices.

“Encouraging suppliers and organizations to become endorsers helps establish the needed collaboration for implementing sustainable practices,” she said. “One of the most powerful aspects of these principles is in their simplicity, they are comprehensive and show how our industry can help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

McIlwraith added that the principles can be used in a number of ways by planners, first and foremost as a conversation starter with key event stakeholders.

“The next steps are to encourage greater adoption of the standards by event professionals and to collect and share stories of how these principles are being activated in our industry,” she said.

Sign the EIC Sustainability Pledge

To view the list of launching endorsers in real time and sign on to adopt the four new sustainability principles, visit the following EIC Sustainability Pledge web page.

McIlwraith added that for planners looking to gain deeper skills in sustainability, the EIC offers a Sustainable Event Professional Certificate.

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