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#GreenMeetings Part I: The Need of the Hour

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It has been decades since the eponymous animated television program ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ made its debut. The only difference now is that this series has become less of a light-hearted environment-themed entertainment show and more of an urgent distressing cautionary tale.  With individuals around the world fighting for ‘greener’ measures to be taken to combat environmental-issues such as climate change, melting of the polar ice-caps, and vanishing rain-forests, the need of the hour is to implement sustainable practices that meet the current requirements, without compromising on the needs of future generations.

Sustainability practices are being adopted increasingly worldwide across all realms, including the event and meeting management space. Although most contemporary events induct eco-friendly practices in minor ways, the need of the hour is to try to convert an event and its meetings to become as sustainable as possible. Events and meetings are one of the biggest drivers of a business and also require a lot of investment from the company. These mostly extravagant affairs involve a number of processes that can sometimes ignore the implications on the environment. One can be forgiven for wondering how this is possible, after all, how do meetings contribute to increasing pollution? They do not expel poisonous gases into the air, nor do they dump tonnes of toxic waste into the ocean.

Perhaps not directly, but it is quite appalling to know that events and meetings do contribute quite significantly to wastage. Ever considered the sheer amount of paper waste that is generated after a meeting during an event? Sure, today most processes are completed online, but a number of participants still prefer to take down notes on paper or convey information through print-outs. Not every one of these is taken back by the participants and most are just discarded. This is also the case when it comes to brochures or pamphlets that are usually left behind. 

Most meetings at events also provide catering – which in turn, if unfinished can result in a lot of food waste. Other issues include waste generated by plastic, increased carbon footprint due to vehicle emissions, littering, environment degradation if an event is taking place outdoors in a sensitive ecological area, and so on.

The International Standard on Sustainable Event Management, ISO 20121 was developed in order to encourage the event industry to employ sustainability practices. This international standard also helps organizers and enterprises to identify the impact of an event and reduce those that have a negative effect on the environment. 

It is imperative for enterprises to measure the environmental impact of their events and meetings and should understand their diverse impact as this is also a factor taken into consideration by most event sponsors, visitors as well as participants. One of the pillars of corporate social responsibility initiatives is the environmental impact of all activities of the enterprise. There are a plethora of ways through which meetings can be organized in a sustainable manner while remaining cost-effective as well.

A number of enterprises today are implementing preventative measures to ensure meetings at events are organized in an eco-friendly manner. The first step is to identify the negative impact of the meeting and providing strategies to reduce the same. A number of event management companies are adopting measures to ensure that event meetings are sustainable. Additionally, measures are also being increasingly taken by aware participants and vendors to refrain from practices that can harm the environment. Technology, which has equally been a boon and a bane can also be one of the solutions. Does the term meeting automation seem familiar?

Stay tuned for our next blog to know how meeting managers can ensure sustainable meetings!

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