Principles of event sustainability

16 March 2022

The impact of the events industry on the environment was recognised a while ago. Lots of different steps have been taken to minimise it, but in the past couple of years the pandemic has changed the way events were organised. Cutting down on travel emissions and waste was the first areas event organisers and participants looked into.

Switching to virtual events has changed the idea of sustainability in events. Now more areas have been added to the list of sustainability-related changes. Hopefully virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, but as we go back to normal in-person events are on everyone’s list.

What is the definition of event sustainability then? Well, event sustainability means taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy Events Industry Council. As we have discussed in our previous blog post Sustainable development and the concept of sustainability, the United Nations (UN) has set 17 goals that are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Back in 2019, the Events Industry Council (EIC) developed four Principles for Sustainable Events designed to guide event organisers. The Principles for Sustainable Events address all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The four principles of event sustainability

  1. Event organisers and suppliers share responsibility for implementing and communicating sustainable practices to their stakeholders.
  2. Basic environmental practices include:
    • conservation of resources, including water, energy and natural resources
    • waste management
    • carbon emissions reduction and management
    • supply chain management and responsible purchasing
    • biodiversity preservation
  3. Basic social considerations include:
    • universal human rights
    • community impacts
    • labour practices
    • respect for culture
    • safety and security
    • health and well-being
  4. Sustainable events support thriving economic practices through:
    • collaboration and partnership
    • local support, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
    • stakeholder participation
    • equitable economic impact
    • transparency
    • responsible governance

These principles provide guidance on how to clearly incorporate sustainability in the various aspects of an event. There is no one way to do sustainability. But keeping in mind the above principles when you are organising your event you can make sure you look into all the areas that can become more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Small changes go a long way and making an impact takes time. A good first step is to identify the impact of your event (see Which areas contribute the most to an event’s footprint?). Then you can use the above principles as a guide to finding out how you will address each area.

We are here to provide guidance and support on the sustainability of events. Our main aim is to facilitate the discussion of sustainability issues and new technologies in our community. On our website, you’ll be able to read relevant blogs and find useful resources.

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