June 9, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

As climate change and environmental impact become ever more pressing issues, Canada’s national tourism agency has launched a national plan to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of business events held across Canada.

The move by what is essentially a marketing agency demonstrates the mounting case for investing in sustainability to attract new business.

Sustainability programs tailored to the specific United Nations Sustainability Goals targeted by individual Canadian destinations are part of the plan, as are training opportunities for 20 local partners to help organisations establish new sustainability initiatives or develop existing ones.

The sustainability plan will target international association conferences, trade exhibitions, workshops, seminars, corporate meetings and incentives, aiming to deliver these kinds of events more sustainably when they take place in Canada.

“Developing and launching sustainable business event programs is not an option anymore,” said Virginie De Visscher, senior director of business development for economic sectors at Destination Canada Business Events.

“If our industry is to meet net zero targets by no later than 2050, the entire supply chain must work in partnership to find and implement powerful solutions.

“As one of the world’s first national sustainability plans for business events, Destination Canada’s Canadian Business Events Sustainability Plan will provide a national support arm to this supply chain and be the figurative rising tide that lifts all ships.”

The first step of the plan is a national destination assessment study to establish the current state of play for sustainability in the Canadian business events industry.

“We want to do this right and we want to hold ourselves accountable,” said De Visscher

“By establishing a baseline for impact and assessing the Sustainable Development Goals and actions already being taken by our domestic partners…we’re creating a marker for change.

“We all have a responsibility to economically, socially and environmentally benefit the host communities and global ecosystems we visit.

“We believe the Canadian Business Event Sustainability Plan will empower our team, our partners and our clients to do just that and ultimately foster a regenerative tourism ecosystem that produces positive net benefits for all Canadians.”

Destination Canada has also commissioned a multi-year legacy impact study, which will be delivered by #MEET4IMPACT and the Australian-founded consultancy GainingEdge, which will look at the beyond tourism impact generated by international business events and will align with work on the destination’s business events sustainability plan.