November 16, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio

With COP27, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, currently underway in Egypt, the worldwide events industry has been back at the global gathering to launch the industry’s Net Zero Carbon Events Roadmap.

Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry (UFI), said there were over 400 signatories or supporters of the industry pledge.

The aim is to halve greenhouse gas emission by 2030 and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest, he said.

Hattendorf said he was so happy that the roadmap was being put on the world stage in Sharm el-Sheik.

Also amongst the leaders at COP27 was the Freeman CEO, Bob Priest-Heck. Freeman were one of the first signatories of the pledge.

Freeman says the roadmap creates an outline for all event industry stakeholders to meet the net zero goal and provides pathways for individual organisations as well as industry-wide actions. The priority action areas reflect industry collaboration focused on energy, production and waste, food and food waste, freight and logistics and travel, Freeman says.

“At Freeman, we understand it is our responsibility to build sustainability into each area we impact to enable the change and progress represented by the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge,” said Priest-Heck.

“Our team loves the work we do in bringing people together and doing so sustainably is key to not only our success but that of all of our partners.

“Our progress is amplified when we work together,” he said.

“The roadmap is the structure needed to make individual as well as collective progress.”

The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) has played a key role in hosting all the parties that first became active in relation to the pledge.

JMIC says now that focus is intensifying even further with the realisation that “we need to accelerate our actions in response to the threat of climate change, not only to secure our own future but to support the many other sectors we rely on for our existence”.

In rallying the industry to take action, the JMIC says that engaging now means being a part of a global collaboration for action – and failing to act risks being left behind.

“The Joint Meetings Industry Council is proud to host the Net Zero Carbon Events [initiative] to connect the events industry globally to the rapidly growing movement towards net zero by 2050.”

“In November 2021, world leaders met in Scotland at COP26 to present how their countries will achieve the 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

“At this meeting, the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge was launched with over 100 first signatories, setting out the events industry’s commitment to play its role in addressing climate change,” says the Net Zero Carbon Events website.

Since COP26 more than 300 other companies have indicated support for the events industry pledge.

“Through this initiative, we aim to link all stakeholders in the corporate, professional, academic and destination communities worldwide that have also committed to engagement in what is one of the biggest collective challenges we all face today, and to invite those that have not done so yet to join,” says the website.

Among the Australian companies which have signed or supported the pledge are Adelaide Convention Centre, Arinex and the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA).

The initiative was first kicked off by an organising task force initiated by JMIC members UFI, AIPC and ICCA, joined by representatives of Emerald Expositions (US), Freeman (US), HKCEC (China), Informa (UK), Javits Center (US), MCI (Switzerland), Messe München (Germany), RX (UK) and Scottish Event Campus (UK). The pledge was born from a discussion with the UNFCCC secretariat – that is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat — which is also supporting the initiative.