November 18, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio | Image: UFI CEO Kai Hattendorf speaking at COP26 | Credit: UN

The global events industry came together at COP26 in Glasgow last week to join the plan of action to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

It was a commendable act from leaders of industry peak bodies and major companies in the events sector. Going public on the world stage at COP26 to make a collective pledge to reduce the carbon footprint of events now ignites this as a priority for all who work in events – including Australia.

The Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge was launched by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) in a mission to connect the events industry globally to the rapidly growing movement towards net zero by 2050.

And while there is conjecture on whether COP26 went far enough, it did join world leaders in a mission to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

There are four pillars to the events industry’s pledge which was delivered by an impressive line-up of industry representatives.

Due to travel restrictions, Australia was not in attendance, however the peak bodies that our industry is part of were there and so were some of the signatories to the agreement.

Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, the Global Association for the Exhibition Industry, and member of JMIC kicked off the Glasgow presentation. He was joined by some of the most senior leaders from the events industry showing their degree of commitment to address responsibilities for the planet.

Hattendorf went from leading UFI’s global congress in Rotterdam straight to Glasgow for the lodgement of the pledge.

“What an honour to be part of this journey, and what a motivation for the challenges ahead. Now the work begins again – to put the pledge into action, to work on the commitments,” he said.

He said there were already over 250 companies supporting the pledge.

The JMIC said that engaging now means being a part of a global collaboration for action – and failing to act risks being left behind.

“Through this initiative, we aim to link all stakeholders in the corporate, professional, academic and destination communities world-wide 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.”

The Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge will

  • Jointly communicate our industry’s commitment to tackling climate change and driving towards net zero by 2050
  • Develop common methodologies for measuring the industry’s direct, indirect and supply chain greenhouse gas emissions
  • Construct an industry-wide roadmap towards net zero by 2050, and emissions reductions by 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement, with support and guidance on key issues
  • Foster collaboration with suppliers and customers to ensure alignment and common approaches
  • Establish common mechanisms for reporting progress and sharing best practice

JMIC says that over the coming year all supporters of the initiative will be invited to work together to define an industry net zero roadmap for events that is aligned with the targets of the pledge. The roadmap will be launched at COP27 in November or December 2022.

The new initiative arises from the work of an organising task force initiated by JMIC members UFI, the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and joined by representatives of Emerald Expositions (US), Freeman (US), Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) (China), Informa (UK), Javits Center (US), MCI (Switzerland), Messe München (Germany), Reed Exhibitions (UK) and Scottish Event Campus (UK). It was born from a discussion with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, which is also supporting the initiative.

“We are inviting all interested parties to join us on this journey. The aim is to grow this initiative that represents the events industry as a whole and provide a collaborative commitment we can all act on,” the JMIC said.