December 6, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) is on the cusp of signing up to support the COP26 – Zero Carbon Events Pledge.

This week the EEAA Board is meeting and will consider a recommendation to join other peak bodies and companies from around the world in publicly confirming the environment as a major priority.

The EEAA’s work in this area is currently being steered by board member Elissa Duke, in her capacity as Chair of the Sustainability Working Group.

The Group met last week to forge ahead on the EEAA’s industry-wide sustainability initiative which has the backing of Tourism Australia as a major strategic partner.

Duke, who is a senior executive at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), told micenet it was pleasing to see proactive measures being taken by the global industry with the launch of the pledge at the UN’s global climate change summit COP26.

Elissa Duke from MCEC is a EEAA board member and Chair of the association’s Sustainability Working Group

“It is a fantastic initiative that the EEAA fully supports,” she said.

The EEAA has been leading a major industry-wide initiative for several years and has involved its members, Tourism Australia and waste-management experts in its development.

“We have developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy and program which defines a pathway to reduce the environmental footprint of our sector.

“Originally planned for a mid-2021 launch, the impacts of COVID on our industry have meant we had to reset our target dates and now plan to officially launch mid-2022,” she said.

Duke said the key focus for industry stakeholders in the short to mid-term would be on rebuilding and bringing events back.

“For some, having to also consider what strategic and practical measures they can execute to reduce their environmental impact may seem daunting, however, now is the time to act.

“The EEAA sustainability strategy takes a whole-of-industry approach to tackling the impact we have on the environment, and it will need a whole-of-industry commitment to meet the targets.”

The EEAA Sustainability Committee has re-established key milestones and targets set out in the strategy and program which are for the end 2022 and 2025.

The strategy developed by the EEAA has identified seven key impact areas.

“We will be asking all stakeholders to commit to a shared vision of change,” said Duke.

The association will ask the industry to sign up to the memorandum which establishes a standard language around sustainability and common goals, metrics and benchmarks.

“We have also designed a carbon footprint calculator tool for stakeholders to measure sustainable practices put in place for their events. This was piloted successfully at an event earlier this year.

“The strategy was developed in collaboration with industry stakeholders and testing and revision has ensured the commitments laid out in the strategy are actionable, achievable and address both the interests of stakeholders and the scientific impacts of delivering events,” she said.

There is a long list of companies that have a demonstrated commitment to sustainability and who have helped to steer the EEAA’s work over the past five years.

They include Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Adelaide Convention Centre, Reed Exhibitions Australia, Informa Australia, ICC Sydney, The Coleman Group, Diversified Communications, Perth Expo Hire, Icon Services and Grand Stand Events.