… smoke and mirrors?
Few would disagree that the green agenda has become a ‘check-list’ item in the events sector across all manner of services over the last twelve months. Remarkable, in my view, how the masses have latched on to what should be a noble and ethical cause for their own commercial benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete cynic and supporting the environment makes total sense. But what has astounded me is the amount of smoke and mirrors created in the industry so that it is now difficult to differentiate the over-hyped ‘policies’ of those who pay lip-service to Corporate Social Responsibility from those genuinely committed to implementing real measures to address the issues.
On the one hand I am thrilled that so many organisations are now committed, in theory at least, to the green cause. On the other, I think there is a real danger of becoming jaded (pardon the pun!) if we spout green ‘propaganda’ at every opportunity. It will be interesting to see how many maintain their eco-credentials now that the economy and ROI are the more pressing concerns for event organisers.
But our European Mood of the Market research at the end of 2008 showed that, despite their main concern being business levels in 2009, these issues remain a high priority, with 86% of 700 European buyers saying CSR and environmental issues are influential in event organisation.
The challenge for buyers, then, is to select suppliers who are actually implementing green policies. Until recently there has been no industry-wide barometer against which to measure eco-credentials. Although ISO 14001 is a generic credential and the recent introduction of BS8901 for sustainable events will help in the UK, this is now set to change worldwide with the launch of the Charter for Responsible Meetings, which was signed by no less than 49 CEOs of key meetings industry organisations at the EIBTM CEO summit in December. The charter sets out commitment to 10 key activities that will deliver real benefit to communities and meetings destinations around the world and to environmental policy.
So, no more excuses; whatever our role in the meetings industry might be, with the new charter there is a vehicle for us to commit to making a real difference without the smoke and mirrors.