UN to receive event industry contribution at Sustainable Development Goal Summit in New York

On 24 and 25 September 2019, Heads of State and Government will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to review progress against the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the first time ever this will include commitments for action from the global event industry.

To date, 7000 commitments for action have been collected from event professionals  from 58 countries which have contributed to an ‘acceleration action’, submitted to the summit, with the aim of  raising the profile of how events can be used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Co-ordinated and written by not-for-profit, Positive Impact Events, the acceleration action promotes the event industry as a way to ensure Sustainable Development Goal 4 (quality education for all) is acheived. It is titled ‘Engaging the global event industry in the UN SDGS: By 2030 ensuring the over 1.5 billion people who attend events every year acquire knowledge  and skills needed to promote sustainable development’. Funding support has been provided by Maritz Global Events, IMEX, PCMA, CVent and Oregon Convention Center.

Contributions have been gathered via an online survey called ‘MY World’ which received special dispensation, from the UN SDG Action Campaign, as well as praise for the way it was adapted and promoted within the global events industry, to a reach over 1.7 million. The events industry survey marked the first time the UN has supported a campaign of this sort within the event industry and event professionals are being asked to build on this momentum by taking to social media during the summit and sharing the actions they take to create a sustainable event industry using #Act4SDGs

UNFCCC will be joining Positive Impact Events at IMEX America to explore industry collaboration for next steps. Event professionals around the world will have the chance to engage more deeply with the SDGs by participating in training on the circular economy. This new initiative will be piloted by GES, the global provider to the live events industry, as part of their commitment to identifying new sustainable materials for every step of the event journey. This will also be in collaboration with MDBC, the creators of the Cradle to Cradle Design™ Framework, to create sustainable alternatives.

This will advance last year's campaign to address the role of plastic in the event industry, supported by Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In explaining the importance and role of the meetings and events industry in helping to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Marta Rojas Sevillano, Communications Lead, UN SDG Action Campaign, said:

“The United Nations SDG Action Campaign is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General to scale up, broaden, and sustain the global movement to take action for the Sustainable Development Goals. For the Goals to be achieved, we need everyone to take action, and to connect these actions with decision makers in SDG planning and review processes at all levels. Events bring people together to learn and collaborate, and create an environment where concrete actions can be developed and individuals and organisations can be mobilized and inspired to join the movement making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.”

Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO, added: “We’re delighted to add our weight and support to this events industry acceleration action. Some parts of our industry are making huge strides and changes to achieve greater sustainability, others are only just starting out. Nevertheless, this is a time for us all to raise awareness, to educate ourselves and those we serve, to collaborate and, above all, to commit to taking action.”

More information about Positive Impact Events

Resources to take action during the UN SDG Summit

What was said during the press event

Welcome and over the next 5 mins I will be providing information on todays announcement: 

That for the first time ever the global event industry will be part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Summit in New York, we will then open up for questions. I am joined by Miguel  Naranjo Gonzalez, from UNFCCC who will be able to answer your questions on how the event industry can collaborate with the United Nations re climate change and by Sherrif Karamat from PCMA who will be able to answer questions on why PCMA are supporting this initiative and why other associations should as well.

Please excuse my reading but I want to make sure this important information is clearly shared.

The UN SDGS are 17 goals designed to serve as a blueprint for a world to work for everyone. These goals are not just a government initiative. Business are reshaping their strategies  to align with these goals as recent announcements from the US Business Roundtable demonstrates.

The intention is to achieve these goals by 2030.

This year the United Nations realised that to be on track to this ‘acceleration was needed’ ie how do we get to the goals more quickly.

For the past 3 years Positive Impact Events has had a number of Memorandums of Understanding with United Nations Bodies including UNFCCC and UN Environment so we were able to understand the unique opportunity the UN were offering.

Their request for governments, business or anyone else to provide them with actions which could accelerate their progress towards achieving the UN SDGs was an opportunity for the event industry to promote  their role in achieving the UN SDGs. Each of the 17 UN SDGs will require people to come together to collaborate, connect, inspire and be educated. This is the outcome of an event whether it is a sport event, a business event or a cultural event. Yet so far events have not been recognised as vital to achieve the SDGs.

With the support of funding from Maritz Global Events, IMEX, Cvent, Oregon Convention Center and PCMA work has been done with policy and sustainability experts to understand how to position the global event industry as vital to achieving the SDGs.

UN SDG 4 Quality Education for all, has a target that all learners will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. Currently the indicator for this target, i.e. the way it is measured, is only around school and university learning. It would make sense that the event industry start to promote itself as the way to inform, educate, inspire and engage everyone beyond school age in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. For example attending an event where education was given to the audience on human rights such as how to identify a trafficking victim. This knowledge can be used beyond the event. Or taking part in a community give back programme as part of your event could inspire you to do the same with your family after an event.

 The title of the Acceleration Action is therefore ‘Engaging the global event industry in the UN SDGS: By 2030 ensuring the over 1.5 billion people who attend business  events every year acquire knowledge  and skills needed to promote sustainable development’.

In August for the first time ever the My World Survey  (a survey used by UN SDG Action Campaign to gather peoples opinions on progress towards the SDGs) was tailored for the event industry and launched. During August alone over 7000 commitments for action were made from event professionals from 58 countries. For example commitments to serve plant based menus at events, ask suppliers if they were paying staff at least the minimum wage and ensure at least 50% of event content was provided by women. 

These commitments formed the basis of the acceleration action which was submitted to the UN SDG Action Campaign on Friday 6th September. The goal of the acceleration action is that the UN will recognise the event industry is an opportunity to accelerate towards achieving the SDGs and new collaborations will be formed.

The deliverables this Acceleration Action promises are:

  1. 100,000 commitments from event professionals around the world

  2. An annual report on the impact of the event industry

Resources to support the event industry to take action to achieve the SDGS and this includes two notable new initiatives:

  1. Unicef UK guidelines on planning an event with the consideration of human rights

  2. Circular economy project supported by GES which will look at the materials used within the event industry with the support of MBDC who are sustainability experts behind the cradle to cradle methodology.

And finally Data on the role of events to achieve UN SDG 4.7 will be gathered ie how events enable people to acquire knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development.

The next vital step is the week of the 23rd September when we are asking every event professional to take to social media and share examples of how their events enable people to acquire knowledge and skills and use the hashtag #Act4SDGs.

As business’ around the world speak up about their role to achieve the SDGs during this week this is an easy step we can all take to ensure the event industry is part of this global, world changing conversation.

Today’s press release can be found using the QR code on the back of these cards and the website will also give you access to resources including a tool kit so your publication can be part of the social media activation the week of 23rd September.