The impact of climate change on the events industry

For 15 plus years, there has been a conversation within the event industry about sustainability. There has been some results (an international standards for all event suppliers in any country, certificate programmes delivered by associations to educate event professionals) but it is fair to say if the speed of change remains the same, there may not be an event industry in 15 years.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in October 2018, in which the world’s leading climate scientists warned there are 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5ºC, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, flood, extreme heat and poverty for millions of people (Source: The Guardian, 2018).

What would that mean for the global events industry – increasing reluctance to travel as people understand the negative impact caused by planes/cars/buses; a gravity need for contingency planning around natural hazards for when floods, forest fires or landslides happen; new changes as crop production around the world is impacted by a different temperature.

MPI’s economic impact report shows the event industry to be a large as the automobile industry in the US and as large as agriculture in the UK, so one thing event professionals should see on the horizon is a potential increase in policy and regulation around our industry, as (like every other industry) the search intensifies to find actions to take to ensure our planet does not go beyond an increase of 1.5ºC.

Is the event industry ready for this? Or perhaps a better questions to ask is how do we get ready – and for those who want to keep on doing what they’ve always done because it’s always been done this way, maybe the question is why should the event industry be ready for this?  

The tune of doing it the way it’s always done is in its final hours. Who says ‘people will always want to meet’ in a world where technology makes it easier to connect with someone across the world from your own home if nature unpredictability creates new challenges for event professionals.

The opportunity for event professionals to consider sustainability if they have the time, budget or correct checklist is coming to a close. 2019 is a moment for event professionals to shift from small tactical changes to strategic cultural changes.

There is an opportunity to tell the story of the power of events to make a positive difference in the world but measurable actions and data needs to be shared to back that up. Positive Impact’s theme for 2019 is measurement – our role is to be critical friend and inspiration point for the global event industry, as we continue our collaboration with United Nations bodies, global change makers and sustainable professionals. Join us and together lets ensure the event industry plays a positive role in keeping our global temperature rise to below 1.5ºC.

Are you ready for a new future for the event industry?

Here are some helpful education resources and collaboration opportunities.

1.    If you don’t have enough time to think about what to do and need a checklist to follow, have a look here (follow the link here) to see how creative and variable being sustainable can be.

2.    If you can spare an hour every few months to explore more about what a sustainable event industry could mean for you - become a Positive Impact Ambassador (follow the link here) and we will send you materials throughout the year to support your journey.

3.    If you can spare a few hours with your team to think strategically about what a sustainable event industry could mean for you, use these materials created for The Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE website).

4. If you have a story to share, share it! Join us on #CSRshareday, or use social media anytime #shareapositiveimpact, or if you want to explore opportunities to raise your profile and support us, visit here (sponsorship information).