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Join the global sustainability conversation

by Nicola Macdonald

It’s time for events to form part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, says global not-for-profit Positive Impact. 

In New York, in September 2019, the world’s businesses and governments will gather at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Summit.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were formed in 2015 and aim to ‘transform the world and improve people’s lives and prosperity on a healthy planet’ by 2030.

So where does the events industry come in? Industry not-for-profit Positive Impact, with the support of organisations such as Cvent, IMEX Group, Maritz and Oregon Convention Center, intends to involve the industry in the global sustainability conversation. As an industry worth billions worldwide, employing hundreds of thousands and serving more, events should be central to the sustainability debate. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Action Campaign has created a survey specifically for the event sector, accessible through the Positive Impact website, which will enable event professionals to have their say on the industry’s potential sustainability roadmap.

Positive Impact CEO Fiona Pelham, who has been on the MPI Board for over seven years, commented: “Aligning events to a global strategy will enable it to have strategic business conversations with global leaders. For example, events can contribute to achieving the targets of Goal Two (zero hunger) by repurposing nutritious food to people in vulnerable situations and supporting small scale food producers, or train event professionals to spot human trafficking and reduce inequalities (Goal 10). There is evidence of this happening, but it is not a ‘business as usual’ norm.”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which focuses on Goal 13 (climate action), stated: “Our focus is on accelerating climate action in all industries at global level. We need urgent action by all stakeholders. We recently launched sectoral initiatives in the sports and fashion sectors, and we look forward to initiatives that mobilise further action. The events industry is a key one.”

Judy Elvey, director of marketing for Cvent in Europe, said: “We hear a lot about sustainability in our industry, but many need guidance as to how they can support the global political agenda and overcome any perceived challenges to supporting the sustainable development goals at an industry level. I would urge every event professional in the industry to share their views so that we can present a united voice and look at a range of solutions. The research marks an important next stage as we pave the path for a more sustainable events industry.”

The survey will be available until 1 September, after which time the findings will be used to influence the content of an ‘Acceleration Commitment’ being drafted by Positive Impact. The organisation will be drawing on its existing memorandums of association with UN bodies to tell the story of the power of events in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and aims to identify the actions needed for the event industry to deliver on its potential as a ‘catalyst for acceleration’ of the UN’s commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn more about Positive Impact and take the sustainability survey online at

Interested in sustainability? Join us at the EN Race Day on 13 September.

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