Peter joined X. Festival to talk to us about sustainable events, which he describes as being better for the planet and for your business.
Peter highlighted that climate and biodiversity crises are a fact, with these problems becoming even more apparent due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, COVID also provided us with the chance to take action, adapting our businesses to secure their survival.
Peter Reelfs, Sustainability Advisor, joined X. Festival to talk to us about sustainable events, which he describes as being better for the planet and for your business.
Why should you care about sustainability?
Peter highlighted that climate and biodiversity crises are a fact, with these problems becoming even more apparent due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, COVID also provided us with the chance to take action, adapting our businesses to secure their survival. He also explained that the main groups of travellers nowadays are Gen Y and Gen Z individuals, who highly value sustainability, and which will be the main group of travellers and event attendees in the coming years.
When looking at the economic aspect of sustainability, Peter provided us with some eye-opening facts, such as the cost savings in energy, the reduction of food waste or the lower rental and staff costs of hybrid events.
How do hybrid events differ from others?
He explained that in traditional events, we all meet in person and have physical meetings and face-to-face networking interactions. On the other hand, online events are always online but aren't always necessarily a Livestream, in which people do the networking online.
He then moved on to highlight the advantages of hybrid events, which are a combination of the previous two, and thus more sustainable. The main benefits are that by having fewer physical visitors and the same setup, they often bring more interaction and fewer costs. The interaction increases by bringing people together in real life and online, which in turn increases revenue for the organisers.
He then provided a comparison of the CO2 emissions generated between a classical, a virtual and a hybrid event, which can be seen below.
What makes events sustainable?
Peter explained that sustainability rests upon three pillars: people, environment and economy. He mentioned that when looking at the social aspect, an event organiser should focus on gender equality, diversity, accessibility, security and workplace safety, and health. To provide an example, making events accessible can require training the staff to be aware of the accessibility options.
What are the sources of emissions at a typical event?
Usually, 5% of the emissions correspond to the venue, that is, the energy, infrastructure, etc. Another 10% corresponds to the food, whose negative impact can be reduced by chaining beef for chicken or fish. Before moving to the biggest source of emissions, he talked about a 15% which represents accommodation, a negative impact that can be reduced by booking certified accommodations. Lastly, there is a shocking 70% for the transport, including travel to and from venues. The effects of this source can be reduced by holding events where public transport is available during the event.
What are some examples of things we can do to reduce emissions?
Peter, amongst others, presented the case of the Clarion Hotels, which have managed to reduce food waste by 20% by having smaller plates. He also explained how MAT Food Festivals have shifted their focus from meat-based to plant-based options and have introduced climate-smart dishes to encourage an increase in vegetarian and vegan dishes.
How to plan a sustainable event?
To wrap up his session, Peter provided the audience with a number of recommendations to plan sustainable events:
1. Set a vision and a goal.
2. Develop a sustainability policy.
3. Appoint someone who is responsible.
4. Follow a structure: ISO 20121, Global Goals, ...
5. Suppliers must be involved.
1. Hybrid events are much more sustainable than traditional events and bring more interaction and higher revenues.
2. Sustainability within events can be understood through five aspects: gender equality, diversity, accessibility, security and workplace safety, and health.
Peter is an elected board member of Green Destinations, chairman of the GD Training Committee and head of the GD expert group for sustainable events.