Each year there are approximately 32,000 large exhibitions worldwide, with 4.5 million companies exhibiting and over 303 million visitors*. Making exhibitions, and the many other types of large events, truly sustainable will have such an important, positive impact on local communities and the planet. This week, key players in this global industry have committed to creating a positive impact on the environment by signing a net zero emissions pledge.
The Net Zero Carbon Events initiative is organised by an international task force led by trade associations UFI, AIPC, ICCA and events industry businesses, hosted by JMIC, supported by the UNFCCC. The pledge was developed and signed by companies from across the events industry supply chain showing large-scale commitment and support for this important initiative. On 10 November, leaders from across the industry introduced the pledge at COP26 which included an address from the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid.
Olympia London was one of the first UK venues to sign this pledge to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and reduce total GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 in line with global efforts set out by the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5C.
The venue and other participants, will provide a clear roadmap before the end of 2023 demonstrating how they will achieve net zero status. Progress against this roadmap will be reported at least every two years and Olympia London will be a visible advocate and collaborator to drive momentum across the whole industry.
Olympia London has had sustainability at the core of its business for many years. It has sent zero waste to landfill for over a decade, uses environmentally friendly food packaging, and has been working towards eliminating food waste: in 2019 alone, it reduced food waste by 17%.
Driving the sustainability initiatives within Olympia London is The Grand Plan – a staff-led programme that has gained Green Tourism Gold for the venue. As part of The Grand Plan the venue supplies exhibition organisers with a post-event sustainability report to help show the footprint of their event and highlight areas for improvement.
Siân Richards, Head of Sustainability said: “For over a decade, Olympia London has proactively committed to advancing green practices in-house and in the industry by collaborating with our partners, clients and industry peers. Committing to net zero today is an important step forward in playing our part in creating a more sustainable industry. We look forward to working with all of our industry partners to achieve this goal.”
As part of its long-term commitment to green practices, Olympia London actively leads in the industry by ensuring it is represented in industry-wide sustainability working groups and sponsoring sustainability events. Just a week before the pledge announcement, the West London venue gathered top events industry leaders for a roundtable event to discuss: ‘Sustainability. Is it just a line in your P&L?’ Event organisers, industry press, financiers, caterers, industry consultants and ESG investment specialists debated both the challenges and opportunities of incorporating sustainability in core business strategies and operations.
Hosting the event, Anna Golden, Olympia London Commercial Director and The Grand Plan’s Company Board Ambassador, said: “Sustainability is no longer an option. As the public and companies recognise ESG as a fairer and more reliable approach, we are now on a race to ensure we have a positive environmental impact and remain relevant as businesses going forward. For many companies recovering from the losses after the pandemic, this is a huge challenge but, together we can transform the challenge into real benefits and create a secure future for our industry, and for our planet.”