Sustainable Event Buyer’s Guide: Sustainable Development Goals & Events

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly created the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in which 17 goals were created. All member states of the UN have adopted the agenda with the aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

There are 17 goals in total:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and wellbeing
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

These goals can be applied to any manner of professional and personal walks of life, for example, refraining from using single-use plastic at home, walking instead of driving or offering health schemes to employers.

According to the Event Industry Council’s Global Economic Significance of Business Events report, 1.5 billion people attend events every year. In the UK alone, the event sector is worth £42.3billion. If all the professionals in this vast industry committed to designing their events to align with the SDGs, we would not only have a phenomenal impact on the world’s health, but we could help educate millions of people every year.


For example, your attendees may try a plant-based meal for the first time at your event or learn about the effects of food waste and single-use plastics have on the environment.

According to the not-for-profit company committed to creating a sustainable event industry, Positive Impact Events, the top three SDGs that are of highest concern within the global event industry are: climate action, clean water and sanitation, and zero hunger. These can be addressed in every event from conferences and seminars, to trade shows and festivals.

CEO of Positive Impact Events, Fiona Pelham, commented: “The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a roadmap to creating a world that works for everyone, so it makes sense they would work as a framework for event professionals to identify and innovate on actions to create a sustainable event.”

By their nature, events are diverse, varied and no two are the same. However, using the goals as inspiration for your event-planning decisions can help the world achieve them. Even achieving a handful of the goals in your event is a step in the right direction and can inspire clients, guests and fellow organisers to follow your lead.

Ensure your panels/workshops/meetings are gender-balanced and you have achieved goal 5. Adopt green energy and tick off goal 7. Encourage a healthy work environment and you’ve committed to goal 3. Donate food waste to address goal 2.

The ways you can design your event with the SDGs in mind are endless!

The United Nation’s website states simply: “2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the goals by 2030.” This incorporates every sector of every industry, including live events.

As the UN Secretary General promised in his speech at the UN headquarters last September: “green business is good business.”

Read more content like this in our Sustainable Event Buyer’s Guide.