UNFCCC: ‘Events Industry urgently needs to accelerate its actions against climate change’

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A representative from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has called on the events industry to urgently accelerate its response to climate change. Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer at the UNFCCC secretariat, also warned that there ‘would be no events industry’ if society fails in facing this challenge, and event professionals have a responsibility to contribute by changing the way they address sustainability.

Mr Naranjo was speaking ahead of an event, focusing on sustainability in the events industry, which will take place next week in Helsinki, Finland, as part of a joint initiative between the British Embassy in Helsinki, and not for profit thinktank Positive Impact. He added, “Time is running out to respond to the climate challenge. Most companies have already realised that action on climate is not just about social and environmental issues, but about their business’ bottom line and business continuity. An adequate response includes developing the required skills, education and training to take effective action, so that event professionals can become climate action champions.”

The event, which takes place 2nd September, will be available to access digitally, and UK event professionals are invited to join the interactive workshop with their Finnish peers to understand the processes and practices which could create a sustainable event industry and create a new narrative for the sector which has been significantly impacted by Covid-19. Part of the thought leadership within the discussion next week will be on combining education and upskilling event professionals to allow them to lead on sustainable initiatives not just follow their clients and companies.

Mr. Tom Dodd, British Ambassador to Finland, added: “Human connection and collaboration are at the heart of the work of British Embassies around the world, including in Helsinki. Sustainability is our priority and it is critical that we build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic. This sustainable event management workstream provides a means by which event professionals can connect, collaborate and communicate, while meeting some of the urgent environmental challenges we face.”

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The event will also address the changing consumer behaviors and both government and business priorities that are influencing the future of the UK event industry. Undoubtedly, sustainability remains a focus and factors such as; the financial success of companies with an ESG (environmental, social and governmental) focus during Covid-19; the millions of young people voicing their demand for action to address climate change; and the UK hosting COP26, the world’s key climate change conference, later in the year; are all projecting sustainability to the top of the global agenda.

Mr Naranjo concluded: “Alongside Covid-19 we are facing crises of climate, equality and economy. We are witnessing many industry sectors mobilizing to transform their narrative and actions. Along with our partners, Positive Impact Events, we have been speaking to event industry leaders and associations, but progress continues to be slow. Public pressure for action is growing though. Those that do not start implementing serious action right now will be left behind. We encourage the events industry to use all opportunities to look at sustainability, skills and jobs under the same strategy for positive change, and to act with utmost urgency.”