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Building Sustainable Event Organisations

I have recently taken a deep dive into Sustainability in Events. The UK events industry council states that “Sustainability for events means taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy.”

While I am not a catastrophiser believing the world is going to end tomorrow, I do believe that human activity has contributed to some seriously negative and harmful practices. Our actions to become more conscious about how we live and work can only be positive for the environment, for the economy and for our communities.

The biggest lesson I have learnt in order to build event organisations that make real sustainable changes, is to overhaul the business internally with full leadership and stakeholder buy-in.

Start with your values and creating a sustainability policy with clear objectives and measurable targets. E.G. 100% Zero waste, by end of 2025, by decreasing waste by 25% annually, till 2025, at all events. From there, you can build action plans around how you are going to achieve this.

The second lesson is to use external resources, partners and collaborations to grow a sustainable community.

Small actions now, with a plan to increase your targets for long term change, is going to make a big difference for the future. There are so many organisations, such as “Julie’s Bicycle”, who have great resources to help you start this journey.

Finally, when looking to adopt sustainable activities make sure you do your research!

Before my deep dive, many blogs say go paperless! However PEFC certified paper is produced from sustainable forests so buying that would be a conscious and sustainable activity.

Furthermore, the event industry is adopting digital at huge speeds, but increased processing of data is only going to increase the usage of power.

There are some new green sustainable data processing organisations, so simply choosing to align with these companies would be an easy step.

If you are worrying about the additional cost of time and resources that new initiatives will incur, the general consensus is that properly researched and implemented, you can actual save resources, reduce costs and increase long term productivity. You can even make achieving these a target and work towards it within a sustainable frame work. A great start in understanding how to develop your organisation is learning about ISO20121 - Sustainable Events Standards.

Good luck going green!


About Nicholas Oxborrow

Nicholas Oxborrow has created and managed events worldwide while running his award-winning events agency “Fabulation” in Singapore.

His event portfolio includes marketing activations, celebrations, exhibitions, conferences, galas and large outdoor events.

With an educational background in Hospitality Management from Hotel School Switzerland and Boston, Nick has had a 30-year career in hospitality and events management.

His impressive client list includes Silicon Valley giants such as Netflix, Facebook and Microsoft and international luxury brands such as Soho House, Chanel and LVMH.

Nick is also an academic in hospitality and specialises in event management and the guest experience. He has lectured for universities and colleges the United States, Europe and Asia.

Still heavily involved with the event industry, Nick teaches for The Event School London on courses in event management festivals and cultural events, corporate events and venue management.

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