ICCA and MCI wanted to do more around sustainability for the 58th ICCA Congress in October 2019 in Houston. While we did as many other conferences do nowadays—using biodegradable badges and electronic post-conference surveys, not handing out conference bags, following good waste management practices, and so on— we also asked: How can we engage attendees in event sustainability?
What emerged was a daily ‘self-sustainability checklist’, sponsored by Business Events Dubai, to help attendees track what measures they’d taken onsite to help conserve and be sustainable. “The checklist began as a sponsorship activation, but it turned into a much larger initiative. We quickly realized the potential impact it could make on the Congress and future events.” says Shawn Cheng, CMP, DES, project manager, conferences, at MCI.
The checklist had six categories: transportation, energy conservation, waste reduction, education, health and wellness, and ‘spread the word’. Each category has a number of possible actions to check off, each aligned with one of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). For example, among the actions in the waste reduction section were:
- I brought my reusable coffee mug and used it today. | SDG15
- I only took one hotel key card or the necessary amount when checking in at my hotel. | SDG12
- I did not open the bottled water at my hotel room today. (if provided) | SDG14
Altogether, there are 33 actions on the checklist.
Based on 878 actions that attendees checked off, the following infographic was created to illustrate where the group focused its sustainability efforts and the contributions made to each SDG: