One particular sustainable practice that only 23% of venues say they do is ‘donating food to local community outreach programs’. Justin Griffith of RLA Learning and Conference donates to the outreach group Mission for Mars; Peter Angelis of UCLA Luskin Conference Center donates to the UCLA student food closet and a campus group that deals with economic crises. Sustainable and ethical practices and messages can be implemented beyond just the policy statement and food elements of a venue. It can be integrated into every aspect of a venue from meeting space and furniture, to technology, to equipment and the venue’s use of resources. Venues that are able to show that they are ethical and sustainable will be more desirable to attendees as well as planners as this area grows in importance.

“COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, but we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term. Soon, economies will restart. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”

COVID-19 Perspective

How the industry balances the short term need to offer attendees reassurance of contamination free products (by using more single use plastics and wrappers) with the longer term ambitions to reduce the use of plastics will be interesting to monitor over the coming months, as on some levels the two objectives are not complementary. Alan Corlett, group Commercial Revenue Director for De Vere Company in the UK comments “There are new assurances for venue selection, hygiene, safety, social distancing measures, technology, catering operational standards that are being seen as important as sustainability in planner’s proposal requests. This suggests more elements are important today in the interim first recovery phase for meetings.” Mark Ralph, Food & Beverage Manager at Warwick Conferences in the UK adds “I feel it is important that although we will use more disposables and individually wrapped products, the packaging should be sustainable, with the goal to return to plastic-free and limited disposables as soon as possible”. Mariela McIlwraith adds to this “from a sustainability perspective, venues can mitigate the impact of disposables by having compostable service ware.”

— Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary


IACConline.org & IACCmeetings.com

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