The Importance of Sustainability in Events and Conferences

The UK Government has legislated to achieve a 50% emission reduction by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. The events industry has a critical role to play to drive behavioural, operational and policy adoption, led by our fantastic event venues across the UK.

In today's world, sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity. As a result, it is important for event and conference organisers as well as venues to take steps to make their events sustainable and eco-friendly. On this page you will find guidance, recourse and support documents to help you create sustainable events.

VisitBritain Business Events has partnered with isla on the production of this guide below to support the industry on the journey to net zero:

isla - Sustainability in practice: A pathway for venues

Reduce Waste & Use Eco-Friendly Products

One of the most effective ways of reducing waste at events and conferences is to focus on reducing single-use and disposable items. The use of reusable tablecloths, plates, cups, and utensils will greatly reduce the amount of waste generated at the event. Reusable and recyclable materials should be used for all signage, decorations, and other materials. Additionally, minimising packaging for food and drink can greatly reduce waste, as well as opting for digital alternatives such as e-tickets, digital menus, and QR codes, rather than printed materials.

This year for the first time the mia's two flagship events were both paperless. We achieved this by utilising an app which included all content for both events. It also had the capability for the delegates to connect and network with each other within the platform.

Green Transportation

Encouraging attendees and vendors to use green transportation to get to and from the event is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of events and conferences. Providing incentives for public transport, car-pooling, and cycling, can all help to reduce emissions and pollution.

Sustainable Catering

Catering is an important part of any event or conference, and sustainable catering can help to reduce the environmental impact. Sustainable catering involves sourcing local, organic, and seasonal ingredients, as well as making sure that food is not wasted. Additionally, compostable, or recyclable packaging should be used for catering supplies.

Useful Resources

VisitBritain has created and updated some key documents on their VisitBritain Business Events - Resources page to support UK destinations and stakeholders across key activities, client engagement, business development and team training. The library of new resources includes the following:

VisitBritain Business Events Legacy and Impact Toolkit

Destination management organisations are having to expand their expertise to demonstrate the wider value and influence in hosting successful business events in their regions. Whilst being a vital contributor to the visitor economy and regional sector growth; it is now becoming increasingly important for DMOs/CVBs to demonstrate the importance of these events to wider communities and stakeholders, whilst minimising the impact on the environment. Alongside this, leading event venues are increasingly highlighting the wider impact and leadership they have on their communities and city business ecosystems across their annual CSR reporting. This new toolkit and guide from VisitBritain, written in partnership with #MEET4IMPACT, is designed to support DMOs/CVBs and large event venues to agree, plan and create the greatest possible impact through business events working in collaboration with their clients.

VisitBritain Sustainability toolkits

In partnership with GDS-Movement and isla, VisitBritain developed some sustainability toolkits to support you in your journey towards sustainability. Resources include an organiser guide, a responsible delegate guide, as well as call to action to request practical checklists to support decision making on travel and transport, energy, production and food and waste. More details can be found in the links:

Below are some helpful documents and resources to support your sustainable journey