Paper Smart in Rio

The meetings industry is a huge creator of waste. The average meeting attendee is estimate to produce over 8kg of waste, and that can be significantly more at large Events.  At COP15 we measured the waste footprint to be 3 tons per person!

Thankfully we all are learning and I am very happy to see that at the UN Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio, working together with the UN Global Compact, we have managed to reduce waste significantly by implementing the UN’s PaperSmart guidelines, and consequently eliminating brochures, handouts and program guides. We even managed to engage exhibitors in eliminating all handouts on their stands. In place of the tons of paper we introduced a mobile app from QuickMobile. At the moment it looks like waste will be less than a 1kg per person.

Working together with the Hotel Windsor Barra, we expect that at least 50% of this waste will be recycled, with the hotel earning profit from the sale of this material. You can ready more about the other sustainability initiatives here:





I was sent this excellent  infographic today which nicely summed up the waste challenge and serves to remind us the advantages of using technology and thinking out of the box with a goal to reduce waste upstream, and reuse and recycle downstream.

Life of Garbage
Created by:

A New Era of Sustainability: UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study

Released at the UNGC summit today is an excellent survey prepared by Accenture who questioned 766 CEOs and found out:

· In spite of the recent economic downturn, an overwhelming majority of corporate CEOs – 93 percent – say that sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies.

· Furthermore, CEOs believe that, within a decade, a tipping point could be reached that fully meshes sustainability with core business – its capabilities, processes and systems, and throughout global supply chains and subsidiaries.

According to the survey, A New Era of Sustainability: UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2010, the global economic downturn did little to dampen corporate commitment to sustainability. In fact it seems to have done the opposite: 80 percent of the CEOs say the downturn has raised the importance of sustainability. As businesses address the challenges of the financial crisis, sustainability is being recognized as a source of cost efficiencies and revenue growth.

The survey results indicate that businesses are taking sustainability more seriously. In a similar survey conducted in 2007, 50 percent of the CEO respondents said that sustainability issues had become part of their company’s strategy and operations. In the 2010 survey, that number jumped to 81 per cent.

Three corporate attributes – brand, trust and reputation – were by far the primary considerations CEOs cited for acting on sustainability. They were identified by 72 percent of the respondents as one of their biggest motivators, followed in descending order by: the potential for revenue growth and cost reduction (cited by 44 percent), personal motivation (42 percent), consumer and customer demand (39 percent) and employee engagement and retention (31 percent).

You can follow the UNGC Summit on Live Webcast:

Building a New Era of Sustainability

I am in New York with MCI President Roger Tondeur for the 2010 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit. This is a big day for me, as it see the realization of a dream. In 2007 under the recommendation of Mike Wallace (now director of the G3 framework at GRI), we signed a letter of commitment and became a signatory of the Global Compact. Our journey since then has seen MCI work to incorporate the 10 global compact principles into the day to day operations of MCI. Now 3 years have passed and Sustainability is one of the key pillars of MCIs business plan, and this commitment is demonstrated with the investment, energy and time dedicated to sustainability by the MCI management team. As a result of this journey, MCI has become increasingly involved in the organization of events about sustainability. We organized the COP15 Climate Conference, 3 regional Global Compact meetings, the GRI conference, the world business summit on climate change, and now the big one – The Global Compact 2010 Leaders Summit.

By participating at the summit Roger and I are coming to network with other members, seek opportunities for collaboration and to learn from other organizations best practices. As Roger said to me today, “I know sustainability is important, but we have to get much more knowledgeable about the subject and how we integrate it into MCIs future”

It’s great to see that real progress is being made globally, and that the movement toward a more sustainable economy and business context is clearly gaining momentum. Its even more rewarding to see that by integrating sustainability into our business strategy, MCI has developed the skills and content knowledge that can help organizations such as the Global Compact strategically improve in the deliver of their messaging, and their ability to engage and inspire their members to go the next level in developing value for their businesses.

You can follow the UNGC Summit on Live Webcast:

How associations can integrate sustainability to deliver enhanced member value

Business case for sustainability

Through our consulting work with the UN Global Compact and with various trade associations, I have come to realize that there is a massive business opportunities for Associations. Associations can lead the charge towards a low carbon, more sustainable and responsible economy. The following presentation I gave this week at the Association Congress in London  sums up some of my current thoughts. Happy reading and I would love to have your thoughts and comments.

Mandatory Reporting on Sustainability

I am at the World Business Summit on Climate Change, which we are helping to organize in Copenhagen as a feed in event to COP15. The event features over 800 CEOs of industry and major climate change experts. As a recommendation to be submitted to the UN at COP15, industry is asking that Carbon reporting becomes Mandatory in a companies statutory accounts.

Today the Climate Disclosure Standards Board in conjunction with the  Carbon Disclosure project and the big 4 accounting firms launched a globally accepted framework, based on existing standards, for corporate reporting on climate change. This will be interesting for your CFOs –

Sustainability and carbon reporting will become mandatory in many countries in the near future. It already is in Denmark, the UK, probably will soon be in Norway, Australia and perhaps even in China. The US is not far behind.

The meetings industry will soon be under pressure to measure their emissions. It wont be optional!Perhaps its time for an industry standard way of measure the GHG emissions of the events sector?

Its interesting that some countries have chosen the Global Compact as their reporting standard. Thankfully sector companies such as MCI and Intercontinental Hotels and associations such as MPI, have already signed the compact so will be ahead of the game.

MCI is working towards its footprint measurement implementing the GreenGlobe Index system and will publish its footprint in the next annual report.

For more info on sustainability reporting

Climate Disclosure Standards Board

Future employees demand change.

Participating at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in conversations with the CEOs of Pepsico, Unilever, WPP, etc I was stuck by how they clearly recognised the need of having a leadership CSR strategy for their business. One of their key reasons was the need to attract, retain and manage talent.(you can watch this session here )

I realised this today when asked on the blog to provide some more detail about MCIs CSR program from a university student. I thought that this may be interesting to share, as it clearly shows the interest from your people following a companies reputation via their blog. Here is my reply

Continue reading

Raising the Bar on CSR Performance

Last week I had the honor and the pleasure of speaking at the IAPCO general meeting. IAPCO (International Association of Professional Congress Organisers) is a non-profit organisation that represents professional organisers and managers of international and national congresses, conventions and special events.

Following their objective of “raising standards of service and providing continuing education to its members”, IAPCO kindly invited me to present to over 66 senior managers and owners of some of the worlds most important congress companies.

For the concept of my presentation and the workshops afterwards, I decided to focus the session on the need to “raise the bar”. CSR in parts is now widely implemented in many events and pco companies. However levels of success and degrees of integration vary. Many people have started environmental programs, but have little understand of the other components of CSR, such as corporate governance, labour and human rights.

In fact the meetings industry is not a high performer when it comes to CSR. So its time for us all to be looking to raise the bar, through consistent action, standards, measurement, reporting and certification. You can see and download my presentation here.

What I particularly liked and impressed me were the results of the continuing workshops. We divided the delegates into 3 teams:

  • Green events
  • CSR in events
  • CSR in the office

The level of content and new ideas coming out of the workshops was excellent. I very much look forward to the publishing of the resulting guidelines. The CSR in events content is particularly creative and original. Congratulations to IAPCO and to your members.

CSR 2.0: New Era of Responsibility

Speaking in Lisbon yesterday yet again I was asked the same two questions:

  • How will CSR fair in the economic crisis?
  • With all the current financial concerns wont CSR be at the top of the list of cost costing exercises?

Perhaps. It certainly was for some of the large banks who in the last few weeks have reduced or eliminated their ESG and SRI (social responsible investing) analysis sections. However I like to think there were other more serious financial drivers in those organizations such as JPMorgan and Citibank (caused by irresponsible industry lending practices).

Personally I think that there never has been a more important time for CSR. But this needs to be a more business focused and organizationally integrated CSR. CSR needs to get out of the CSR department and become an embedded and critical ingredient of every business unit.

Its time for CSR 2.0

CSR needs to evolve from just environmental focus to a complete responsible and sustainable business focus. There are two key business drivers that should be considered in tomorrow’s csr programs

  1. Sustainable business is good business. As we highlight in our presentation, Sustainability is a key strategy to be used in crisis times. True sustainable businesses are efficient and flexible. They lower operational costs and increase revenues through innovation and adaptation to new trends.
  2. Trust. Recent polls show a dramatic erosion of faith in business. Three of four Americans trust business less than they did one year ago. Only a third trust business to do the right thing – half what it used to be. Among young people, the loss of confidence is especially marked. Governments and corporations face an important task to address this trust issue and CSR will be a key tool in this process

New Era of Responsibility

To remind us all, a true CSR strategy is not just about the environment as many people believe in our industry. Its all about transparency, accountability, human and labour rights, corruption AND the environment; All things that have suffered under the last 20 years of unstoppable growth. Just as mentioned by Obama in his inauguration speech, its time for a “new era of responsibility”. Its time to restore trust in the administrations and in the corporate world. And its time for the meetings and events industry to consider our role in this big picture.

Global Compact 2.0

In MCI and with various clients we have chosen to become signatories of the UNGlobal Compact. The UN Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices.

Today the Secretary General of the United Nations gave an inspiring speech to the world leaders in Davos. To those consumed by the effects of the economic crisis he reminded us of the importance of business to be a part of the new CSR community – something he calls Global Compact 2.0. In his eloquent words;

We stand at a crossroads. It is important that we realize we have a choice. We can choose short-sighted unilateralism and business as usual. Or we can grasp global cooperation and partnership on a scale never before seen. Yes, globalization had lifted many from poverty. Yet the spread of free markets and capital did not raise all boats. In fact, it hurt many of the world’s poorest people.

The Global Compact was our enlightened response. It challenged business to embrace universal principles and to partner with the United Nations on the big issues.Ten years on, the Global Compact stands as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. We can boast more than 6,000 business participants in more than 130 countries. The Global Compact has become a by-word for corporate responsibility.

Its members have moved far beyond mere philanthropy. They have pioneered new standards of “best practice” in the areas of human rights and labor law. In many countries they work to protect the environment and fight against corruption. They have undertaken hundreds of projects in health, education and infrastructure in countries around the world.

Now, a new set of crises prompts a renewed sense of mission. So today I urge you to join a new phase of the Global Compact.

In the meetings industry there are few signatories to the Global Compact. I think as an industry

It is time to get off the fence and take up this agenda seriously” – Ban Ki-Moon

I recommend that you watch the full video or read the text of his speech.

The writing is right there on the wall. Without trust, we cannot prosper

Every downturn is followed by an upturn. If you make the right investments now, you will be laying the foundations to tackle critical longterm issues. You will be in the forefront of a new green economy.

I encourage you to help create a future based on a low-carbon economy – green jobs, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The words have been spoken. Now its our turn to become crusaders of the new CSR. Its time for a new era of responsibility.


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