World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day (WED), and I would like to invite you all to take a couple of minutes to read this email and reflect about your planet.

The economic and financial turmoil sweeping the globe is a true wake-up call, sounding an alarm about the need to improve upon old patterns of growth and make a transition to a new era of greener, cleaner and more sustainable development. The meetings industry is playing a critical role in bring business and government leaders together to address these issues. MCI recently organized the World Business Summit on Climate Change, and will shortly organize the International Climate Change Conference, the UN Global Compact Leader Summit and most importantly the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This is probably the most important event of our lifetime, as it will result in a new global treaty for climate change. To put it simply it will determine the composition of the air we breathe.

Each of us needs to act both on a personal and individual level. Climate change and its affects are not a threat: they are a reality. While all countries will suffer, the poor will bear the brunt of the impact. Already over 300,000 people each year perish from climate change and more than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030 (see Global Humanitarian UN report).

BEST and optimistic estimates from the IPCC show that Global temperature will rise by an average of almost 2º by 2050. That means there will be peak increases of about 10ºC. I wonder if all those new hotels, congress centers and agency offices being built around the world today can handle this temperature increase? And what about the terrible water shortages faced today in some areas which will drastically worsen in the next 20 years.  If you combine these issues with the other effects of climate change (more frequent natural disasters, collapse of countries, terrorism, disease etc) the global meetings industry is at huge risk!

The Earth faces the grave threat of climate change and the world needs a “Green New Deal” focused on investing in renewable sources of energy, eco-friendly infrastructure and energy efficiency. This will not only create jobs and spur recovery but also help tackle global warming. If we invest even part of the substantial new economic stimulus packages in the green economy, we can turn today’s crisis into tomorrow’s sustainable growth. This provides huge opportunity for the meetings industry. Each and every one of us can be a foot soldier or captain in this transformation by helping to facilitate meetings  that change the way the world meets, and works.

But our planet needs more than just action by governments and corporations; it needs each of us. Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose we can make a tremendous difference. On this World Environment Day, lets all take concrete steps toward making the planet greener and cleaner. Switch off the lights. Take public transportation. Recycle. Plant a tree. Clean up your local park. Buy more efficient electro domestics. Hold corporations responsible for their environmental practices. And urge your government representatives to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen.

Have a nice weekend


ps. Disclosure: I plagiarized some of the Un Secretary Generals speech.

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