Where the future begins: understanding and accountability
Last week we had the pleasure to launch our 2013 Sustainability report ‘Where the Future Begins.’ The process to develop a sustainability report is invaluable, very insightful and significantly improves strategy and engagement. I would like to share some of my conclusions from this latest experience:
Using a framework
To structure our sustainability report and to ensure we make a balanced and transparent report, we use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines. This year we migrated to the new GRI G4 guidelines. This new improved framework is a significant change from the G3 version. The main thing is that it makes you really focus on materiality – ie the issues that matter. To do this you need to not only review your own managements point of view but you have to do a thorough stakeholder engagement process. For this we surveyed and spoke to hundreds of clients, suppliers, and employees. This led us to develop a materiality matrix that we use to identify big mega trends effecting our industry, the key sustainability issues and then the key business opportunities. Here is the chart.
The rest of the report is then developed based on how we manage the key issues that we identified. This year we had the report externally assured by the external auditors at iCompli. This was a superb experience and really forced us to go deeper and more thorough in our reporting.
Understanding our impacts
There is much talk about the economic impacts of the meeting industry at the moment (see Padraig’s great post). This is very important but we should not forget the combined social, economic and environmental impacts of the event industry. Here are a few of ours:
- In 2013 we organised 4,233 events, convening 1.26 million participants.
- The indirect economic impact from delegate spend at our events is a staggering €1.5Billion. Our direct impact was €340 Million.
- Our direct carbon emissions are only 1% of the total emissions if you include all of the events we organise for our client. Together they are estimated at 385,331 tons of CO2e which is equal to the emissions of the Indian city of Pondicherry!
- The estimated waste generated by the events we organise is 5,919,477 kg
- MCI talents volunteered a total number of 3,380 hours, raising over €330,000, supporting 86 community projects and bringing the total amount of money raised for charity since 2009 to €1.3 million.
Clearly there are some very tangible impacts here . We need to address the negative impacts and be accountable for these, but looking to the future I believe we also need to place even more effort to quantify the intangible benefits. Events by their very nature bring people together. By engaging and supporting local communities and international sustainability initiatives events can leave a positive legacy through education, knowledge sharing, collaboration and ultimately socio-economic development. Events are a key vehicle to advancing society to a more sustainable future. Looking deeper into local economies, employing local staff, choosing local suppliers and supporting local community projects can significantly improve the development of the local economy.
As my boss the MCI CEO Sebastian Tondeur shared “We are at a critical turning point as an industry, either we accept the need to better understand and be more accountable as an industry for our economic. social and environmental impacts or we open ourselves to criticism and damage of the very market we operate in, I challenge the industry to strategically embrace sustainability in its full sense, and to advance transparency and disclosure to prove what a vital part this industry plays in the prosperity and the sustainable development of the planet”.
Looking to the future
Through our ever growing understanding of the impacts of our business, the underlying trends affecting the planet and a bigger sense of accountability, we are very excited about the future positive role of MCI in society, and the business opportunities this presents. We are taking our sustainability program to the next level and so this year our report is entitled – “Where the Future Begins.”
What’s your view on this subject? Have you used GRI? Do you report your impacts?