Mar 20 2008

Serious Strategy & Tools for Pursuing Sustainability

February 14, 2008 – Nearly 50 leading U.S. and European institutional investors managing over $1.75 trillion in assets today released a climate change action plan at the United Nations that will boost investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies and require tougher scrutiny of carbon-intensive investments that may pose long-term financial risks. Additionally, European investors managing $6.5 trillion in assets supported the action plan “in principle.”

The action plan was announced at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, hosted by Ceres and the United Nations Foundation, attended by more than 450 investor, financial and corporate leaders from around the world.

Last year was remembered as the year that governments, organizations and corporations around the world recognized the effects of climate change. Sustainability and climate change evolved from discussions among environmental activist to heated boardroom debates. A global tipping point was reached as more major corporations and associations developed and implemented sustainability as a business strategy going beyond CSR programs as customers demonstrate their own preferences for buying from sustainable businesses.

As the report above illustrates, 2008 is shaping up to be no different.

Already, most large international companies produce a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or sustainability annual report. While it is not the only indicator that should be used, many companies already declare their greenhouse gas emissions, with over 3000 of the largest corporations registering them with the Carbon Disclosure Project. However, there is a hole in the majority of these reports: most companies do not yet include scope 3 emissions or the emissions from meetings, events and business travel.

As travel and flying is such a large emitter of carbon, you can expect things to change in 2008. So if you are responsible for organizing events or meetings, expect to be asked to consider the environmental impact of your activities and to provide statistics about carbon emission levels, waste levels and resource utilization.

In response to this business challenge, MCI launched Sustainability Services (see link to right).

These consulting services provide an evaluation of a client’s global or national meetings and events – first to calculate the environmental footprint and then to offer practical solutions for a sound sustainability plan. Key components include carbon-reduction strategies, operational protocols, staff training and measurement systems needed for annual sustainability reporting. MCI’s Green Event Management methodology offers clients an end-to-end approach to reducing the environmental impact of a meeting or event.

One of the key tools used by the team is the MeetGreen Calculator. Designed and licensed from Meeting Strategies Worldwide, the online tool uses a list of over 100 questions to analyze and report on the environmental impact of an event. These questions are split into 8 categories: destination selection, accommodation, venue, food and beverage, transport, exhibition, communication, and back-office organization.

The Calculator then compares practices of a specific event against other events/meetings in the database. Results provide a benchmark for future events and a comparison with other events. In this way, a corporation can compare its events against other organizations’ events. Or they can benchmark them against their own events. So for example a large pharmaceutical company could measure and compare all of its 1000 annual events and then report them in a way which could be included into the company’s annual report, website or memorandum.

Once a clear picture has been calculated of the environmental footprint of an organization’s meetings, MCI’s Sustainable Services consultants can help to design and implement coherent policies and processes to reduce emissions, resource usage and waste production. Together with carbon partners, MCI then designs a carbon management strategy to offset emissions through a portfolio of environmental and social projects such as reforestation, avoided deforestation, renewable energy and environmental education programs, both locally and internationally.

MCI Sustainability Services offer clients a thorough methodology for starting to develop a tangible strategy and action plan.

MCI’s commitment is to conceive, create and produce memorable events and projects that are environmentally and socially responsible, ethical and safe, and represent an integral part of our CSR strategy and our vision to help build community for a better world.

For more, locate the Sustainability Services website on the column to the right or contact MCI’s group sustainability director Guy Bigwood ([email protected]).

About the author

Peter Turner

As MCI's Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy, I help associations build and execute global growth strategies. Over the past 30 years I have served three associations (ASAE, MPI and IEEE Computer Society) as a leader of business, product and partnership development.

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