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New era of sustainability to shape future of industry, report finds

A new era of sustainability is rising – and is set to shape the future of the events industry, according to a new white paper from the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index).

The white paper details case studies, data analysis and actions taken by 47 destination management organisations (DMOs) and municipalities to become destinations of choice for meetings, events and business tourism. It defines six converging megatrends that present destinations and the events industry with opportunities to improve their performance and adapt to the risks presented by climate breakdown, ecocide, demographic shifts, social change and digitalisation.

The report said: “Consumer awareness about sustainability had a huge moment in 2018 and 2019, as widespread pressure and high-profile climate and anti-plastic campaigns moved the debate from the narrow (but vocal) fringes into the mainstream. Driven by concerned students, citizens, governments and corporations, a new era of sustainability is rising and it’s touching every corner of the world.

“Consumers are now actively searching for and buying into ethical and resource-efficient products and lifestyles. In 2018-19, the campaign on plastic went mainstream, significantly influenced by the “Attenborough Effect”. Event attendees are demanding that organisers get drastic about plastic.

“In summary, the five megatrends of social change, digitisation, climate chaos, ecocide and the demographic shifts on our wondrous planet will increasingly drive innovation, redefine relationships and transform purchasing behaviour. This will disrupt the events and tourism industry, shaping destination management and brand marketing strategies over the next 20 years.”

The report also highlights four fundamental building blocks for DMOs to become sustainable destination stewards and defines eight tactics on how destinations can integrate sustainability into their core strategy and become leaders in future-oriented collaboration.

MCI CEO Sébastien Tondeur said: “Scientific predictions about the rate and effect of human impact on climate and our living planet are increasing in certainty and accuracy. As an industry, we need to step up, scale up and speed up our sustainability efforts. Destinations are key to the transformation of our industry, and the GDS-Index is an important catalyst helping them transform.”

Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, added that the economic, social and environmental significance of the events industry is massive.

She said: “We could influence safe and fair working conditions for 26 million jobs, direct $1.5 trillion USD towards more responsible supply chains, and inspire 1.5 billion participants to action. Our industry has a decisive role in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 SDGs. The next couple of years represent a serious tipping point for us all – and for the generations to come.”

Guy Bigwood, MD of the GDS-Index added: “Driven by concerned students, citizens, local governments and corporations a new era of sustainability is rising, and will touch every corner of the events industry. We believe that a better and more restorative global future lies in urban innovation and collaborative action. The GDS-Index plays a key role to engage, inspire and enable destinations to become more sustainable places to visit, meet and thrive in.”

The GDS-Index whitepaper is available for download.