Christian Druart, Secretary of the UFI Sustainable Development Committee, talks about the sustainability in the exhibition industry, presenting the UFI Forum on Sustainable Development, taking place in Orlando, (USA), from 6 to 7 August 2018.
Interview by Monika Fourneaux Ceskova
Christian, the theme of your forum on sustainability is “engagement, collaboration and measurement”. What does this mean exactly?
As you know, sustainability isn’t exactly a new topic in the event industry, however, if we are to take sustainable development to the next level in the exhibition industry, we need to focus on these three drivers: engagement includes securing commitment from top management; collaboration is about stakeholders working seamlessly together across the event value chain (the organiser and venue need to cooperate on this issue); and measurement is about having the right data to ensure you’re “in the know” – after all, what gets measured, gets done!
Why is the forum held in Orlando (USA) and who is it for?
As with other UFI events, this conference focuses on a different theme each time, and travels from one place to the next – always with the goal of creating a platform for global knowledge exchange. It’s open to all professionals from the event industry, not just UFI members.
Our last three forums on sustainability were held in Asia, where interest is growing not just in traditional environmental factors but also in social and economic aspects. The US exhibition market has its own unique attributes, but our industry is global and many major players from each segment (organiser, venue, service provider) have global reach. Our conferences are therefore the ideal opportunity for anyone interested in understanding the many facets of sustainability. Our Orlando programme (www.ufi.org/orlando2018) is scheduled to take place just before the SISO Leadership Conference and current registrations are including people from all over the world; the USA, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK.
What about your choice of speakers? Can you tell us more about their sustainability initiatives and achievements?
The speakers will tackle the three drivers I mentioned before, presenting their initiatives and best practices, and discussing it all with the audience. Along with UBM, INFORMA is clearly a leader among international organisers, thanks to its strong corporate approach to sustainability. Amsterdam RAI, as a venue, and IMEX and Greenbuild, as events, are impressive examples of how stakeholders are successfully engaged across the value chain of events. When it comes to standards, measurement and reporting, there’s a need to clarify the status of existing frameworks and tools, so we’ll be discussing initiatives from the US, France and Mexico, as well as some global ones, such as the Green Venue report or ISO and GRI.
How do you see sustainability developing over time? Which country or region is most up to date with sustainability in the event industry?
To be honest, I think overall development is rather slow, but this applies to many industries. There are many reasons for this: other short-term priorities, lack of dedicated resources, uncertainty about where to start, how to avoid “greenwashing”, and so on. But our annual award scheme, launched in 2012 (www.ufi.org/sdaward), has shown that many companies all over the world have managed to implement successful initiatives. Each local environment is different and there’s no single ranking that “fits all”. Either you commit and progress or you stay out of it and wait until pressure from your stakeholders forces you to act…quickly!