Shaping our future: spotlight on sustainability in events

With the UAE declaring 2023 as the Year of Sustainability, Tom Champion, Client Relations Director for GES EMEA, discusses the importance of reducing the environmental impact of the Middle East’s events and exhibitions.

“Sustainability across the Middle East events and exhibitions industry is fast gaining attention and importance. Increasingly, businesses in the region are recognising the need to adopt more sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact, promote social responsibility, and ensure long-term economic viability.

“This is especially prescient with the UAE declaring 2023 as the Year of Sustainability, alongside being the host country for COP28. Now the events industry, often seen as unavoidably wasteful and excessive, needs to show the world that it can lead the way in sustainable design, waste disposal, sourcing, and recycling. It also has an incredible story to tell of an industry innovating to produce products and services that not just reduce environmental impact but look towards a net zero future; 2023 represents a landmark year to continue this transformation.

“For more than 90 years, GES has served the exhibition and events industry globally, managing more than 4,000 live experiences and supporting over 150,000 exhibitors each year. At this scale, when the business makes a change, it makes a big difference. It’s a responsibility that GES takes seriously, and proactively through a range of initiatives.

“When it comes to event materials, the business promotes the use of recyclable graphics, flooring, and reusable fixtures. By utilising environmentally friendly materials, GES EMEA ensures that the resources consumed during an event have a minimal long-term impact on the planet, and maximum usage for every material it does consume. Furthermore, clients are encouraged to embrace LED lighting solutions, which are energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan than traditional lighting options. By switching to LED lighting, clients can significantly reduce energy consumption and lower their carbon footprint.

“The key to this innovation, and its subsequent results is, predictably, data. GES EMEA is a creative specialist, but it builds its ideas on quality intelligence, through its Visit brand, supported by Event Intelligence. By tapping into thousands of events around the world, by analysing delegate movements and travel, by understanding the wants and needs of every exhibitor, events can be curated to maximise every resource and minimise every piece of waste. Again, as with many other innovations, scale helps – the more GES EMEA knows, the bigger the positive impact it has on the sustainability of events.

“Integrating Event Intelligence and building events utilising our sustainable products, from recyclable carpet to sustainable fabric stands, allows us to showcase our dedication to creating impactful and sustainable experiences, leaving a lasting impression on show exhibitors and visitors.

“Combining these sustainable practices, GES EMEA helps clients create memorable events that align with their environmental values, and for these values and efforts to be put on show in front of audiences to reassure them that the events they go to care about the environment.

“From trade shows and exhibitions to corporate conferences, GES EMEA as a business recognises the importance of incorporating sustainability into every aspect of planning and execution. With their expertise and commitment to eco-conscious practices, GES EMEA enables clients to make a positive impact on the environment while still delivering exceptional experiences for attendees.

Photos: GES