Three little letters have been creating a buzz- SDGs. Yes, you got that right: SDGs. Have you heard of them? If not, you most certainly will.
SDGs stand for “Sustainable Development Goals” (also known as Global Goals), part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. These SDGs were designed to further continue, in a more macro sense, the Millennium Development Goals, whose main purpose was to decrease extreme poverty by 2015. The SDGs are comprised of 17 Goals that interplay with one another, but that affect every one of us, as represented by the approachable, and easily marketable, graphic below:
17 Goals doesn’t sound like much, does it? As we know, one cannot just put forth goals, but needs to present actionable ways to hold us accountable, measure if we attain them, and track our influence. But just how do we do this? There is a handy, dandy list!
Each Goal is broken down, resulting in 169 SDG targets. Each target has 1-3 indicators to gauge progress. For the 169 SDG targets, in total there are 232 unique indicators. Think of it as a checklist or roadmap to sustainable achievements for 2030.
You may be thinking, this is all well and good, but how does this impact me or the meetings industry? Fantastic question! We, the meetings and events industry can, and should, play a very active role in achieving these Goals.
Day in and day out, we organize events that bring hoards of people to cities, to hotels, to convention centers, to modes of transport, to restaurants, to activities… you get the idea. Each participant and city creates its own carbon footprint. The more companies and individuals are becoming aware of their influence on sustainability, the more they will want to mitigate negative effects. This may result in stakeholders not understanding the value of face-to-face meetings. Aren’t they a pull on all the aforementioned resources? Should we move to purely virtual?
We as an industry need to find a way to:
a) find and articulate the Goals that we stand behind; to present this as part of our values and missions. We need to tell events’ stories as we advance thereby constructing the most appropriate arguments for socially conscious stakeholders;
b) ask different questions to our potential host cities as to their environmental and sustainable goals. It would be contradictory and confusing if an organization stands behind, for example, SDG 4 (Quality Education) but chooses a city with one of the lowest ranking educational systems.
c) start thinking outside of the box for what the future of face-to-face meetings is. We understand the importance and value of our gatherings, but how they look today will not look the same tomorrow.
The time is now. We need to put on our thinking caps, get out our soapboxes, get creative, and identify where our values lie. You and I have a much larger influence on realizing these goals than may be initially perceived. Take this back to your team. Honestly, there is no time to wait as the movement has started. Jump aboard. Choose the SDGs you stand behind individually and collaboratively decide upon the ones for your organization.
Your job depends upon it. The industry depends upon it. The world depends upon it.
This article was inspired by a presentation given by Geneviève Leclerc with #MEET4IMPACT in April 2019.
To Learn More (Resources Consulted/Further Reading):