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  • Writer's pictureSistema Congressi

Sustainable event management in Italy

The 2030 Agenda forces us all, In Italy as well as globally, to question about sustainable event management: how we plan and deliver sustainable events, and everything related to them, such as transport, energy consumption, the use of leftover food, and the social impact on the host cities.

We have this common need to achieve the seventeen goals of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. One of the most urgent goals is the need to combat climate change and protect the environment.

Managing sustainable events must be such a widespread practice that in the next future, it will need no longer be distinguished from organizing what we now consider regular corporate events.


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How do you make an event sustainable?

So you might wonder what it means when an event is sustainable.

Sustainable events are not zero-impact events because this would be a practically impossible endeavor. Instead, they are events that are designed and carried out in a way that reduces their impact on the environment or tries to compensate for the damage they cause.

In summary, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, a sustainable event is an event that is designed, organized, and implemented in a way that minimizes potential negative impacts and leaves a beneficial legacy for the host community.

Sustainability can, therefore, be evaluated based on the following three aspects:

  • economic

  • social

  • environmental

Are digital events sustainable?

The digital technology that allows us to connect remotely is an asset available to event organizers.

In an era of hybrid and digital events, we might think that online events are automatically green events.

Well, we need to think again: it is estimated that computers, data centers, and networks consume 10% of global energy.

Even technology has an impact on the environment.

If it is true that each one of us can do something by consciously using the resources available to us, companies can as well do something to minimize the impact of their events on the environment.

It can also be a very good subject for businesses to communicate how they work to preserve the environment to their own clients and stakeholders.

How to plan sustainable events

In most cases, a corporate event undoubtedly positively impacts the host community, involving local suppliers and promoting the use of local facilities and infrastructure.

Often the event then generates a return on tourism when the participants are so satisfied with their experience that they want to bring their family members and friends back to the same place to share in that experience.

However, remember that to make an event sustainable, the social and economic ripple effects must also be accounted for from the outset.

For example, we believe that the work relationship with suppliers and employees is also part of social and economic sustainability. Therefore, ethical behavior must be respected by the organizer and the whole chain.

Many aspects are considered when organizing an event in practice, and we will look at some very of the simplest ones to apply to start a virtuous cycle.

The organizer: the sustainable organizational secretary

All organizational phases of a sustainable event can be managed by trying to reduce to a minimum printed paper and using recycled paper whenever possible.

Simple actions, like switching off unused computers during lunch breaks or at night, for example, is a good practice that applies to all electronic devices and that, for PCs and laptops, is also useful to safeguard the privacy of the data we are handling!

Where to organize sustainable events

Choosing the location and thinking about transfers are key elements in the sustainability of our events.

In fact, the location we pick is a crucial part of the green project and must also be equipped for proper waste disposal, energy efficiency, the type of food on offer, and waste reduction.

Preference should be given to locations that are easy to get to using public transport or short-haul transport via shuttle services or private transfers.

For some types of events, public transport or cycling is not a viable choice unless these means of transportation become an activity and part of the experience that we are designing for the participants.

Immagine biking to the event's location in Rome, for example, passing through areas of the historic center that are inaccessible to cars and public transport. Or in Naples, going by subway which is considered one of the most beautiful metro in Europe.

It is also preferable to go to restaurants that you can walk to from the main venue, maybe a short walk that can become an opportunity to explore part of the city.

Of course, the most significant impact is the participants’ travel by train or plane to reach the event’s destination. This impact can be mitigated through purchasing carbon credits, reforestation projects and using carriers with a carbon offset policy.

Organizing the event in a way that can be thoroughly enjoyed remotely, i.e., in a hybrid format, is obviously another way of reducing the general impact.

Green lighting

LED lights can be chosen for the event or, better still, choose a location that already uses LED lighting.

LED lightbulbs last for around ten thousand to fifty thousand hours, depending on their color and usage. Indeed, they last much longer than incandescent bulbs.

Furthermore, they operate at lower power and can therefore be recharged with alternative energy sources such as wind and sun. It is also useful to choose LED lamps for lighting outdoor spaces, as they are easy to position.


We already know that plastic use should be avoided or, at the very least limited, so try and use glass pitchers and bottles whenever possible – take care also to sterilize them. The same goes for all cutlery and tableware, even if you are thinking of serving finger food.

Menus should contain seasonal, short supply chain, and locally sourced products. At the end of the event, any leftover food can be salvaged and distributed to those in need, as we regularly do as part of our corporate social responsibility policy.

On the other hand, waste should be appropriately disposed of so that it can be effectively used for composting.

Waste disposal is an especially crucial step, and, to ensure it is effective, recycling must be done based on regulations that can vary significantly from one location to another.

This is why, it is necessary to check disposal procedures with the appointed caterer.

Gifts and gadgets

Suppose we are organizingising an event that includes gadgets or gifts for the guests.

In that case, it is a good idea to choose gifts taking into account the participants’ expectations because otherwise, you run the risk of the guests immediately throwing them away or leaving them behind, piling up in the general waste.

Try choosing practical gifts and always prefer the local artisanal ones.

The planner’s role in sustainable events

Planners play an essential role because they guide the companies and can direct them in their choices in a way that minimizes the event’s environmental impact.

In this way, we can definitely contribute to achieving some of the Agenda 2030 objectives.

It is quite a responsibility, but it gives the satisfaction of contributing to local and global well-being.


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