Currently the Sustainability Director for MCI – the world’s largest events and associations management company, Barcelona-based Guy Bigwood shares his thoughts on how the meeting and event industry can begin to think about sustainability strategies and how it can support the brand positioning of places hosting meetings, incentives, conferences or expositions.
- How the global meetings and events industry impacts the environment in terms of resource consumption, waste and carbon;
- The main benefits of incorporating sustainability into meetings and events;
- How Al Gore influenced MCI’s commitment to sustainability;
- Key lessons learned as President of the Green Meeting Industry Council;
- The Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Index program – its purpose and how it works;
- How sustainable MICE support the brand positioning and competitiveness of a destination.
Guy, do you remember the first time you thought about sustainability in connection with Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) and event management? What – or who – got you interested?
About 15 years ago, I started to include social activities into the events we organized as a form of team building with a mission. Then in 2005, as the Managing Director of MCI Spain, I organized an event for Europe’s top 500 Entrepreneurs and we invited former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to be our keynote. This was before his now famous book and film, An Inconvenient Truth. However, his presentation affected me deeply in the heart and mind, so I decided that it was time for me to do something about the environmental impact of our events.
Following the event, I confronted the CEO of MCI and asked him what were we going to do about it. He replied, “you are now the Director of Sustainability – go fix it.” As a result, I started a joint tenure running both the Spanish operations of MCI as the Managing Director, as well as starting up the MCI Corporate Responsibility program.