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What is an example of a sustainable event?

The events industry has a significant opportunity to build a better world, states Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer at the United Nations for Climate Change as he encourages stakeholders in the global events industry to seek effective, collaborative solutions urgently. In this article, we explore three sustainable event examples - COPs (Conference of the Parties), the Sustainable Event Show, and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), as well as two of Zentive’s own recent case studies. These examples illustrate how events can prioritise sustainability while offering invaluable insights for the larger event planning landscape. 

Example 1: COPs (Conference of the Parties)

A large sign showing COP27 in Egypt

COPs stand as crucial global forums where nations convene to discuss and negotiate climate policies. These events host representatives from around the world and serve as a platform for critical climate discussions and agreements. Although each COP event differs, each prioritises sustainability through various means. In the past, this has included employing green infrastructure, reducing carbon footprints by minimising travel through virtual participation options, utilising renewable energy sources for powering the events, and implementing waste reduction strategies such as recycling and composting.


The focused implementation of sustainable practices during COP events yields significant reductions in their environmental impact. By prioritising low-carbon energy sources, emphasising waste reduction through material reuse and recycling, and favouring locally sourced foods, COP events showcased the feasibility of sustainable approaches in large-scale conferences. Encouraging sustainable transportation, employing local personnel, and incorporating sustainability into design choices further underscored the commitment to environmental responsibility. These efforts not only demonstrated the viability of sustainability in such events but also set a vital example for the global event industry to follow.

Example 2: The Sustainable Event Show

The Sustainable Event Show is a prominent industry exhibition that showcases innovations and best practices for sustainable event planning and management. It serves as an educational platform for event professionals to exchange ideas and learn about sustainable event solutions. The Sustainable Event Show emphasises event sustainability by integrating eco-friendly technologies, promoting sustainable suppliers and vendors, using recycled and biodegradable materials for displays and booths, and offering educational sessions focused on sustainable event practices.


This event has significantly influenced the event industry's adoption of sustainable practices. It has catalysed awareness, fostering a culture of sustainability among event planners, suppliers, and stakeholders. The emphasis on green solutions and educational sessions has inspired positive changes within the industry whilst creating a more sustainable event.

Example 3: UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

UNFCCC conferences bring together world leaders and stakeholders to address climate change challenges. These events play a pivotal role in shaping global climate policies and actions to combat climate change. UNFCCC events prioritise sustainability by adhering to strict guidelines for minimising environmental impact. These include selecting venues with strong sustainability credentials, reducing paper usage through digital alternatives, implementing strict waste management protocols, and offsetting carbon emissions from the event.


UNFCCC events set a high standard for sustainability in large-scale conferences. By implementing stringent sustainability measures, these events significantly reduce their environmental footprint. Moreover, the hosts of these meetings have previously taken a variety of steps to reduce the local greenhouse gas emissions, including the use of energy efficient lighting and conference venues, and promoting the use of public transport by participants. These events are credited carbon neutral, as a result, they set an example for other conferences, encouraging them to adopt similar eco-conscious practices.

Example 4: Sustainable Breakfast Meeting

A sustainable breakfast briefing atop one of the most iconic buildings in London

Zentive organised a sustainable breakfast briefing at the iconic Searcys at the Gherkin in London. This event aimed to advocate for energy transition and global Net-Zero goals, bringing together 70+ senior stakeholders, government representatives, and industry-focused media. The event was designed to reduce carbon emissions and food waste from the outset. The event venue played a vital role, with Searcys at the Gherkin chosen for its sustainability credentials and iconic location. Sustainable practices included utilising an onsite badging system for reduced paper waste, producing badges and lanyards using eco-friendly materials, and employing digital screens for branding and signage, eliminating the need for paper.


The event achieved its sustainability goals by calculating and offsetting carbon emissions and waste generated throughout the event. This included everything from site visits to attendee travel and F&B. Investment in the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve project showcased the event's commitment to environmental responsibility. The delivery of a completely vegetarian breakfast using reusable serve-ware further minimised its impact.

Example 5: Global Pathogen Variants Meeting

Looking more closely at Zentive’s own work, the Global Pathogen Variants Meeting was an inaugural hybrid event aimed at fostering collaboration among world-leading scientists to tackle the spread of infectious diseases, specifically focusing on Covid research projects. It gathered experts from 14 countries across 5 continents to participate in strategic sessions, networking opportunities, and brainstorming sessions in Cape Town.

Given the diverse international attendance, meticulous planning was crucial for the event's success. Zentive prioritised sustainability in various aspects. They partnered with a dedicated travel team to manage complex travel logistics, focusing on efficient flight arrangements and bespoke agendas. An emphasis on locally inspired, low-carbon menu choices showcased South Africa's vibrant cuisine while eliminating high-carbon ingredients like beef. Flexibility and adaptability was key when unexpected storms hit Cape Town, prompting on-site adjustments like relocating outdoor events indoors to ensure participant comfort.


Despite unforeseen weather challenges, the event maintained its momentum, fostering productive discussions and successful networking sessions. By redistributing leftover food surplus through hotel partners and using digital resources to minimise paper usage, the meeting significantly reduced waste. The strategic use of online meeting platforms and hybrid meeting models further decreased the event's carbon footprint, allowing remote participation and limiting unnecessary travel.


By examining diverse sustainable events alongside Zentive's own case studies—it's evident that sustainability is an integral aspect of forward-thinking event planning. These examples reveal the transformative power of prioritising environmentally conscious strategies across different event formats.

From COPs’ steadfast commitment to low-carbon energy sources and waste reduction to the Sustainable Event Show's advocacy for eco-friendly technologies, each event exemplifies a dedicated embrace of sustainability principles. UNFCCC sets an exemplary standard by meticulously adhering to stringent sustainability guidelines, influencing other conferences to adopt similar eco-conscious practices. Furthermore, Zentive's Global Pathogen Variants Meeting and Sustainable Breakfast Meeting stand as prime examples of green event planning and implementation of sustainable practices, showcasing innovative solutions in the face of challenges, and actively minimising environmental impacts.


About Zentive Agency

Zentive is a sustainable events agency in London focused on doing good. By integrating technology and following sustainable event practices, we create eco-friendly events that help you connect, reward and motivate your audience whilst leaving a lasting positive impact on the world. We believe in constantly pushing the boundaries of event planning and execution, embracing cutting-edge technologies, creative concepts, and immersive experiences. Our goal is to ensure that each event we organise leaves a lasting impact on attendees, participants, all stakeholders along the value chain, and the planet.


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