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The events industry should still prioritise environmental sustainability as they make health and safety changes in the wake of COVID-19.
This was highlighted during a webinar last week, hosted by the Event Greening Forum (EGF) – a non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable practices throughout the events industry in South Africa. The webinar explored how sustainability can be integrated with new health and safety requirements.
“We are concerned that, as industries gradually return to business, the new health and safety standards to stop the spread of COVID-19 could push sustainability further down the agenda,” said Chair of the EGF, Greg McManus.
He said the EGF had released a ‘minimum standards’ document earlier this year, detailing the minimum requirements an event should meet to be called sustainable. He added that the Forum had been working with the South African Events Council to adjust these standards for post-COVID events.
“We now need to see how we can integrate this entire COVID issue into a comprehensive document that deals with event standards, greening standards, sustainability and, obviously, health and safety.”
McManus emphasised that businesses relaunching operations should not undermine any previous sustainability work they had done. “Everything we do now is going to become the new norm, and we need to be able to compensate where there is going to be an impact on sustainability.”
MD of events company EPH Group, Rudi van der Vyver, said sustainability didn’t seem to be a top priority for the clients his company was currently dealing with but saw it as the responsibility of event management companies to reinforce sustainable options. At EPH he has achieved this by offering a range of virtual and hybrid events.
He explained that with a smaller live audience at hybrid events, making the event sustainable was less overwhelming than when dealing with larger audiences, which could be costly and time consuming. “It’s time to rethink because we can start a new normal from here and I think there’s massive opportunity from the sustainability and greening space to change our clients’ mindsets.”