Meet Cambridge Stages Major Summit On ‘Shaping Sustainable Events’

April 30, 2024

The official convention bureau for Cambridge and the surrounding area has held a half-day symposium to help businesses and organisations make their conferences and meetings more sustainable.

‘Shaping Sustainable Events’, organised by Meet Cambridge at West Court, Jesus College on Wednesday 24th April, was attended by more than 100 event professionals, both organisers and venues.

The agenda addressed ways to embed environmental and social sustainability into events, how to communicate to stakeholders that this is now an essential component and where to find the resources and support to help.

Delegates heard from two keynote presentations and a panel of high-profile industry players who shared key challenges and solutions to cultivate change and progress the sustainability agenda, as well as practical tips to get started.

First to speak was Marina Bradford, an international cross-industry expert in environmental sustainability, decarbonization, supply chain and change management. She is Co-founder of TerraVerde, a travel and tourism sustainability consultancy and Founder of impact consultancy Bemari. Marina covered the importance of driving behavioural change which can itself lead to changing attitudes towards sustainability.

She was followed by Anji Miller, co-founder of Global Equality, Diversity and Equality in Technology Transfer (GEDIT), an initiative missioned to raise awareness and promote EDI in the Technology Transfer sector. Anji outlined the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion when planning events, as well as accessibility for all at both in-person and hybrid events.

Speakers then joined a panel session which also included: Stuart Websdale, Fellow and Domestic Bursar, Jesus College; Madalina Marincas, Director, Opening Doors & Venues; and Benjamin Buttery, Head of Commercial, Downing College.

Questions from the floor were debated by the panel, covering such topics as measuring environmental and social sustainability, how to progress sustainability discussions with stakeholders and existing suppliers and what venues can do to help event organisers at the planning stage.

The programme concluded with the launch of a new positive impact campaign from Meet Cambridge entitled ‘Meet Up & Make A Difference’. This has been designed to encourage venues in its portfolio and client event organiser to take an action at future events. Meet Cambridge presented four options to encourage organisers and delegates to give back to local communities. The campaign is supporting the Cambridge City Foodbank and Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC.

Judith Sloane, Head of Meet Cambridge said: “Sustainability has never been more important and as part of the business events industry, we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to mitigate the negative impacts on our environment that events can have. Social sustainability is equally important; events need to be more inclusive, diverse and accessible. However, it can be difficult to know how to get started and that’s why we decided to hold the summit today, not only to put the topic at the top of the agenda, but also to provide some tools and solutions to help organisers make changes.

“We realise that this comes with its own challenges which include obtaining buy-in from everyone involved at a very early stage in the planning process and taking inspiration from our keynote presentations and panel discussion, we hope delegates will feel more empowered to act.

“I’m also delighted to be launching our own campaign – Meet Up & Make A Difference – to ensure business meetings incorporate elements that demonstrate social responsibility, reduce waste and have a positive impact on the local community.

“Finally I’d like to thank all the many people who have helped us with this event including Jesus College for hosting, our venues for participating as exhibitors, our speakers and panel, Blendology for helping with oneTap badge technology and also the Meet Cambridge team.”

Meet Cambridge worked closely with the catering team at Jesus College to serve a vegan and vegetarian bowl food lunch, created from local seasonal produce.

The registration process was paperless using oneTap badge technology created by local company Blendology.

All those attending brought along an item to be donated to the Cambridge City Foodbank to demonstrate the importance of corporate social responsibility at business events.

Speakers and panel members at Shaping Sustainable Events, left to right: Stuart Websdale, Fellow and Domestic Bursar, Jesus College; Madalina Marincas, Director, Opening Doors & Venues; Judith Sloane, Head of Meet Cambridge; Anji Miller, co-founder of Global Equality, Diversity and Equality in Technology Transfer (GEDIT); Marina Bradford, Co-founder of TerraVerde and Founder of Bemari; and
Benjamin Buttery, Head of Commercial, Downing College