Note From UFI Headquarters

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As the summer is drawing to a close here in Europe, the UFI team is back at full strength – and also increasingly back in our office in Paris! It’s been an unusually wet summer across Central Europe – not the only part of the world that encounters changing weather. Be it forest fires and heatwaves, Hurricane Ida slamming New Orleans and New York in the US, floods washing away whole parts of cities in Germany – humans have already warmed up the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, and we’re now faced with changing climate. The latest IPCC report (link to: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/) paints a scary picture.

Starting at the end of October, the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow will track the progress countries and industries around the world are making towards the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). By then, our industry, the global events industry, plans to have a “Net Zero Carbon Events” pledge ready for launch. Together with our partner associations ICCA and AIPC, UFI has been involved in this project from the beginning, liaising with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC (link to https://unfccc.int/about-us/about-the-secretariat), and providing the project secretariat for the initial pre-project phase. Going forward, the initiative will be hosted by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) as our industry’s global umbrella body.

This month, the draft pledge is being shared for comment with all interested parties from the whole events industry – an inclusive and open process to comply with the expectations from the UN. All comments will be reviewed for the final version of the pledge. Please go to https://netzerocarbonevents.org for more information – and please sign your company up as supporter. As I am writing this column, the number of companies and institutions from all around the world joining this initiative is growing every day.

Our exhibition industry had done a lot around sustainability in the past years already – our latest UFI report, released this summer (link to https://www.ufi.org/archive-research/status-of-sustainability-in-the-exhibition-industry-july-2021/)shows that. This report aggregates findings and insights from several research projects conducted by UFI on sustainability. The research details result for all regions of the world and shows that exhibitors and visitors believe exhibitions can help them save time and money, while reducing travel to multiple locations and the related carbon footprint. Now we can align as the whole events industry with one joint pledge and approach. It will elevate our industry a lot on the global advocacy level. It will help us all to combat global warming.

Of course, this will be a topic as well in a few weeks, when I will hopefully meet many of you again in person at our UFI Global Congress in Rotterdam – 3 to 6 November. Just on time, the Dutch government has lifted most of their travel restrictions – now, everyone who is fully vaccinated can travel to the Netherlands without facing quarantine on site. You’ll find the details about that on the Congress website at
www.uficongress.org.