John Robinson, Managing Director of CDI World UK, makes a no-nonsense case for incorporating Net Zero into the global events business.
Given the huge economic and supply chain disruption that continues to batter a world that thought it was in full recovery mode, the prospect of Net Zero can seem like a bridge too far. Shouldn’t we be putting all our energy into rebuilding what was lost rather than adding a further huge challenge to the must-do list?
It’s a fair question and one that anyone who runs a business has probably wrestled with. My answer, in common with my colleagues in the USA and Singapore, is that pursuing Net Zero is a worthwhile objective that, if managed well, gives fresh impetus to business decisions – whether you’re recruiting new people or buying that advanced CNC router that will speed throughput by 20 percent.
Actions speak louder
Even if you park, for one moment, the current headline-catching cause of reducing the harmful effects of human activity on the atmosphere, our wider obligation to protect and improve the environment by adopting sustainably smart business practices has never gone away. In fact, the events industry was one of the first to recognise its responsibilities in this area.
We’re practical people, we design, engineer, purchase materials, transport, build and dismantle structures. This gives us a more direct and tangible relationship with environmental concerns than many. But we’re also aware that ‘talking the talk’ is not enough. Actions speak louder and are the only things that make a difference.
Recent events have also underlined the critical importance and the vulnerability of supply chains. Never has it been more apparent that we live in an interdependent and interconnected world. And this means we have to regard the impact of any actions we take on the whole of the chain – not just on the links we control directly.
ISO 14001 Certification offers real benefits
That’s why we have obtained ISO 14001 certification for our Environmental Management System (EMS). This may sound like a dry administrative exercise but offers far-reaching benefits. One of the greatest being to provide a consistent means of gauging our impact on the environment. It includes a digital ‘paper trail’ that enables us to report on sustainability metrics upstream and downstream.
Importantly, our EMS is just as valuable in planning as it is for monitoring and recording. We use it from the earliest stages in a project to limit environmental impacts. It encourages us to ask questions. Why, for example, do we need to obtain materials from Supplier A who will have to transport them 400 miles when we can source similar materials from Supplier B who may be a whisker more expensive but holds stock locally?
We’re also aware that our clients are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of their own businesses. Like us, they have to think about their supply chain of which we are a part. They also have to demonstrate to their own stakeholders and clients that they have firm control of their environmental performance. We can help them do this using solid data.
Our Sustainability Champion
While we’ve made good progress to date in embedding sustainable practice into every part of our business, this isn’t a fit-and-forget exercise – we must continue to strengthen our effectiveness and ambition in what can be a complex and multifaceted field. To do this we are working with ESSA (the Event Supplier and Services Association), our industry trade body in the UK, to appoint a Sustainability Champion who will spearhead CDI World’s progress.
With group level responsibility and solid project management experience, this individual will definitely be expected to walk the walk. In fact, we’ve already informally tagged the role as our (Net) Zero Hero. There’s no doubt that achieving this goal will be a formidable task, but it’s one we’re taking on with enthusiasm and determination.
Find out more about our sustainability practices here.