Sustainability is embedded in our ethos and plays a role in much of what we do, including the events we help to orchestrate through our meetings and events division. Our efforts are being noticed – American Express Meetings & Events just won the Sustainability Pioneer award at the Conference News (CN) Agency Awards.

We spoke with Eloisa Urrutia, head of Meetings & Events Sustainability, to find out more about the award, the sustainability work her team is doing, and how we are helping clients reach their own sustainability goals.

Q. Can you share more about what it means to win the Sustainability Pioneer award?

A. We are very excited about this award. In CN’s own words, the award “recognizes the mentality and actions of an agency as a whole, focusing on how the issue of sustainability runs through the core of the business and how their events impact all stakeholders positively, from a social, economic, and ethical point of view.”

Q. How does the issue of sustainability run through the core of the business?

A. As the world’s leading travel and meetings management company, American Express Global Business Travel has a responsibility to drive the industry’s net-zero journey. Our mission includes an environmental strategy to achieve net-zero emissions and zero waste, a social action plan to increase diversity, inclusion, and community well-being, and a governance structure that embeds environmental, social, and governance across the core business.

Q. What is the organization doing to drive sustainability?

A. We have committed to science-based targets by year-end 2023, becoming net zero by 2050, and we are carbon neutral for our own travel. We believe in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as the future of air travel decarbonization and have formed a strategic alliance with Shell Aviation to help scale SAF. In recognition of our initiatives, we are in the top 1% of companies rated with EcoVadis Platinumin the travel industry.

Meetings & Events is also leading an ambitious journey to drive sustainability across the industry’s ecosystem. We actively collaborate in key movements and initiatives to build a common industry framework, such as the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative backed by the United Nations.

Q. How does Meeting & Events work to spread awareness about sustainability?

A. We are committed to driving sustainability and sharing knowledge with internal and external stakeholders. Internally, we have built a robust education platform providing tools, resources, and training to engage our teams and plan more sustainable events.

To foster collective action externally, we partner at key industry events to share expertise, developing white papers and blogs, providing insights through media interviews and social media, and conducting client events and webinars.

In addition, we extend our sustainability practices to our supply chain through collaborative practices and new partnerships, such as food donation and material recycling and upcycling.

Q. How is Meetings & Events helping clients with their sustainability goals?

A. Organizations need help understanding and creating actionable targets and tangible actions for emission reduction. To support our clients´ net-zero journey and embed sustainability into their meetings and events programs, we have created a robust set of sustainability solutions aligned with the highest industry standards and methodologies. Our sustainability value proposition is unique in the industry and includes flexible, scalable elements that can be progressively incorporated both at event level and strategic meeting program level. This can help organizations take the appropriate steps to build and embed a solid and tangible event decarbonization roadmap and monitor and report progress.

As measurement is key, we have invested in our own technology to measure, monitor, and report event emissions at event and aggregate program levels. We have also developed tools to reduce emissions and score the sustainability achievements of events. Lastly, an offset platform helps clients continue to progress forward in the instances where there are unavoidable emissions.

Q. Launching a sustainable meetings and events program can be daunting. How can an organization get started?

Do not delay the start of your sustainability journey because you are unsure on what steps to take! Build in elements progressively with our flexible solutions.

  1. Think about your sustainability ambition: Where do you want to sit in three to five years? Build your yearly plan accordingly. A roadmap with clear ownership is the passport for the future success of a sustainable meetings and events program.
  2. Start with the foundations: Educate and engage your teams, get everyone onboard to drive applicability and success. Sustainability is a key trigger for engagement. People usually like to be a part of something good.
  3. Measure and report your next events with a certified event emission calculator to help you understand your most impactful sources of emissions.
  4. Implement essential measures to reduce event emission and involve your supply chain: Reduction is the cornerstone of sustainability and your supply chain alignment is key.
  5. To take your sustainability program to the next level, you will then need to calculate your baseline emissions to be able to monitor and report your yearly progress at aggregate meeting program level.

Take the first step now! Contact us so we can help you on this journey.