Events, irrespective of their size, are a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sustainability impacts. With an aim to facilitate eco-friendly events and designed to evaluate events’ sustainability performance, the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have developed an online Green Events Tool (GET). This platform was first introduced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.
The GET’s online portal was unveiled in a virtual ceremony held on 14 September 2022, marked by the presence of representatives from GORD, the UNFCCC secretariat, and UNEP. Dignitaries speaking at the event included Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of GORD, Ms. Isabella Marras, Senior Programme Officer Interagency Affairs, UNEP, and Mr. Connor Barry, Manager, Engagement sub-division, UNFCCC secretariat.
Addressing the audience attending the launch event, Alhorr said, “Last year at COP26, we together introduced this forward-looking solution to the world. As COP27 draws closer, we are proud to deliver on our promise and offer an end-to-end solution aimed at greening the events globally. Between COP26 and now, GET has undergone extensive road testing from various organizations and event organizers. The fact that the portal is ready in less than a year after initial introduction is a testament to the stakeholders’ dedication and commitment to climate action and sustainability.
“GET’s web portal has been developed through a highly process-centric and transparent approach. And while its planning and development has taken years of research and hard work, GET’s intrinsic value lies in simplifying the arduous processes needed to evaluate and improve events’ sustainability profiles.”
With the GET online portal now accessible to the public, organizations can work towards their climate mitigation targets by greening their events. The platform helps event organizers systematically evaluate the GHG emission profile and sustainability impacts of the proposed event at planning stage, to design mitigation activities, and to transparently report the actual sustainability impact and GHG emissions resulting from their events. Events supported by the GET go through a comprehensive assessment framework covering aspects related to venue construction, venue operation, flight, ground transportation, communication, audio-visual systems, production and exhibition, accommodation and catering.
Mr Barry from UNFCC said: “Born as a project to help the UN system plan and deliver more sustainable events, the Green Events Tool evolved to become an instrument available to all interested stakeholders globally. We hope that it will contribute to reducing the impact of the events we all deliver, and look forward to users’ feedback to keep improving it and expanding it.”
Ms Marras of UNEP said: “The UN system has a firm commitment to reduce its climate and environmental footprint and to align with the UNFCCC recommendations to limit Global Warming to 1.5 degrees. Events are a key part of how the UN operates and delivers on its mandates. For this reason, the GET is a vital tool to assist the UN system in meeting its commitments and reporting responsibilities. Beyond increasing environment sustainability, encouraging the use of virtual or hybrid events has the added benefits of increasing inclusiveness, accessibility and gender equality. We are excited this tool is now available for organizations in the UN system and beyond.”
The core purpose of the GET is to encourage actions to reduce the negative impacts of events, including their carbon footprint, at the planning and implementation stages. This is achieved by documenting activities that impact sustainability aspects and GHG emissions, and the calculation of GHG emissions (carbon footprint). It also allows for transparent reporting of the calculated carbon footprint and actions to address sustainability; third-party verification process (optional but encouraged) to receive a sustainability rating; and recommending the use of high-quality carbon credits to compensate for unavoidable GHG emissions.