This season, as we mentioned last week, Meridional Events will interview specialists from the world of events and tourism as guests in our blog. These professionals, leaders in their field, will give us new perspectives on current issues.
Sustainability had to be our first topic. We spoke about how to organise sustainable events a few months ago and how working with a network of sustainable suppliers can help you go the extra mile.
This week, it is a pleasure for us to have Jorge Treceño Pachón, a graduate in Environmental Sciences and a postgraduate degree in Sustainability and CSR. Jorge is also the Sponsorship Director of MPI – Meeting Professional International, at the Iberian Chapter, as well as Legacy Project Manager of the Madrid Convention Bureau.
Managing our events in a more sustainable way provides us, as companies, with benefits in terms of cost savings, achieving a differentiating and positioning element, is positive for our image and reputation as a company
With extensive knowledge in communication and marketing, specialised in energy efficiency, sustainability, environmental education, recycling, rational use of water and energy, circular economy, alternative mobility to fossil fuels and sustainable tourism, he has a very clear vision transmitting environmental knowledge to any sector of the Spanish industry, especially the tourism and travel and events sector.
Jorge has extensive international experience in different European countries, which allows him to offer an objective point of view of the current scenario and a roadmap both nationally and outside our borders in the MICE and Events industry.
Good morning, Jorge. With a career like yours, it is not surprising that you have decided to combine two of your passions, tourism, and sustainability. To what extent do you think those two activities combine? That is, beyond finding sustainable suppliers or companies with an environment-focused CSR, do you think it is possible to organise 100% sustainable events from start to finish?
Good morning, Patricia. First of all, it is a pleasure to collaborate with Meridional Events in this series of interviews with MICE and corporate tourism professionals.
Indeed, as you explain, both tourism and the environment are two of my passions and two industries which I never thought could converge and have so many aspects in common. However, both industries are completely compatible and necessary, much more with the climate alert that we are experiencing worldwide.
The turning point in my professional career (as an Environmental Engineer and with extensive experience in consulting for the implementation of environmental regulations such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001), came with the decision to emigrate to the United Kingdom, after the 2008 recession, when I started collaborating and working with different tour operators, DMCs and PCOs offering not only incentive and conference programs, but also with a new project I had after I returned to Madrid at the end of 2015: helping companies with the organisation and management of sustainable events and meetings where your carbon footprint and emissions can be offset in some way. I believe the transfer of knowledge, the hunt for suppliers and the “green” mentality gives us the possibility of organising events a bit more sustainable, but never 100% sustainable.
In Meridional Events’ day-to-day, we carry our countless routines in accordance with the principles of reduction, reuse, and recycling, while making the lowest possible energy consumption. Going a few steps further, what recommendations have you observed that have the greatest impact on sustainability?
We start from the base of the concept of “sustainability” generally associated with ecology, since it was during the decade of the ’70s when the impact of human activity on ecosystems was identified and the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment took place. Previously, in the 1960s, the concept was associated with an action or plan prepared to last over time.
I am pleased to know that, in Meridional Events, you are in the line of establishing a business commitment relating your activity to the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling, but in fact, there are other series of actions that do not involve investment for entities and that can be applied, at no cost, to minimize the negative impacts derived from business activities. And it is a must to know the economic impact in our offices and in our events, but many companies still do not have on their list of priorities knowing the environmental impact that holding a conference or congress entails and that certain indicators and methodology makes measurements much easier.
Managing our events in a more sustainable way provides us, as companies, with benefits in terms of cost savings, achieving a differentiating and positioning element, is positive for our image and reputation as a company.
Nowadays environmental regulations are diffuse and even ineffective, giving rise to phenomena such as greenwashing, a marketing strategy that misleadingly promotes the perception that the products, objectives or policies of an organisation are respectful with the environment in order to increase profits or repair public perception of the brand. What do you think are the specific environmental regulations that every company should adhere to?
As per your question, the only specific environmental regulation that every company should adhere to is common sense as a starting point. In many companies, we can find clear examples of sustainable solutions for their clients, certifications/seals that commit the company to abide by sustainability and environmentally responsible guidelines, many of them include these guidelines in their day-to-day life and in their process chain, but many others clearly want to be certified for the sake of their clients, but do not comply with the conformities that regulate both quality and environmental standards.
I do not consider that it is due to poor management of the companies, but a lack of follow-up, lack of information and not allocating the relevant budget plan to the human and technical resources to which a company adheres when including said commitment.
The carbon footprint is something we often hear about, especially related to air travel. Movements have emerged in Sweden calling for the cease of air travel. To what extent could this affect the MICE and business travel industry?
At this point, as a personal opinion, I believe that we should not be so alarmists, there is no activity, of any kind, that does not generate a minimum carbon footprint. Considering its basic concept, the carbon footprint is an environmental indicator that reflects the amount of direct or indirect greenhouse gases of an organisation, event or product, therefore if the air travel ceases, business travellers would use other means of transport for their trips such as train, ship or even cars, which also generate an emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
It should be noted that, for years, certain companies have adapted their processes to minimise this impact. Once different factors such as transport, size, distance, and footprint are known, it is possible to implement an emissions’ reduction strategy through different programs and propose what your compensation will be and based on what type of project.
Words like “ecological”, “bio” or “sustainable” are always associated with a more expensive service. Is organising a sustainable event or implementing sustainability policies more expensive?
This approach is quite common as event organisers, but when designing an event strategy, it is necessary to promote the inclusion of sustainability and ensure that all parties involved collaborate and share knowledge among themselves.
Keeping the supply chain in mind is particularly important, even when making joint decisions between all the members of the meeting.
The work involved in developing these types of projects may make costs more expensive in the first instance while searching for appropriate suppliers. However, being sustainable differentiates you from the rest, and a well-defined and participatory strategy with certain providers and stakeholders it may be easier, more efficient, and even cheaper. The key is to create synergies that make the results more favourable for all parties.
Thank you very much, Jorge. We are delighted to have had you on board this week and that you have added your two cents to raising awareness about sustainability at events.
In Meridional Events, we are fully committed with sustainability and the search of responsible suppliers that guarantee a commitment to the environment and the local community. If you are planning a corporate event, get in touch with us and see how can we help you!
Meridional Events is your DMC for all corporate and MICE events in Andalusia and Southern Spain. We are experts in organising corporate events, incentives, meetings, team building activities and golf holidays in Malaga, Seville, Marbella, Granada and the Costa del Sol.
Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
The team at Meridional Events