Events industry needs sustainability focus, says MCI’s Guy Bigwood

Following the Sustainable Brands conference in Copenhagen on Wednesday (9 February), Guy Bigwood, group sustainability director at MCI spoke to C&IT about the lack of awareness in the events industry.

MCI's Guy Bigwood
MCI’s Guy Bigwood

Are event planners doing enough to communicate sustainability agendas through events?

The simple answer is no, they’re not. There are so many brands doing amazing things within sustainability, but that hasn’t been translated to meetings and events. There’s a huge missed opportunity, because people don’t understand the value of their own events to communicate, educate and inspire their staff.

What needs to change?

I think there is change coming in, but it’s happening at the bottom level. What we need is for event planners at the top to be infiltrating their organisation’s sustainability strategies throughout the company. It needs to become one of their goals to make it tangible for the organisation, and for everyone to get involved.

How can we incorporate sustainability into events?

People who work outside the sustainability department just don’t have enough of an idea of what happens and how brands can remain sustainable. We need to make it easy for people, so it becomes second nature and they do it automatically. You need to look at both the sustainability of the event itself and how you use that to drive the focus throughout the business and educate staff. We’ve done more than 700 events about sustainability and it’s a key part of who we are. Every day we challenge our own staff and our clients to go further. Coming to Denmark is fantastic, because they really understand the importance of sustainability.





At MCI, we are passionately committed to growing our business responsibly. We embrace sustainability, recognizing the many ways it generates value for both our organisation and our clients.


Our sustainability approach is based on the concept of a balanced triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit. Our mission is to use sustainability as a catalyst to drive economic, social and environmental performance for MCI and our clients. In essence, we are proactively involved in creating a sustainable planet, fair society and growing economy.

Our sustainability strategy, policies and activities have been developed in line with the ten universal principles of the UN Global Compact and our progress is disclosed using the GRI G4 Reporting Framework in an independently verified Annual Sustainability Report

Creating Value

Looking internally, our commitment to sustainability has made our organization more purpose driven, allowing us to attract and retain both talents and clients with a strong commitment to responsible business.

Now when it comes to our work, MCI’s pioneering and award winning Sustainability Consultancy helps our clients drive efficiency, accelerate innovation and enhance brand reputation. With over 600 high-profile environmental, social and governance (ESG) events managed to date and industry-wide recognition for our pioneering sustainable event management, ISO certification and sustainability reporting, we have become the world’s leading organiser of sustainable events and events about sustainability.

Read more in our dedicated sustainability website and our


Sustainability at MCI: 2015 Survey Results

Sustainability is a catalyst for transforming the way we do business and sustainability at MCI as a long-term business is contingent on the value we bring for our clients.

In our endeavour to promote sustainability and drive dialogue with our clients and supplier about the value of sustainability to them and to the society at large, a survey was conducted amongst MCI suppliers and clients.

Download the survey results for year 2015, for sustainable key insights.

Download Survey 

How to (Effectively) Implement Employee-Driven Sustainability Programmes

Successfully implementing employee-driven sustainability programmes is a challenging endeavour, especially for a global organisation with a geographically dispersed talent pool.  However, it is also one of the most effective means of inciting behavioural change and increasing productivity within an organisation and its operating communities.

After all, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, employee morale is 55% higher in companies that have strong Sustainability Programmes than those with poor ones!

It’s for this reason that MCI – the world’s leading events management and association consultancy firm – launched the MCI Sustainability Awards in 2008.

Galvanizing our talents’ passion and competitive spirits, the awards – seized this year by MCI India and MCI China – recognize employee-driven initiatives that effectively raise awareness and implement sustainability into MCI’s operations as well as that of their clients and stakeholders.

This year alone the initiatives driven by the global MCI family raised almost €1.5 million directly and indirectly, with MCI staff donating an estimated 4,500 hours to community service projects worldwide. Additionally, our “sustainability champions” have worked with our clients and suppliers to deliver top-tier sustainable events, including Engineers Australia and the World Metropolis Congress in 2014, on top of 800 other events on sustainability since 2000!

But if the returns are so high, why aren’t all major organisations using engagement strategies to inspire their employees to act as crucibles of change?

Well, the short answer is that it can be incredibly daunting. However, with years of experience in doing just that, MCI’s Sustainability Services team has found that as a first step, it’s important to ensure the following:

  1. Strong Sense of Ownership

Placing the onus of organizing initiatives on your employees can result in successful sustainability programmes because it (1) requires a more long-term commitment, increasing the continuity of the project; (2) forces staff to assess if and how they are meeting the needs of the targeted community; and (3)Bee encourages input from people closest to the problems.

Creating a small task force with representatives from different functional areas is often an effective way of creating this sense of ownership while promoting cross departmental collaboration and synergies. MCI China for instance – who received the 2014 Innovation in Sustainability Award – did just that. They have even created a logo for their team – a bee, as the word in Mandarin has the same pronunciation as “Pioneer”.

  1. Employees Must Feel Engaged

An organisation could have an incredible initiative plan, but if no one knows about it or is interested in joining, it will lose much of its impact. As such, it is crucial that organisations both communicate the benefits of their sustainability initiatives and select programs that other employees can identify with and rally behind. What more, a recent study by PwC found that 56% of recent college graduates would consider leaving a company that didn’t have sustainability values that aligned with their own.

India Blood DriveThis is an element the overall winner and recipient of the 2014 Leadership in Sustainability Award – MCI India – was incredibly successful at. Not only did MCI India organize over 25 different community projects across the subcontinent and dedicate 565 hours towards them, it was also able to engage over 2,000 people in the MCI building complex to spread awareness and dispel myths related to blood donation. As a result, enough blood was donated to save 260 lives!

  1. Recognition

Recognition can be an incredibly powerful motivator. As such, when teams produce tangible results which bring value to the targeted beneficiaries those responsible deserve to be recognized – hence the MCI Sustainability Awards! Additionally, employees should be encouraged to share their successes with their co-workers via internal communications channels as it helps weave employee involvement into the organisational culture.

At this juncture it is important to note that though employee involvement programs can be spearheaded by anyone in an organisation, it is crucial that employees receive support from the organisations’ leadership.

“Sustainability is part of our core identity, and the MCI Dream is about a desire to build a company with a culture of care and responsibility,” comments MCI CEO Sébastien Tondeur. “If we didn’t have the talent we do in our organisation, and management as supportive as it is, any sustainability initiative would be destined to crumble and fail. But thankfully, this is not the reality of MCI. Because of the dedicated individuals who make this organisation great, instead of being disheartened and cynical, I stand in front of you proud.”

Top 10 Sustainable Event Trends for 2020

By Guy Bigwood, MCI Group Sustainability Director

It’s the start of the year, and as seems to be in fashion, it’s time for us to share some thoughts about what’s coming up in the sustainable events world in the next few years. As such the following ten key sustainability trends are what we are predicting to happen in the event industry by 2020. These developments aside from improving environmental sustainability, will also improve attendee experiences, build stronger communities and generate significant cost-savings.

Between now and 2020, we predict that organisers will adopt 10 key trends to improve the sustainability performance of their events.

Aside from helping the planet, these trends will also improve attendee experiences, build stronger communities and generate significant cost-savings.

Download Article

Events as a bridge to better brands- The Evidence

We have been asked on more than one occasion (can you imagine!), does running a sustainable event have any real benefits?

Well to put it bluntly, yes.

Not only can incorporating sustainability into an event’s operation and planning promote environmental innovation and social benefits (by providing jobs, creating better working conditions and promoting creative solutions to help us use resources more efficiently), it also has the potential to increase the financial viability of the event and enhance brand reputation.

In essence, once organisations understand that a sustainable event is a bridge to better brands it will become an integral part of the marketing mix, utilized to better engage customers, employees & stakeholders.

So what’s happening in the event’s world now?Low_Res_Product_Launch

Actually quite a lot.

A small yet passionate group of folks have been trying to transform the industry – most formally gathered under the auspices of the “Green Meeting Industry Council”, if you haven’t come across them- check out

MCI Group just released our 2014 Sustainability Report: Building Possibilities, and we are incredibly proud of what we have both found and achieved supporting our clients and teams across the world.

Our report highlights that we have actually witnessed a startling transition in the procurement process of fortune 500 brands.  In 2011 only 25% of MCIs clients asked their suppliers to comply with a sustainability policy and evaluate it – a figure which rose to 51% in 2013 and an impressive 68% in 2014.

What does this mean? Brands are increasingly seeing events and their accompanying supply chain as an important component and tangible demonstration of a brands sustainability commitment – and that is a very good thing.

MCI’s Chief Executive Officer, Sébastien Tondeur, states “With the evolution of MCI, I am excited to see a developing greater purpose in our work. We are bringing people together to build communities, and these communities are building new possibilities for our planet, for its people, and local and global markets.“

To learn more about and discover the evidence, MCI’s 2014 Sustainability Report: Building Possibilities can be accessed at
The report highlights the following key achievements in 2014:

  • Clients: MCI organised 107 events about sustainability and energy issues. The company also delivered 25 sustainability consulting projects for corporate and institutional clients including Engineers Australia, Symantec, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau and Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
  • Community: MCI talents volunteered a total number of 5,409 hours, raising over €284,790 and supporting 68 charity projects around the globe.
  • Ethics: MCI’s Sustainability, HR and Finance teams developed a new MCI Ethics Programme to promote transparency, good governance and ethical business in the industry.
  • Talent: MCI’s learning and development institute delivered over 11,000 hours of training, a 3% increase over 2013.
  • Supplier Chain: 100% of MCI’s preferred global suppliers and 33% of the company’s entire supply chain are compliant

Cleaner City: Our Dream, ‘Ugly Indian Initiative’: Our Efforts

Benguluru, a city once known as city of gardens, as ‘Silicon Valley of India’, now dwells in huge pile of solid waste produced daily. With no proper waste management in place, open spaces and roadsides have become dumping zones.

MCI Bangalore with the Ugly India initiative, to spread in awareness and to contribute towards a cleaner city, kick started their weekend morning by cleaning garbage, refurbishing local area and establishing communication with local residents to be a helping hand in the initiative.

The Ugly Indian initiative works towards reviving Bengaluru from its mound of garbage and debris and bring back glory of one of the beautiful cities of India. The initiative says that we all are ugly Indians & only we can save us from ourselves.

Motto: Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh! (Stop Talking Start Doing)

Venue – 12th A Main, HAL 2nd Stage, next to National Public School Indiranagar

MCI Talents in Action 

  1. Janice Ahluwalia
  2. Rikin Herwadkar
  3. Vinayak Prabhu
  4. Suman Pillai
  5. Zara D’Souza

No of Hours Contributed – 3 Hours per talent

Funds Utilised – INR 1000

Social Responsibility Contribution

  1. 2 tractor loads of garbage & debris cleared
  2. Muck from around the trees removed.
  3. 40 feet of earth levelled to create a parking zone
  4. 100 feet of ugly wall painted.
  5. Gave a face-life to trees used as dumping zone, discouraging residents to dump again any garbage
  6. A nearby mound of construction debris that was blocking the footpath was used to fill slushy depressions in the road
  7. Shared commitment with local shop owners and residents to maintain a clean surrounding.


To make India a ‘Clean India’, locals and individuals have to come together and participate in creating a better India, for Swachh Bharat is the new Bharat

Contact us at for more information on our social contribution activities.