Event Planning and ESG: Creating sustainable and impactful experiences

by Editorial Team
5 minutes read

Lucy S. Dlodlo

There has been a growing focus on sustainability and social responsibility across industries in recent years, and the events industry is no exception.  This article explores how event planners can incorporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices and principles into their events, creating experiences that are not only memorable but also environmentally and socially conscious.

Understanding ESG

ESG represents the three pillars of sustainability namely, Environmental, Social, and Governance. The Environmental aspect focuses on minimising the negative impact of events on the environment, such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and promoting sustainable practices.  The Social aspect considers the well-being and inclusivity of all stakeholders involved in an event. This includes attendees, employees, and local communities. Governance refers to the ethical and transparent management of an event, ensuring compliance with regulations and ethical standards.

Incorporating ESG into event planning

The areas that event planners should address when incorporating ESG in events include environmental sustainability. This includes venue selection. To be ESG-compliant in venue selection, event planners should choose venues with sustainable practices, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings or those powered by renewable energy. In the US, LEED certification ensures a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer environmental, social and governance benefits. Planners should consider proximity to public transportation to reduce carbon emissions by driving long distances between participants’ accommodation and the venue.

Another aspect to consider is waste management. In this regard, event planners are encouraged to recycle and provide clearly labelled recycling bins throughout the event space. They should minimise single-use items and opt for reusable or compostable alternatives. Energy conservation is a key component of environmental sustainability in event planning. Planners should strive to utilise energy-efficient lighting and equipment to be compliant. Event professionals should encourage attendees to conserve energy by turning off lights and electronics when not in use.

The second aspect of ESG in event planning is social responsibility and one of its components is inclusivity and diversity. Planners should promote diversity in speaker selection, panel discussions, and entertainment to ensure a broad range of perspectives. They should provide accessibility options for attendees with disabilities. Another area that planners should address when incorporating social responsibility in events is community engagement. One way of achieving this is partnering with local organisations and suppliers to support the local economy. They are urged to incorporate community service activities into events by volunteering or fundraising for a charitable cause, for example.

The other social responsibility component of ESG in event planning is health and well-being. Event planners need to offer healthy and sustainable food options, accommodating dietary restrictions and preferences. Providing wellness activities such as yoga sessions or meditation breaks to promote well-being during the event contributes towards an ESG-compliant event.

The G in ESG refers to governance and ethics. To address this aspect when planning events, event professionals should consider ethical sourcing. This includes ensuring that all suppliers and vendors align with ethical standards such as fair trade practices and responsible sourcing.  Event planners need to consider the environmental and social impact of products and services they use during the event.

Privacy and data protection are very important in ensuring good governance practices in eventing. In this regard, planers should safeguard attendee data and comply with data protection regulations. They need to obtain consent for data collection and usage and ensure transparency in data handling. Transparency and accountability is the other aspect of governance and ethics in the events sector.  Event players should communicate event goals and ESG initiatives to attendees, sponsors, and stakeholders. They need to regularly measure and report on the event’s environmental and social impact, demonstrating accountability.

Benefits of ESG-focused event planning

ESG-focused events enhance brand reputation. Demonstrating commitment to sustainability and social responsibility can enhance an event brand’s reputation and attract like-minded attendees and sponsors. Incorporating ESG practices also improves cost savings. Implementing sustainable practices can lead to cost savings in areas such as energy consumption and waste management.

By incorporating ESG principles into event planning, event professionals contribute to a more sustainable future and create a positive impact on the environment and society.


In conclusion,  event planning and ESG go hand in hand, allowing players on the events industry to create experiences that not only leave a lasting impression but also contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world. By incorporating environmental, social, and governance practices into events, planners can lead by example and inspire others to adopt similar approaches.

Event planners and other stakeholders should embrace the power of event planning to drive positive change and create impactful experiences for the industry and society at large.

Lucy S.Dlodlo is an event planning and sustainability professional. She can be contacted on 0772 890 879 and at lsdlodlo@gmail.com.

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