New road map to set sustainability standards, targets for business events organisers

The roadmap is being rolled out amid efforts to position Singapore as the Asia Pacific’s leading sustainable business event destination by 2030. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The events sector is looking to green its business by introducing strategies, standards and targets that cover areas like waste and emissions tracking, even as it recovers from the pandemic.

A Mice Sustainability Roadmap launched on Thursday lays out three specific targets for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) sector.

The plan was put together by the Mice Sustainability Committee, which was formed in August by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (Saceos).

The first target is to develop a set of sustainability standards by 2023 that Mice industry players can readily apply, with a further aim to be internationally recognised by 2024.

Another target is for all six purpose-built Mice venues here, and 80 per cent of Saceos members to obtain internationally or nationally recognised sustainability certification, or both, by 2025. Saceos has around 150 members.

The six venues are: Changi Exhibition Centre, Raffles City Convention Centre, Resorts World Convention Centre, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore Expo, and Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Third target is for the Mice industry to start tracking waste and emissions by 2023, reduce waste as aligned with the Singapore Green Plan by 2030, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with the national target.

The road map, which follows the launch of the Hotel Sustainability Roadmap earlier this year, is being rolled out amid efforts to position Singapore as Asia Pacific’s leading sustainable business event destination by 2030.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan noted that the Mice industry is recovering strongly, with a pipeline of events for 2023 and beyond. Events have also been confirmed for 2029, he said.

Prior to the pandemic, he said, the Mice industry supported more than 34,000 direct and indirect jobs with a value-add of almost $4 billion, or close to 1 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP).

But he added: “Even as we prepare for these mega events, we must act decisively to address major shifts like sustainability.”

To that end, he said event organisers can tap initiatives within STB’s Tourism Sustainability Programme such as the Business Improvement Fund, and the Training Industry Professionals in Tourism and Singapore Tourism Accelerator.

For instance, the Business Improvement Fund supports projects that help tourism companies to upgrade their business or innovate.

As of April 2022, the fund also included sustainability initiatives to help companies pivot business models to enhance competitiveness and scale up adoption, and develop sustainable solutions.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch, Dr Edward Koh, executive director for Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel at STB, said business travellers are increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint. “There’s now clearly a consumer demand where many business travellers and event organisers are asking similar questions, such as ‘What can we do to make our event sustainable?’,” added Dr Koh, who is also co-chair of the Mice Sustainability Committee.

“Now with all this demand, we need to make the business case together with our service providers.”

He said it is timely for the sector to set standards now.

“But the other issue we have with sustainability is that we need everyone to speak a common language… That’s where standards come in,” added Dr Koh.

Ms Meredith Beaujean, executive director of sustainability at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), said the industry was consulted when setting the targets.

“We see how much the Mice industry has been revived with Singapore’s reopening; it’s time to improve sustainability,” she said. “It’s not a solo effort. All stakeholders – from the venue provider, to the event organiser, to the client and the delegates – need to be working together.”

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