Last week marked a pivotal moment as the Cambridge events community came together for ‘Shaping Sustainable Events’. Hosted at the contemporary West Court at Jesus College, over 100 attendees, including representatives from Cambridge venues, VisitBritain and trade press came together to hear from two expert speakers and a panel of event professionals. Two of the industries hot topics were discussed: How to create events that are both environmentally and socially sustainable. Areas covered included:​

  • Leaving a Brainprint in addition to a Handprint

  • The intentional or unintentional messages event organisers want their event to send into the world. This includes what is the purpose and nature of an event in addition to how it affects the actions, beliefs, and views of others.

  • Choosing a vegan/vegetarian menu and offering an opt-in for those that might want to eat meat.

  • Offering discounts to those arriving by sustainable travel methods.

  • Consideration of differing behaviours and how they influence a person’s decision-making process:

    • Group: I will if you will

    • Norms: I will if it’s how everyone normally does it

    • Infrastructure: I will if I can / it is easy

    • Values based: I will if it matters to me

  • Understanding the diversity and the needs of your audience and the community you want to attract to your event will help you plan your event so that no one feels excluded.

  • Acknowledging intersectionality - Instead of considering a single EDI factor for example, women in STEM, consider that some people may have multiple layers of diversity that need to be taken into account, for example black women in STEM who have an invisible disability.

  • Use of captions for live presentations and on Zoom calls and offering the opportunity to share recordings after the event or meeting.

  • Offering sign language and interpretation at Conferences.

  • AccessAble
    Many of the Cambridge Colleges have signed up for AccessAble, a website that offers detailed accessible information for disabled people, carers, wheelchair users on how to navigate their premises. It includes information on entrances, parking, toilets, and other facilities enabling individuals to plan their visits more effectively.

As part of the registration, we asked people where they were on their sustainable journey. We will be checking back in with them to see how things are going. Keep an eye out for further communications from us as we track progress, share tips and case studies.

At Shaping Sustainable Events, we launched a new positive impact campaign, Meet Up and Make a Difference. As with many cities in the UK, Cambridge is not immune to food poverty. In the city itself, there are many people in crisis and charities are reporting a greater demand than ever before for their services. Meet Up and Make a Difference is calling on the events community: clients, venues and suppliers to raise funds and supplies for those in need in our city through future events by taking one or more actions:

  • Pass on the Pastries and donate the costs.
  • Host a Foodbank Collection
  • Add a hypothetical Fourth Course to dining menus?
  • Make a financial donation?

Looking ahead, we extended an invitation to the events community to tell us what topics are most important to them so that we can shape future events accordingly.

As a follow on from the event, we have shared a comprehensive sustainability toolkit with attendees which includes a range of resources to help organisers create events that are both environmentally and socially sustainable, this includes links to examples of best practice and the slide decks from both of our expert speakers.


Speakers' Slides

Copies of our speakers’ full slide decks can be found below:

Keep an eye on our YouTube channel here where we will be uploading recordings of our speakers.


For more tips, resources and guides on hosting sustainable events, check out out Sustainable Events Toolkit here.