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What IMEX Can Teach Us About Sustainable Event Planning


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IMEX, the Worldwide Exhibition for Incentive Travel, Meetings and Events, held last month in Las Vegas had a major focus on sustainable events and green event planning.  

Going green is a win-win-win that can begin with even those small decisions that come with planning and attending an event. Before the event even kicked off, the organizers behind IMEX suggested that attendees bring reusable drinkware and choose food that generates less waste and use less water. 

Guests were encouraged to visit the program’s Giving Back Booth to build a hygiene kit for Clean the World and/or reduce our environmental impact through support of local, community projects. IMEX created a guide for exhibiting sustainably, held sustainability themed sessions and made a huge announcement regarding global, sustainable development goals. 


IMEX Sustainable Exhibiting Guide

The organization not only leads by example but also strives to inspire action, particularly in green event planning. Their step-by-step guide walks exhibitors through making a sustainability pledge, pre-show planning, responsible travel and participation during the IMEX event. We strongly encourage you to take a deeper dive into the guide as it’s a wonderful resource for exhibiting and sustainable event planning in general. 


Sustainability-themed sessions

During the event, Nalan Emre, COO at IMEX, led guests on a “Sustainability Safari.” One of many educational sessions at the show, the safari covered everything from recycling initiatives to climate-friendly highlights, best practice case studies and charitable initiatives. Emre also let attendees in on how such a large scale event (12,000+ participants) achieved a 93% waste diversion rate! Plus, the safari was part of the events “walking challenge,” so guests go plenty of steps in.  

Sustainable Events

The event also hosted the Greening the Events Industry: Sustainability Superheroes Assemble! The idea lived up to its name, featuring a panel of industry-leading professionals discussing how to work together on new initiatives to minimize waste and our environmental impact, and how doing so will create and even better event experience. 

These are just a couple of IMEX’s fantastic examples of how to incorporate sustainability into your event on multiple levels. The sessions were engaging and attendees’ walked away with a better understanding of how to make an event sustainable. 

Launch of the Sustainability Resource Hub

Perhaps the biggest takeaway of all was the announcement of the EIC (Events Industry Council) Centre for Sustainable Events. The virtual hub aims to build a community of sustainable event planners and will offer the education and resources to further develop industry-wide practices in support of our planet and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Sustainable EventsIMEX’s annual talking point, an idea that allows participants to explore a single emerging or important trend is already planned for both 2020 and 2021! 

“It’s a big, timely, important topic,” says IMEX Chairman, Ray Bloom. “One we can all relate to and one that warrants our full attention; that Talking Point will be ‘Nature.’ We’ll be exploring what nature can do for us, and what we can do for nature and we’ll be running this theme over two years to give it the traction it deserves.” 

IMEX will continue to engage and inspire us on the sustainability front and we can grow our community of green planners by taking advantage of the resources mentioned above and by following their lead. 

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