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MPI Provides Leading Example of CSR Practices at WEC

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) presented a slate of innovative CSR projects and innovative professional development at the World Education Congress (WEC) held recently in Orlando, Forida.

The offsite and onsite projects, in addition to the education sessions, ensured that attendees gained the experience of giving back to the greater Orlando community while learning about best practice in the industry.

MPI also outlined the new rules of engagement for meetings and events for the future. In a briefing on Sunday, July 24 CEO Bruce MacMillan indicated that the industry must design events in a manner that positively affects the economic, social and environmental impact they have.

“A large number of planners tell me they are looking for fresh and different ways to benefit the community, and most have already planted trees and done some type of restoration,” said Roger Simons, MPI Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. “What MPI has done in the recent years is work with our destination partners to programme a wide range of innovative activities and our approval rating has illustrated that this is a successful strategy with our industry.”

After serving as an advisor on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guideline for event planners, the draft supplement made a global debut at WEC, and MPI will use the guidelines to report on the meeting’s impact. Following the publication of the report, members will gain education around the disclosure framework that will guide the industry into a more responsible future.

The CSR sessions at WEC were designed to address multiple levels of proficiency, from the novice to the expert, and included three areas:

  • Basic Sustainable Meetings
  • Measurement
  • Strategy

Session attendees interacted with experts by examining case studies and studying the application of sustainability principles to meetings and events from sustainable catering right through to advanced psychology of sustainability from a consultant with a doctorate in psychosocial and environmental communication studies. Several sessions were at capacity, including more than 175 people at a session covering Coca Cola’s sustainability leadership strategy as they prepare for their leading role in the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Knowledge Hub at WEC, the center of intelligence for CSR and other MPI Thought Leadership Initiatives, served as the location where attendees networked and learned from presenters throughout the conference. MPI plans to use the Sustainable Event Measurement Tool, a deliverable from a US$500,000 investment from InterContinental Hotels Group to the CSR Thought Leadership Initiative through MPI Foundation, to measure the impact of WEC 2011 in areas of water, waste, energy, paper, food and community impact, among other indicators.

Attendees had a variety of community service events to join in Orlando. Clean the World, who served as CSR partner during WEC 2010 in Vancouver, returned this year, gathering 55 volunteers to clean and sanitize the soap products that are distributed around the world, resulting in 680 pounds of amenities being sorted and pre-cleaned. The products processed by WEC volunteers can potentially save 725 children. Heavenly Hoofs was an opportunity for attendees to assist with grooming and barn maintenance for the horses that enhance the mental, emotional and physical well-being of those with illness and disabilities.

Those who assisted the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida served by making sure information stayed current with change of address labels for mailers. The Nature Conservancy focused on an oyster restoration project in which volunteers fixed oyster shells to mats that will serve as building blocks for the Mosquito Lagoon oyster reef.  One of the most popular CSR projects at WEC, returning for its second year, the Canine Companions for Independence helped socialize future assistance dogs by giving them interaction with attendees. The OneSight eyewear drive encouraged attendees to donate prescription eyewear and non-prescription sunglasses to provide thousands with clear vision.

As the organisation has done yearly, MPI will submit a report to the United Nations (UN) in compliance with the organisation’s signatory status to the UN Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility, signed in 2007. These reports are available to the industry as examples of adherence to global standards, and can be found at the CSR portal of mpiweb.org.