Friday, 4 May 2007

Skepticism....and Hope

The USEPA’s recent announcement of acquision rules to give preference to conference facilities which consume less and manage their resources in environmentally responsible ways is good news.

With this new rule my hope is buoyed that perhaps the USEPA may resurrect their Green Meetings Initiative. For those new to green meetings, the USEPA exhibited much foresight through the work of Russell Clarke to create an online resource centre for Green Meetings early in the decade. Russ was a champion for the cause and successfully convened and coordinated many of the individuals and organizations conducting great work in the field of sustainable meetings.

Russ left the USEPA a few years ago, and with him much of the drive to maintain the green meetings movement within the EPA appeared to fade. Efforts by several of the EPA’s initiative partners to update the EPA’s online resource centre have not been responded to. The emergence of new organizations such as the Green Meetings Industry Council and initiatives such as the Convention Industry Councils Green Meetings Task Force and IMEX Awards have not been integrated into the site. In truth, drilling down through the site linked on this week’s press release reveals Russ’ name as the current contact at EPA about green meetings, despite the fact he left the EPA 3 years ago.

The EPA has set an expectation of environmentally responsible practice for their meeting venues. To prepare meeting suppliers to meet this demand there is a need to re-invigorate their green meetings initiative, or at a minimum update their resource centre. Major meeting industry trade publications are clamoring for research and case studies to support green meetings. There is an increasing demand for educational resources from both meeting planners and suppliers. The EPA has and can play a role in transforming the meetings industry from brown to green by engaging not only as a consumer, but educator, researcher and policy maker.

Don’t get me wrong, the USEPA’s new rule is a critical step in catalyzing market transformation to support greener conferences. However providing suppliers with up to date information and resources to help prepare them to respond to this demand by developing environmentally credible initiatives is equally important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The past few posts show an encouraging trend and paradigm shift within the US Government towards environmental responsibility and hints at willingness to cooperate with the rest of the global community in supporting green changes. While I have not paid particularly close attention to specific policies and initiatives taken by the US regarding the environment, I do know that the current administration has been very negligent, if not outright hostile, towards a number of meaningful measures to improve or support the environment.

Certainly, many state and local governments, such as California (the April 16th, 2007, Newsweek, US edition ran an article highlighting efforts by CA to spearhead green initiatives in the US) and a number of cities pointed out by the blog author are taking matters into their own hands in an effort to fill the void created at the federal level. That is why, in my mind, the steps the US EPA is taking, even if it is a token effort, seems rather meaningful, especially in the current political environment. Also, assuming the EPA follows through on it’s “[shift] to a green culture,” we may see more rank and file government workers involved in green meetings taking some of these values home and spreading them in a more grassroots fashion. Perhaps it is a lot to hope for, but the key here is to spread awareness and promote environmental responsibility on all levels.

Keep up the good work! It helps layman, like myself, stay informed!