Sustainable Development

UFI’s Sustainable Development Mission Statement:

UFI represents and serves an industry built on connecting markets and fostering trade for the greater good – an industry built on sustainable development principles. As such, UFI is committed to driving and supporting sustainable development among our global membership and the exhibition industry at large. In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UFI has integrated sustainable development initiatives in all of our activities – from events to education, from research to advocacy. Our engagement in providing tangible solutions for sustainable development makes UFI a trusted and viable partner for governments, markets and non-profits.

UFI adopted in June 2008 specific vision and mission statements related to sustainable development:

  • “Vision: To achieve a high level of member awareness and commitment to promote social and environmental responsibility within the exhibition industry”.
  • “Mission: To serve our members by promoting, encouraging and supporting sustainability within the Exhibition Industry, thus becoming a reference point for best practice, tools, standards and learning.”

UFI’s actions in this field include:

  • A dedicated Working Group, composed of 35 organisation members of UFI, who, in 2022, produced the first edition of their annual activity report (a selection of best practices from the members of the Group regarding their work on the development of sustainability within their organisation).
  • Dedicated Forums (open to non UFI Members). no specific event currently scheduled in 2023.
  • Reports designed to assess the status of sustainability in the exhibition industry. The last one, released in July 2021 is available here. for more info, contact
  • A sustainability annual award scheme, and a report on “Best practices in Sustainability” which showcases  41 winning and shortlisted entries between 2012 and 2016
  • A follow-up of existing guidelines for system management (ISO 20121) and for reporting (GRI and UFI templates) several years ago
  • A report (produced in 2019) to highlight how the exhibition industry can contribute to the UNSDGs and another one (produced in 2020) around waste management in the Exhibitions industry
  • UFI is also happy to promote the companies whose top management make clear statements on their commitment to sustainability: see quotes below
  • Last but not least, an active role in the Net Zero Carbon Initiative ( initiated in 2021 by UFI in liaison with AIPC and ICCA and where UFI, member of the taskforce, ran the project office on behalf of JMIC for phases 1 and 2 of the project. Contact for information).

UFI is also happy to promote the companies whose top management make clear statements on their commitment in sustainability: see quotes below.

Monica Lee-Müller, Managing Director, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited (Hong-Kong), December 2016: As the professional management company serving Asia’s premier venue for exhibitions, conventions, meetings and banquets, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited. (“HML”) is committed to inspiring leadership in event sustainability management with reference to the international standard ISO 20121. We are committed to our role as responsible corporate citizenship for the protection of the environment and betterment of society, along with achieving business excellence. In observation of our organisation’s Values, covering Leadership, Integrity, Safety and Security, Technology Enhancement, Sustainable Development, Communication, Continuous Improvement, and Creativity, HML aims to improve its event sustainability management system and sustainability performance continuously.

Carin Kindbom, CEO The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre (Sweden) November 2016: The greatest threat to our planet is the illusion that somebody else will save it. By integrating sustainability as one of our five main corporate strategies, we emphasize the importance of focusing on environment, accessibility and social commitment. We steadily measure our actions and are very pleased to having achieved international top standard certifications. We have successfully implemented ISO 20121, meeting all the requirements for Event Sustainability Management, and also BREEAM, one of the world’s foremost assessment methods for buildings. And we plan to continue our sustainability efforts further.

René Kamm, CEO MCH Group (Switzerland), August 2014: “As mentioned in the MCH Group’s corporate mission statement, economic, environmental and social sustainability is an important success factor for the MCH Group and is thus of great importance in its strategic decisions. The group promotes sustainable behaviour in all areas and at all levels. We are very pleased to have been able to release our 2013 sustainability report on the basis of the internationally recognised GRI standard.”

Varathan Anbu, CEO Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (India) February 2014: “Sustainability, Competiveness and Inclusiveness have been an integral part of the BIEC journey. The design and construction of BIEC has been in line with the best practices of Sustainability, which has enabled us to become a ‘Green’ venue. Continuing with these efforts, we have embarked on the path of environmental management through the application of ISO 14001 principles effective from 2013. We have been partnering with stakeholders i.e. Clients, Service Providers and Industry for creating awareness of sustainable practices in Exhibitions in India. Our endeavor has been to have an inclusive and focused approach which can make the industry truly green”.

Eric Everard, CEO Artexis Group (Belgium), January 2014: “For several years we have given priority to responsible choices with regard to energy management, waste disposal, mobility and the well-being of our employees. Thanks to a whole series of initiatives taken by our colleagues we have significantly reduced our environmental footprint. That was CSR 1.0. In pursuit of our mission “Visit the future” we now want to initiate CSR 2.0 by making a really positive contribution to the society in which we live. We want to offer our visitors, both professionals and private individuals, a vision of the future of their lives or their industries so that when they leave our exhibitions they are stronger, more professional and better equipped. This is our shared value. It has not only changed the lives of our visitors, but also that of our employees, who are no longer selling advertising space, but are now there to help people to move forward and give them an exceptional experience. This approach has revolutionised our enterprise, our profession and, we hope, society as a whole.”

Claude Membrez, Managing Director of Palexpo (Switzerland), January 2014: “Palexpo has been on a sustainable development path for some 25 years. We switched to electricity from renewable sources in 1989 and began sorting out our waste in 1992. We get our heat from a nearby plant. A share of our energy is produced on our own roof which hosts the largest photovoltaic unit in Switzerland. Yet, there is more than this to sustainability: by also focusing on the social side of our activity, it provides a very powerful tool to thoroughly improve our overall practices. When acting to preserve the planet for future generations, the fairness of the working conditions is paramount. In a time of vanishing frontiers and unstoppable workers migration, setting clear working contractual frameworks is essential to avoid being dragged to the bottom and to drag our community with us. Ultimately, sustainability is about creating a race to the top.”

Olivier Roux, Vice-President, GL events (France), January 2014: “Five years have passed now since GL events implemented its sustainable development strategy Group-wide. The ISO 14001 certification of our French venues represents a decisive step. This achievement demonstrates a twofold commitment in terms of respecting the environment and pursuing continuing progress on a systematic basis. 21 venues are already certified. On a broader level, GL events Group has adopted a global strategy for sustainable development, spearheaded by three programmes: Think Green (environmental issues), Think Local (societal issues) and Think People (labour and employee-related issues), all contributing to daily advances, highlighted by the quantitative data published in our “Corporate Social Responsibility” report.”

Rashid Toefy, CEO, Cape Town International Convention Centre (South Africa), January 2014: “As a convention centre, whose business principles are built around the ethos of sustainability, environmental and social considerations form part of our DNA. We are committed to sustainability as a core business ethic – we acknowledge that it is not something optional, or even a value-add, it’s necessary to succeed in the future. It is imperative that we lead and innovate in meeting sustainability requirements and upping the ante in terms of effecting change in the meetings and events industry. As one of the first convention centre’s in the world to align its practices to the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards, we aim to be transparent about our sustainability, because we believe our lessons can enable and empower others to follow suit.”

David Levin, CEO of UBM plc (UK), December 2013: “Our Industry has to embrace improved ways of working to raise the level of awareness and improve the sustainability of every exhibition. This involves education, exhortation, measurement and the development of standards. As we do this we will see real enhancements – with more engagement with our clients, a positive powerful response from the people who work in the industry, enhanced reputation for the industry and, along with those, genuine positive impacts on the wider world along with lower waste and cost.”