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How to achieve sustainability targets post COP26

Clearly defined KPIs and responsibility at a senior level are essential to achieving sustainability targets, says Iain Dix, director of property & projects and responsible for sustainability strategy at etc.venues.

The need to generate results to fulfil pledges and demonstrate real commitment is increasing further in the wake of COP26. Greenwashing is starting to resonate and financial institutions are talking about taking CSR activity into consideration within investment policies.

So how should, or can, organisations structure the management of their sustainability efforts to achieve results effectively, efficiently and consistently?

Many might answer that the ideal solution is to put someone senior and experienced in a dedicated role, but that is only likely to be viable and worthwhile in major organisations.

More realistically for most SMEs in the business events, meetings and training sectors, the options are primarily a choice between creating a team with representatives from across the business or to add the responsibility and KPIs to a director or senior manager whose existing role is closely relevant.

Both approaches can be highly effective, with the enthusiasm and interest of volunteers driving engagement. But there is a danger that their work on their day-to-day roles might sometimes have to take precedence over implementing sustainability action

We signed up to the SME Climate Hub and in doing so pledged to halve our carbon emissions by 2030, achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and to report regularly on progress towards these aims.

I embraced this challenge in my existing role and I am closely involved in decisions about managing energy usage, recycling and waste which are vital to reaching etc.venues’ sustainability goals.

Getting access to detailed measurable information to benchmark existing performance on all criteria is crucial as a starting point to identify the scale of improvement needed to achieve the targets.