SP0143: EMBA Sustainability Module 2015

Status: COMPLETED Summer 2015 - November 2015

Following the achievement of a BNQ level 3 classification for the Sustainability Challenge module in 2014, the EMBA program is aiming to achieve a level 4 classification for the module in 2015. Armed with last year’s experience, this year the focus will be on incorporating social sustainability into the program.


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Published in June 2010, the Standard BNQ 9700-253 is the answer to an industry need to establish acknowledged technical regulations regarding compliance with the principles of sustainable development in responsible event management. The BNQ standard on responsible event management also gives event organizers, service suppliers, participants and users an opportunity to collaborate and to create events with limited environmental footprint and increased economic and social benefits for communities. The requirements of the BNQ standard on responsible event management rely on two fundamental principles: firm, concrete, and manifested commitment by event organizers, and their customers to increased awareness among organizations, participants and users; and their commitment to holding events with positive repercussions. The BNQ standard defines the criteria event organizers must meet for responsible event management, while taking into account the specific characteristics of each and every event, along with the needs, preferences and aptitudes of customers and participants. The BNQ standard serves as a reference framework for a voluntary classification program. It allows independent third parties to assess the conformity of an event organizer’s event management practices in a non-partisan fashion. The standard makes it possible, through a structured scoring system, to establish in a coherent fashion the classification level that an event Level 4 Eco-Friendly Event Classification for the EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal’s Sustainability Challenge Module (Standard BNQ 9700-253 Classification program) can achieve.

After successfully attaining a level 3 classification for the Sustainability Challenge module in 2014, the EMBA program wants to improve further by aiming for a level 4 classification this year. Armed with experience, renewed enthusiasm and a list of improvements, the program is motivated to better last year’s achievement. This year, the focus will be on incorporating social sustainability into the program. At the end of the module last year, the project group was encouraged by their classification coordinator to apply for Les Vivats an award given in recognition to sustainable event organisers. For 2015, the EMBA sustainability module is in the people’s choice category and will be spreading the story through social media and the McGill and HEC universities in order to encourage people to vote for the project. This is a great way to highlight all the hard work that has been done and also make it visible to any other McGill group that is looking for support in planning in their own sustainable event. The application for les Vivats will also help bring visibility to McGill University and highlight the event’s dedication to the issue of sustainability.

The outcomes of this classification program will encourage the EMBA program to be even more sustainable and to continue to find innovative ways of conducting eco-friendly modules and events. It will also help to develop the knowhow to maintain these best practices in the long-run. As after completing the level 3 classification, the group is ready to help other McGill event planners improve the sustainability of their events. This year they plan to especially highlight the use of socially sustainable caterers and allow the program participants, and other McGill groups, to see and participate in a different side of for-profit business, ones with socially responsible policies.

Maintaining the best practices established during last year’s Sustainability Challenge module, and improving upon them, is at the core of the planning for this year’s module. As well, it gives an opportunity to reiterate the use of sustainable practices with the other units we work with in Desautels, as well as bring visibility of these practices the larger McGill Desautels community.

For this year’s module, resources from the SPF will be used to pay for: costs associated with the BNQ classification program; the CQEER consultant on site; carbon offsets and caterers that are engaged in limiting their ecological footprint, motivated to give back to their communities and privilege locally sourced and grown produce.
The classification process is a great experience for the program participants and having them actively participate to achieve level 3 (last year) or level 4 (goal for this year) adds to their understanding of issues of sustainability. Rather than simply following the best practices, participating in the classification experience gives them a stake in the outcome and firsthand experience of the requirements (the sorting of the trash, composting, using environmentally friendly transportation).

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tammy.cree [at] mcgill.ca (Tammy Cree)

See also: EMBA Sustainability Module 2014 (SP0124))
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