A helping Hannuwa

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A helping Hannuwa

Look to nature for regenerative event management, says Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, who highlights here some of the findings from the Regenerative Revolution report, co-created by IMEX.


We partnered with Guy Bigwood, managing director, Global Destination Sustainability Movement, to create the Regenerative Revolution report in order to encourage a frank and fearless conversation about sustainability and the role of the global meetings and events community in bringing about change. We didn’t want the report to be a showcase of our existing sustainability credentials, but a broader guide for the entire industry to provide direction on what we can collectively achieve.

The report, sponsored by Marriott International, details a set of guiding principles called ‘Hannuwa’, an ancient San word from South Africa that means the gathering of good fortune through living in harmony with our natural environment. Hannuwa comprises four key principles and an eight-step methodology which serves to educate and guide event organisers to move beyond sustainability to a more regenerative, circular event management. 

This methodology isn’t yet fully integrated into our business – but we have plans in place to ensure it will be. Having researched and learned about Hannuwa, these principles are now a firm goal for our organisation, and we’re busy looking at how the measures can be incorporated into our activity throughout the year including our live shows.

Put simply – our ultimate goal is to have a circular, regenerative tradeshow. We’ve already taken some key steps on our journey towards this: both of our shows, IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America, are now fully powered by renewable energy. IMEX in Frankfurt is an entirely zero waste event and at IMEX America, only 6% of waste goes to landfill. IMEX America has been ranked as one of the most sustainable shows in North America, achieving an APEX/ASTM level 1 score of 93% in 2018. 

Sustainability has long been a core value of the IMEX Group, since the launch of the first IMEX in Frankfurt in 2003 and we began by taking small steps – using recycled and recyclable materials such as carpet and signage, offering regionally sourced food and reducing red meat, for example. 

Our journey has evolved over time – and that’s in no small part due to our work with our partners and stakeholders – we’ve asked our suppliers and our venues to help us provide environmentally friendly solutions and, in many cases, these ‘green’ options then become standard practice for suppliers who can offer them to other clients. We actively involve our exhibitors – our sustainable exhibiting guide details measures they can take before, during and after their time at our shows – and we also share our learnings with attendees through bespoke education.

Good practice doesn’t begin and end with our shows however, we ensure it is built into our organisation through a dedicated ‘green squad’ – a passionate group of employees across all departments who ‘see the world through green eyes’. It’s this group of individuals who are helping us to further evolve our activities – moving from sustainable to regenerative events by incorporating the guiding Hannuwa principles in the months and years ahead. Creating an entirely circular, regenerative tradeshow is our ultimate aim and we intend to achieve this through collaboration and determination. You don’t need to be big or have a big budget to achieve stronger sustainability, but you do need persistence and commitment. My hope is that event professionals will join us as we start 2021 in building a more regenerative, resilient events industry. 

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