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How is Canalys addressing the sustainability of its events?

How is Canalys addressing the sustainability of its events?

The global events industry produces a shocking 10% or more of global CO2 emissions, only 31% of professional public speakers are women, and white professionals make up 82% of the events industry: Elsa Nightingale (Canalys Principal ESG Analyst) and Shannon McMullan (Canalys Senior Event Executive) explore what Canalys is doing to promote environmental, social and governance (ESG) at the Canalys Forums.



What is Canalys’ goal for ESG at the Forums? 

Under Informa's Faster Forward ESG Strategy, our parent company, "Canalys will become a zero waste and net zero carbon business by 2030".

This underlines a desire to go beyond dialogue – and focus on tangible, actionable change.

Travel remains the most carbon-intensive aspect of in-person events. Indeed, the aviation sector produces 2.5% of global emissions annually. Despite this, the benefits of in-person interaction, evidenced by over 3,400 meetings at Canalys Forums in 2023, are significant. These gatherings not only facilitate valuable networking – they also reduce the need for multiple trips by consolidating interactions in one location.

Optimizing route planning:

  • Attendees can use RouteZero to identify the best public transportation options available, particularly in Berlin, where the rail options are most robust. This tool will plan your journey and show you the emissions saved as a result.

Encouraging efficient flying:

  • We are maximizing the availability of overflow hotels within walking distance of our event venues – to minimize associated travel emissions.

Offsetting carbon emissions:

  • While offsetting has its challenges, it remains a crucial part of our strategy.
  • Informa, our parent company, will offset all Canalys' employee travel to events – funding essential sustainability projects. Although offsetting does not eliminate the emissions overall, it can help compensate for them.
  • Working alongside Climate Impact Partners, we will procure offsets that contribute to tree planting, energy efficiency, renewable electricity generation, and land restoration projects globally.

We are also expanding event accessibility via Canalys' virtual platform – allowing attendees to join the Forums virtually – further reducing travel-related emissions. This option caters to those unable to travel due to logistical or health reasons and provides an option for those who do not want to travel physically to the events.

By integrating these practices, Canalys is not only addressing the emissions associated with travel, but also highlighting activities other event organizers can engage in.

A meeting in full swing during last year's Canalys EMEA Forum.

Electricity and water consumption at Canalys Forums

Electricity consumption is a significant source of emissions at any large-scale event. In partnership with Informa, Canalys is also procuring verifiable renewable electricity certificates to cover all electricity consumed at the three events. This ensures events run on renewable electricity, via these certificates, reducing electricity-related emissions.

Water is an essential, but often overlooked resource, in event management and IT overall. 

Indirect water usage:

  • The primary challenge often lies in indirect water consumption through the use of various technological platforms necessary for event operations. These include online file storage and the use of artificial intelligence to streamline event organization, which can require substantial data center resources. These data centers consume large amounts of water, primarily for cooling purposes.

Industry-wide challenge:

  • Recognizing this issue extends beyond our own operations, we are taking steps to bring this topic to the forefront.
  • Awareness and advocacy: Canalys will use its platform to highlight and discuss these challenges on the main stage at our events. By doing so, we aim to increase awareness and drive industry-wide changes towards more sustainable water usage practices.

Through these efforts, Canalys not only acknowledges the environmental challenges associated with hosting major events, but also takes a leadership role in promoting sustainability within the tech and events industries. We are dedicated to continuous improvement and are committed to implementing effective solutions that conserve resources and minimize our ecological footprint.

Minimizing waste

Waste reduction is essential for sustainable event management. Canalys is dedicated to significantly reducing waste with several key strategies:

Sustainable event stands and decorations:

  • Reusable and recyclable materials: We've discontinued disposable event stands, opting instead for reusable and modular designs that can be repurposed across various events.
  • Decorative choices:  Our focus has shifted towards decorations that can be reused, such as real plants that are either replanted or donated post-event. Less sustainable items, when unavoidable, are given to local community groups to extend their use.
  • Plastic reduction: By eliminating plastic bottles, we promote the use of refillable water stations and glass bottles. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own refillable bottles.

Food waste management:

  • Collaboration with chefs: Food waste is complex, often exacerbated by local health regulations that restrict food donation. Canalys collaborates with renowned chefs to source food locally and plan meal portions efficiently, minimizing waste.
  • Sustainable packaging: Where food donation is restricted, leftover food is packaged in eco-friendly containers such as cardboard takeaway boxes for attendees to consume during/after the event.
  • Recycling and disposal: We coordinate with hotels to ensure responsible recycling or disposal of leftover food.

Hotel contributions to sustainability:

  • Energy-efficient buildings: Our events are hosted in modern, premium hotels which are generally more energy-efficient than older structures. This choice is part of our broader strategy to reduce the overall carbon footprint of our events.
  • Certifications and standards: Our Berlin event for example takes place in the Green Key Certified Ritz-Carlton Berlin, which adheres to high environmental standards.

Through these initiatives, Canalys not only addresses the direct impact of its activities – but also sets a precedent for the events industry. Our waste management practices serve as a model for partners and vendors, encouraging them to adopt similar sustainable practices.

The Ritz-Carlton in Berlin, the site of Canalys' EMEA Forum this year was awarded the Green Key certification for the promotion of holistic sustainability. 

Enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion

Canalys is deeply committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across all aspects of our Forums, ensuring every participant, regardless of their physical abilities or other needs, has full access to the events. This commitment manifests in several practical measures:

Accessibility and language inclusion:

  • Our venues meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, featuring accessible rooms and on-stage ramps where the need arises. 
  • We address linguistic diversity by providing dual-language signage and translations for languages such as Japanese: The Canapii app offers live translations for remote participants.

Inclusive event setup:

  • We provide quiet spaces for attendees needing a break from event stimuli, facilitate self-identification on name badges, and ensure all facilities, including bathrooms, are gender-neutral wherever possible to cater to all identities. Specialized spaces such as lactation rooms and prayer rooms are also being explored.

Addressing industry representation challenges:

A major challenge in enhancing DEI is the tech industry's existing demographics, especially in leadership roles, which often reflect in the diversity of our event participants and speakers. While we actively seek to diversify our speaker lineup, our choices are influenced by the prevailing diversity within our partners’ leadership teams. Despite this, we continue to respond to requests from vendors and channel partners for more diverse selections, striving to broaden representation across our events.

  • Canalys actively addresses the prevalence of all-male panels by requiring gender diversity in panels with more than three speakers. 
  • Our commitment extends beyond avoiding tokenism; we strive for genuine inclusivity to enrich discussions and offer diverse insights.

Ultimately, our aim is to transform Canalys Forums into platforms for meaningful exchange and learning, celebrating the diversity of every individual involved.

In conclusion, much more can and will be done in the coming years. As Canalys continues to accelerate its own ESG efforts, we are proud to be working to advance ESG at our events and bring ESG to the forefront of our stages.


Get in touch with your thoughts or feedback for Canalys on the ESG of our events.

The Canalys Forums are open for registration to channel partners now.

EMEA: 8 – 10 October | NORTH AMERICA: 22 – 24 October | APAC: 3 – 5 December 2024

For more information on vendor sponsorship and distributor partnership opportunities, please contact us here.

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