As the African population rapidly increases, expected to nearly double from 1.3 to 2.5 billion by 2050, the demand for secure jobs and a sustainable future will increase in tandem. According to the United Nations, as laid out in their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainability is key to the growth of Africa2 with the SDGs closely aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063 – the continent’s own plan to transform the region. 

In recognition of Earth Day, and the importance of advocating for sustainable measures across sectors considering the anticipated growth for the African continent, the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) proudly announces its partnership with the Event Greening Forum (EGF), a leading advocate for sustainable event management.  

“As a collaborative platform representing exhibition organisers across Africa, AAXO is committed to promoting industry growth and development, and this strategic collaboration aims to foster sustainability measures and education within the exhibition sector across Africa,” says Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of AAXO. 

The EGF is a registered non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting sustainable event management, emphasising the triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity. “Celebrating Earth Day today is a poignant reminder of our responsibility to foster sustainability in every facet of our lives. The partnership between the Event Greening Forum and AAXO marks a new era of collaboration and commitment to greening the event industry. With the exhibition and events industry being a large contributor to landfill waste worldwide, our joint mission gains even greater urgency,” says John Arvanitakis, Chairperson of the Event Greening Forum. 

The partnership with EGF underscores AAXO’s dedication to fostering sustainable practices within the exhibition sector, and the collaboration will not only enhance environmental stewardship but also contribute to the overall success and resilience of the industry with the key objectives of the partnership being: 

  • Promoting sustainable event organising: Both parties acknowledge the importance of upholding the highest standards of sustainable event organising in South Africa and Continental Africa and will continue to drive education and awareness about sustainability in the events’ sector; 
  • Donation drive: A collaborative donation drive during the annual Global Exhibitions Day (GED) celebrations will facilitate the reuse of materials such as lanyards and banners, reducing waste and promoting sustainability;  
  • Knowledge exchange: EGF will participate in sessions at the AAXO Leadership Conference to share insights and best practices in sustainable event management; 
  • Training sessions: AAXO and EGF will collaborate on conducting training sessions throughout the year to keep members and interested parties informed about sustainable initiatives, both in-person and online. 

Additionally, EGF has made Net Zero Carbon Events a major focus, recognising the urgent need to accelerate actions in response to the threat of climate change and look forward to engaging with AAXO and its members as part of a global collaboration for action. Launched in November 2021 at COP26 in Scotland, Net Zero Carbon Events aims to connect the events industry globally to the rapidly growing movement towards achieving net zero by 2050, with the initiative focused on developing common methodologies for measuring the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, construction of an industry-wide roadmap towards net zero, fostering collaboration with suppliers and customers to ensure alignment and common approaches, and the establishment of common mechanisms for reporting progress and sharing best practice.  

“Working alongside AAXO, we are dedicated to leading the charge towards Net Zero Carbon Events. By equipping the industry with knowledge, resources, and a collaborative platform, we empower industry professionals to make meaningful strides towards a more sustainable future. We look forward to working with the events industry on this journey of transformation where events become beacons of environmental responsibility,” adds Arvanitakis. 

EGF provides assistance to event professionals at every stage of their event sustainability journey, whether they are just starting and feeling overwhelmed or they have become recognised leaders in sustainable event management. Through this partnership, AAXO members will receive guidance, resources, and support from EGF, helping them to effectively navigate the process of organising sustainable events and contributing to the global movement towards achieving net zero carbon emissions. 

“We are confident that our collaboration with EGF will elevate the significance of sustainability through education and awareness, demonstrating to the entire African events and exhibition industry how to integrate sustainable practices seamlessly into daily operations, thereby mitigating environmental harm,” concludes Paulsen-Abbott.