Hundreds of Professional Speakers sign event sustainability pledge in Asia

A couple of weeks ago, the UN released a report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The warning is stark.

The ecosystems on which all life on planet earth depends – including human life – is deteriorating at an unprecedented pace. If it continues, IPBES chair Robert Watson said: “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

A million species of plants and animals are threatened by extinction. Three-quarters of the planet’s land and about two-thirds of the oceans have been significantly altered. It’s now likely there will be grave consequences for people around the world.

I mean plastic has been found at the deepest depths of the oceans, following an extraordinary expedition, led by Victor Vescovo. They descended nearly 11km to the deepest place in the ocean – the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench. Read that story, it’s amazing.

And then we had UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, say: the World is ‘not on track’ to meet the Paris climate accord objectives and that “the political will to fight climate change seems to be fading at the same time as things are getting worse for those feeling the effects.”

If you are paying attention to this crisis, despair is mounting. Climate anxiety is a real thing, and while I’ve sunk into that anxiety a few times this year, I continue to come out fighting. For me, it’s the only story that matters right now. If we don’t act…

Read the reports, I mean it, you NEED to read the reports.

I am honestly amazed at how many people are not giving this even the smallest amount of attention. We can not ignore this. There is no time!

Taking action, wherever we can

So, what can we do? We must impact every person in our lives by sharing knowledge to educate them, and then we must inspire them to act, because we all need to change behaviours.

If we can’t rely on the politicians to do what is needed – which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly conducive to re-election, right? Based on the old political paradigm I don’t think it is. But I think we’re entering a new paradigm, and I am hoping the forthcoming Australian election reflects this change. It will be a vote for climate action… or it won’t. Based on Australia’s intense last 12 months from a climate perspective, I feel hopeful Aussies will vote for Mother Earth.

However, I also believe our democracies have become fundamentally corrupted by big business interests (aka the donors) who are getting priority above all else. As Tim Winton says in this article: Our leaders are ignoring global warming to the point of criminal negligence. It’s unforgivable.

So, we have no choice but to increase the pressure from we the people to make it impossible for the politicians, media, business – and anyone else profiting from business as usual – to ignore.

Our voice is powerful. We are powerful. Believe it and let’s create a better world. It will be a painful change, but it will be worth it out the other side.

What did we do?

Last year at the Asia Professional Speakers Convention 2018, current President of APSS, Fredrik Haren, made a pledge for equality and diversity on the stage. It was brilliant, and I wrote about it last year, because this is the sort of action we must take to create the change that is needed. We all believe that when you get people focused on equality and diversity, they work harder to deliver it.

And at the Asia Professional Speakers Convention 2019 we focussed on sustainability. Not only was it a case of no plastic bottles, straws, coffee pods, balloons, unsustainable glitter, etc… we had limited printed items and focused on getting the message out through the digital tools available. We also didn’t print the staging. We projected it. It looked great too!

Andrea T Edwards

Next year I’d love to see zero paper and a vegetarian menu, but we might have had a rebellion if we offered no meat 😊. Slowly but surely, change happens. Regardless, we made a start, people started thinking about the issue more, and we all committed to doing more, and we will. The response has been very heartening.

The other exciting project was getting the 270+ speakers in the room to sign the Speakers Sustainability Pledge. Here it is in all it’s glory.

sustainability pledge

Illustrated by the incredible Tim Hamons of Art of Awakening, and supported by Stephanie Dickson, founder of Green is the New Black, Asia’s Largest Consciousness Festival, and the Wedge Asia. Check out the incredible work both are doing!!!!

We are now sharing this commitment across the Global Speakers Federation community worldwide, with commitments flowing in from India, Australia, Namibia, Sweden and more already.

And we are asking everyone to share it with connections in the events industry (or any industry), hotel and event venues, and to anyone they know that can make a difference. We must reduce the extraordinary amount of waste that comes out of the millions of events happening around the world, EVERY SINGLE DAY!

In fact, here’s a blank version of the pledge. Add your logo, print it out as a poster, get it signed, hang it in the middle of your office, and let’s get more people thinking and acting to reverse the threat all of humanity is facing! Let’s clean up our world. Let’s stop trashing it.

Speakers Sustainability pledge

So, can you reduce the impact in your business?

If you can, please join us!!! And make sure you work with partners committed to sustainability too. If you are someone contracting with professional speakers and the event industry, how about you commit to partnering with those committed to sustainability?

As part of the Speakers Sustainability Pledge, we are asking all speakers to add to their speaker contracts the below information. It’s a simple cut and paste job, and hopefully it will get more people thinking and acting to reverse climate change and the biodiversity loss that will result in the 6th Mass Extinction.

Speak Sustainability: my pledge for future events

Bye bye plastic – no single-use plastic – bottles, cups, lids, coffee pods, plates, cutlery, balloons, unsustainable glitter

BYO – encourage guests to bring their own reusables – i.e. water bottles, bags

No unsustainable goodie bags, including both the actual bag and unsustainable giveaways

Save the trees – go digital, any necessary printing should be on recycled AND/OR on FSC certified paper

Don’t be trashy – reduce waste AND choose materials which can be reused or recycled

Skip that burger – don’t serve meat AND/OR ensure more vegetarian options

Lighten the load – offset the carbon footprint for the event

Donate – a portion of ticket sales/speaking fees to a climate action NGO

Let’s work together and make a deep commitment to Mother Earth. It all counts.

#SpeakerPledge #ClimateChange #MotherEarth #LittleGreenSteps

I really want to thank everyone for the brilliant support in signing and agreeing to act on the Speakers Sustainability Pledge, and I want to acknowledge my co-conspirators in coming together to drive this, to create a powerful legacy, and hopefully, to collectively make a difference following our incredible Convention.

Those people include our Convention leader Cathy Johnson, and the team Kevin Cottam, Kat van Zutphen, Guan Hin Tay, Louisa Lee, Amit Prakash, Vivek Kumar and Ritu G Mehrish. Thank you guys.

Please share with your community. Share with speakers around the world. Share with people in the events and venue business. Create a pledge for your own industry and share that. Let’s lead the change and create massive impact! We can do this! We really can.

Thanks so much for reading and more importantly, supporting. If you believe in what we’ve created here, share it and let’s watch the ripples of change grow around the world. To a glorious emission-free, plastic-free world! Our kids will either thank us or hate us. We decide which one it will be.

What can you do to make an impact? What action are you taking?



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