WEFTEC Earns Gold Sustainability Certification

WEFTEC has proudly earned the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainable Event Standards Gold Certification, marking a significant achievement in sustainable event management.

EIC Gold Certification.pngThis certification uses eight standards to assess events and event suppliers on a wide range of criteria in support of environmental and social responsibility.

This accolade is not just a badge of honor but a reflection of commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. This journey to sustainability has been notable, with WEFTEC 2023 setting new benchmarks. Earning a Gold Certification in the first active year of the process is a remarkable achievement.

Achieving these milestones was a collective effort. Every participant, exhibitor, and partner played a role in making WEFTEC 2023 sustainable and inclusive.

By The Numbers

  • Renewable Energy. 100 renew energy.pngWe powered WEFTEC with 100% renewable energy, leading the way in sustainable energy use.
  • Waste Diversion. 45 reduction in waste.pngAchieving a 45% event waste diversion rate was a milestone, as we continue to strive towards a zero-waste event. WEFTEC generated 69.95 tons of waste, compared to 76.26 tons which would be expected of a show this size.
  • Offset Travel Emissions. Travel to and from events like WEFTEC creates a significant environmental effect, particularly the unavoidable flight-related carbon emissions. For WEFTEC 2023 these emissions totaled 7,972 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). To help mitigate this effect, WEF offered registrants the option to donate toward the purchase of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) from the United Nations Carbon Offset platform to offset their travel emissions. Between WEF contributions and your participation, we purchased 2,370 MTCO2e in offset credits — enough to offset 30% of travel-related emissions.
  • Sustainable Procurement. Sustainable procurement involves carefully examining each item brought into the event. We ensured that 78% of our food was sourced from within 250 mi of the event site, supporting local economies, and reducing carbon footprints. WEF also acquired minimal promotional materials and selected them with careful consideration of the origin and manufacturing practices associated with each item.
  • Community and DEI. Diversity and inclusion were more than just buzzwords at WEFTEC 2023. With 32% BIPOC speakers and 26% female speakers, we fostered an environment that truly represented our diverse community.

An Inclusive Effort

This commitment to DEI was evident not just in our speaker lineup but in the intentional spaces created for underrepresented professionals, ensuring everyone’s voice was heard and valued. Beginning with the Opening General Session, which showcased varied, innovative voices and perspectives and continuing all week, WEFTEC sought to welcome all into the conversation about water challenges.

The Affinity Group Breakfast Series brings together people who share a common identity to provide a safe space to discuss issues facing the group. At WEFTEC 2023, more than 250 people collectively attended the Asian and Pasifika Cultures in Water Breakfast, Black in Water Breakfast, Latino & Hispanic in Water Breakfast, and LGBTQIA+ in Water Breakfast.

The WEF InFLOW program aims to enhance diversity and inclusion in the water workforce. The STEMpath track includes scholars from historically black colleges and universities and other colleges/universities who are currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in a STEM field. The CareerTech track focuses on the local WEFTEC host communities to introduce opportunity youth to the wide array of career opportunities in water. At WEFTEC 2023, 45 scholars participated in the InFLOW program.

Giving Back

Cradles to Crayons.JPGWEFTEC’s impact extended into the local community through several initiatives. WEFTEC registrants assembled backpacks to provide food on the weekends for school-aged children who might otherwise go hungry that were given to St. Thomas of Canterbury School, participated in an online book drive to benefit Chicago public schools, and assembled hygiene kits that were distributed to several local charities.

Additionally, the annual WEF Community Service Project, in 2023 titled "Today’s Water Students, Tomorrow’s Water Leaders," brought together 110 volunteers to tackle drainage and flooding concerns at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy in Chicago. Waterpalooza — a day-long education fair hosted at an elementary school — engaged the students at A.O. Thorpe in hands-on and demonstrative activities that promote the value of water and encourage students to become stewards of their water environment.

Service Project.JPG

These actions underscore our belief that we can make a difference, one community at a time.

Looking Ahead

While celebrating our achievements, we recognize the journey doesn’t end here. The path to sustainability is ongoing, and each step forward sets the stage for the next. As we look towards future events, our focus remains on enhancing our sustainability practices, deepening our community engagement, and leading by example the water sector and among all conferences.
WEFTEC 2023 was not just a conference; it was a statement of our values in action. Here’s to continuing the journey towards a sustainable and inclusive future, together.

March 29, 2024

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