How the global MICE industry is responding to climate change

New in Events is a new podcast by IBTM, which brings you new episodes every fortnight. For episode five, hosts Mike Fletcher and Paul Cook discuss climate change and the impact of changing weather patterns on events with Shawna McKinley.  

Short for time? Scroll to the bottom to discover the key takeaways.

For this world Earth Day, IBTM’s New In Events podcast spoke to climate expert, Shawna McKinley after seeing her LinkedIn post that read:

“The resilience of events professionals never ceases to amaze me. For the last three months, I have been interviewing organisers in Canada whose events have been impacted by rare and unusual weather. Their stories of resilience are compelling.

They are, at times heartbreaking. Such as the legacies lost for sport and culture with the cancellation of the Canadian Table Tennis Championship in the Northwest Territories due to an emergency travel ban caused by wildfire.

And humbling. Including the duty of care expressed by the organisers of Slow Food Cycle Sunday, who put the safety of all residents of their community first in making the difficult decision to cancel, despite losses.

And hopeful. Lifting my hat to organisations like Festivals Kelowna for continuing to adapt and persist, come flood, heat, fire and smoke, year after year (after year after year).”

Shawna analysed 72 different events disrupted by extreme weather in Canada during 2023.

Wildfires and smoke caused 74% of all disruptions, followed by storms (12%) and heat (8%). Most disrupted events were cancelled (58%), while 29% could be rescheduled and did occur.

In episode five of New In Events - a podcast by IBTM, Shawna discusses her research, plus the impact that climate change is having on both planner budgets and lost legacies for destinations and communities that invest heavily in them.

Event organisers have always felt that weather is a manageable risk in isolation. But when more frequent and unpredictable weather patterns are combined with political instability, public health crises and economic pressures, there starts to emerge an unsustainable situation for planners and attendees alike.

From her home in North Vancouver, Shawna advises a better understanding of event insurance policies, along with emergency preparedness and better crisis communication.

She also calls on other countries to help her create a more global picture of how changing weather is impacting events worldwide. It’s important work that’s been going on since Hurricane Katrina ripped through Florida and the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Shawna’s is also a new perspective on the MICE industry’s fight against climate change that our listeners won’t have heard before.

Continuing the climate theme, in episode five we also hear from Kai Hattendorf who sits on the board of JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council) and came by the podcast booth at IBTM World in Barcelona last year.

JMIC now has 15 association members, including the likes of ICCA, IAPCO, UFI and UIA, and is the organisation responsible for administering Net Zero Carbon Events, the MICE industry’s global strategy to reach net zero by 2050 in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Kai tells us about how the roadmap is progressing and why ‘falling’ into the MICE industry shouldn’t have negative connotations, as it results in a broader, more diverse workforce with different skills that can better tackle challenges presented by the climate crisis.

So give us a listen! New in Events is available to download wherever you get your podcasts from.

Be sure to subscribe so that you never miss an episode and if you’re enjoying what you hear, why not share the pod with other global MICE professionals?


Key takeaways from Episode Five of New in Events 

  • 72 events were reported as disrupted by heat, wildfire, flooding, cold and storms in Canada in 2023. Had events within a series or tour been counted as individual events, total event disruptions would have increased to 99.
  • Wildfires and smoke caused 74% of all disruptions, followed by storms (12%) and heat (8%).
  • Most disrupted events were cancelled (58%). 29% were able to be rescheduled and did occur. Nearly half of the reported disruptions were in British Columbia (48%), followed by Nova Scotia (11%), Ontario (10%), Quebec (10%), the Northwest Territories (8%) and Alberta (5%).
  • Organisers feel weather to be a manageable risk in isolation, but that more frequent and diverse weather events, combined with public health and economic pressures, will present a financially unsustainable situation for organisers and attendees alike.
  • The Net Zero Carbon Events initiative is an industry-wide roadmap towards net zero by 2050, and emissions reductions by 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement.


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