Sustainable events 2021

Bye 2020, Hello Future: To Purposeful & Sustainable Events

2020 is gone, in a huff of pandemic dust and we’re now staring into 2021 hopeful and curious to see how it unfolds.

What’s for sure in the world of events is that we’re going to have to continue to re-learn a couple of things and more so, we have to re-imagine our world afresh.

The situation caught the sector off guard as mass cancellation of events began, job losses and businesses closure ensued.

Here’s a look at some of the key factors that have had an impact on events in 2020 and will continue to in 2021 and probably beyond.

Health and Safety

This will still be a huge priority especially because Kenya (and Africa) for that matter may not procure enough vaccines for the masses.

Vaccination certificates or immunity passports will definitely be a huge driving factor in how to conduct business, especially any that involves in-person convergence.

Already there’s a major crisis in Kenya as health workers downed their tools just before Christmas due to poor support from the national and regional governments.

What’s more, our health sector is in shambles and it’s not clear whether the global business traveler (for conferences and trade shows) is willing to venture here in the absence of properly equipped and supported facilities.

Evolving Event Design

You now know that event design is not just the look and feel of an event but what essentially happens at the event. How do your guests experience what you’ve created?

What was your experience with in-person events with social distancing, frequent sanitizing and masking?

Events are mostly social, where people come to connect and network and it largely feels like this vibe was lost in 2020. The reason to attend an event in-person just wasn’t there due to this.

And then events were capped at 200 and a national curfew imposed especially because of the spikes in infections and fatalities.

Whereas, Kenya and Africa haven’t been as badly hit,  mass events will take a while to return. Already political and religious gatherings have been put to a halt till further notice.

Online Events

Are we virtual or just online? Zoom meetings took precedence for the better part of 2020. But they’re quite exhausting.

Going forward how can event planners and designers make them more exciting and less monotonous?

For one, it won’t be possible to have everyone online entirely or at the same time. There has been talk of how the best format would be a hybrid one.

It has proven effective for meetings, conferences, weddings, funerals, graduations and other mass driven events.

The Online Experience

What’s evident is that future event experiences will be more like the gaming or reality TV experiences. Fact  is, the online experience is here to stay and gives those unable or unwilling to attend an in-person event, a viable option.

A  perfect example of a hybrid event is TED. An event whose majority audience is online. It’s watched on YouTube or via the TED app.  The same goes for Engage Kenya which is modeled on the same format as TED.

While it might seem daunting, it’s the way to the future as the industry adapts to survive.

More adjustments…

What to Leave in 2020

1. Wasteful Events

Some events seem to disregard stringent planning and budgeting hence leading to a waste of resources and increasing inefficiencies.  

  • Paper:

For instance, do you really need all those paper print-outs , badges, programmes and branding cut-outs?

Instead,  why don’t you: Use an event app, build an event website or stick to emailing. Also consider using digital signage at your event, rather than one-off pull-up banners.

  • Power and Energy:

As everything centres around hybrid and online events, AV and event technology suppliers need to think of energy saving solutions.

One way would be to rationalize their inventories to minimize redundancy and over-engineered AV solutions. Also, is it possible to have the event powered 100% by renewable energy?

  • Over-Catering:

Effective planning requires that you have exact numbers for  attendees and  details of their preferences too.

The guest list should be quite specific in terms of numbers and dietary requirements, so you can adequately cater to your guests’ needs.

Any food waste should have a clear plan of disposal.

  • Reduce Travel:

Your event venue should at least be accessible to everyone –think of those abled differently and try to accommodate them.

The more accessible the venue, the less wastage there is on fuel and pollution to the environment.

  • On-site water refills:

Instead of tons of plastic water bottles being allowed into a venue, how about having a vendor setup water refill stations at various points? Not possible? Then consider stainless steel or glass bottles which are now available in the market.

The people at Karura Forest have skillfully mastered how to control the penetration of plastic water bottles at their venues.

2. Unreasonable deadlines for awesome concepts

If there’s anything that 2020 has taught us, is that time is a valuable currency. Any rushed requests for ideas and concepts are an absolute no.

Add to that unnecessary site visits. Further, since event design will change to accommodate the online element, more lead time will definitely have to be factored in for detailed planning.

3. Un-recyclable décor

Yeah, it can be done and all recyclable décor needs is just a bit of adornment.

You don’t need to use flowers all the time. The cost and amount of pollution isn’t worth it.

There are actually plenty of waste materials and foliage that you can convert to re-usable décor.

From stones, wood, bottles, dry leaves and old fabric, you won’t be short of ideas.


When all is said and done, purposeful and sustainable events are the only way to the future.

Non-one can predict with conviction what the outcome will be once the pandemic is over but Health and Safety; Event Design and The Online Event Experience will define how events progress in the future.

More importantly, sustainability must be part of any event strategy. More consideration for people and the environment in the event planning process is what will guarantee successful events.

Good luck in 2021, and remember to maintain sufficient distance, sanitize and mask!

To everyone who continues to patronize our business and read this blog, THANK YOU. Especially for making 2020 survivable. Let’s RIDE ON.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Share on whatsapp