If this year's Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress, which wrapped up last week in Vancouver, British Columbia, had to be described with one word, it likely would be green. Held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, which happens to be the first convention center to earn the Platinum LEED certification, MPI WEC dedicated 10 concurrent sessions, one of its Flashpoint speakers, and an executive panel to corporate social responsibility and sustainable events topics, along with offering pre-show service projects that included clearing invasive plants from a North Vancouver park to help protect salmon streams.

But the biggest green achievement MPI announced at this year's event was the launch of a sustainability measurement tool for the meetings and events industry. More than just a carbon footprint counter, it is designed with international environmental meetings requirements in mind, including APEX Green Meeting Standards, British Standard 8901, ISO 20121, and the Global Reporting Initiative, under the guidance of MPI's Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Council, in collaboration with the Green Meeting Industry Council.

The tool, still in beta version, is designed to help planners measure and report their meetings' water, waste, energy, paper, food, the waste generated, and the community impact. It also can convert and calculate carbon emissions using international standards. It is designed to help MPI aggregate member data to benchmark the meetings industry's progress in terms of CSR initiatives. The tool was developed with financial support from IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), which gave the MPI Foundation $500,000 specifically to develop an ongoing CSR initiative.

Other news from MPI WEC 2010:
Career development: MPI’s on-site career center was a hub of activity, boasting the most job postings in MPI’s history. Rod Abraham, who recently announced he was launching a new meeting management firm that also will provide on-site staffing on a contract basis, was on the hunt for planners with at least 10 years of experience. He says he found several excellent prospects through the on-site career center. Job seekers also availed themselves of the center’s professional coaching and résumé-consulting services. The MPI Foundation provided full financial support for 15 members who are in a career transition period to attend the Vancouver meeting, and the meeting included a series of career-related sessions on topics such as leadership, personal and professional branding, career management, public speaking, sales and networking tactics, and communication skills.

Recognizing Success: MPI held a special ceremony during the event for its Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence, or RISE, awards. Among the winners was David M. Rich, senior vice president of George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, who received MPI’s first RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership for his thought leadership and substantial contributions to the meetings and events industry. Krzysztof Celuch, CITE, of Poland, received the RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement for his achievements in the Polish meeting and events industry and advancement of the MPI Poland Club. MPI’s Minnesota Chapter received the RISE Award for Community Achievement in Knowledge and Ideas for its “Mentoring: Power of 2” program; and the RISE Award for Community Achievement in Marketplace Excellence went to the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter for its Global Community Challenge. The RISE Award for Organizational Achievement was presented to the U.S. Green Building Council for its leadership role in using meetings and events to educate the hospitality and building industry concerning green design initiatives. More about the winners and their accomplishments.

Exploring the Business of Meetings: Along with sessions on developing successful strategic meetings management programs and leveraging meetings in today’s post AIG-era, MPI offered a two-day ROI competency-building workshop. It also included pre-meeting co-creation sessions that served as focus groups to explore both the future and the value of meetings. Two sets of two-part sessions also were on the agenda to further explore what the future of meetings might look like. Among the topics explored were what MPI and other industry organizations have done to date to determine the financial and intangible value of meetings, and how to communicate that value to political and community leaders. In addition, Meeting Professionals International announced new research to be conducted as part of its Value of Meetings initiative. Consulting firm Association Insights is launching a study on meeting and business events performance, which will be funded through a research alliance between Reed Travel Exhibitions and the MPI Foundation. The results will be presented by MPI during AIBTM’s America Meetings Week in Baltimore in June 2011. This study will add to the initiative’s body of knowledge, which so far includes a “Meetings Deliver” white paper and user guide that can be downloaded from MPI’s Web site.

PSAV Presentation Services and Omni Hotels & Resorts also announced that they were investing in the MPI Foundation to advance the future of meetings research. PSAV will financially support digital advancements at future WEC events as part of a three-year partnership agreement. Omni has agreed to partner with the MPI Foundation until 2012 to fund the development of strategic meeting design content, as well as education about new developments in this area.

Buyers and Sellers: MPI WEC 2010’s marketplace trade show was the last traditional exhibition for the World Education Conference. Instead, the association is encouraging its members to support IMEX America, which will take place in Las Vegas in October 2011. MPI also included a hosted-buyer program at this year’s WEC, which required planners to meet for pre-scheduled, 10-minute appointments in return for complimentary hotel and conference registration. While details were not available at press time, MPI officials did say during a press conference that supplier-buyer interactions will still play a key role in future WECs.