How to create a sustainability policy and action plan with your clients

Are you a freelancer or a consultancy that is eager for your clients to embrace sustainability but not sure how to win them over over or communicate to engage them.


Perhaps they say they want to ‘go green’ and you want a framework and structure to follow.

So where should you begin on your sustainability planning

From the get-go, it’s essential that you discuss sustainability measures, so you have a good lead time and have clarity on your client’s motivations and priorities. It’s also essential to build in monitoring and measuring so you can see that you can demonstrate the changes you have made. 
There is a general perception that sustainability will cost more and whilst certain ‘green’ materials do- switching materials is not what sustainability is about. And efficiency savings, in one area, can pay for more expensive options. Plus the value-add for marketing, PR and customer satisfaction is priceless.



How to co-create a policy with a client

Rather than writing up a document and sending it over for your client to approve, I highly recommend hosting a policy meeting with a group of key stakeholders from across the organisation.


This will make the policy meaningful and hold people accountable. It will also avoid those frustrating conversations when a director asks, ‘why isn’t it a paper-free event’?


I have conducted many of these discussions with corporate festival agencies to nightclub teams.  I start off by asking questions around what matters to people in relation to the 3 pillars of sustainability – people, planet and profit: 

  • What do they identify as the big issues in the world – what do they care about?  
  • What are the big issues in the events industry or their event in particular?
  • What is their vision of the ideal world that addresses all of these?
  • Then using a prioritisation exercise, I go back over those issues and relate it to their event by asking:
    • How important is the issue (1-5)
    • ​How much control do we have over the issue (1-5)​​​

Using this information I would then create a policy that includes: 

Issue statement – what are the core issues you identify  
Vision – what is your vision of a better/ ideal future (the dream) 
Scope of policy – what are the priorities (the highest-scoring areas)  
Commitments – what will you do​






How to create an action plan

With the priority issues (highest scoring), you need to create SMART targets. This will mean your team, contractors and venue have clarity on what they are working towards.



Going plastic-free  is not specific, measurable, achievable, realistic or timely, when you consider that most graphics materials are made from plastic.
A SMART target looks like:

  • 100% plastic bottle free by 2021
  • 75% single-use plastic-free by 2023

 An action plan should include: 

  • The actions required to achieve your targets
  • When they need to be completed
  • Who needs to know – so many sustainability initiatives fall down because they are not communicated to key stakeholders
  • How you will be measuring and monitoring your achievements – accountability is essential especially if you want to tell your clients and audience about your efforts.

Need some step-by-step instructions? 

Want to share your sustainability aspirations with your team and stakeholders?
Not sure where to begin? 


Our on demand content takes you through a step-by-step process with all the documents and templates to create a policy and an action plan that inspires and engages. 
Find out more




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