Tree planting programs are part of a larger trend toward “greener” meetings, one so widespread that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes its own “Green Meetings” guide where meeting planners can find tips, tools and resources to make environmentally responsible choices for meetings and events.

“The climate is not going to get better unless we change some things drastically,” said Corbin Ball, CMP, and Principal of Corbin Ball & Co., in Bellingham, Wash. “Even then it’s going to take a while.”

When it comes to in-person meetings, Ball has seen more organizers gravitating to properties with Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certifications that have embraced sustainable practices such as recycling and relying on locally-sourced food.

“The meeting planner can make new choices about how to reduce the environmental impact,” said Ball.

Another initiative that more companies and organizations are embracing is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Evertreen, based in Brentford, England, is planting trees worldwide on behalf of client companies and organizations to offset carbon emissions and meet the SDGs.

Evertreen was founded in April 2020, as the Covid pandemic put much of the world into lockdown.

Luca Giordaniello, Co-founder and Head of Sustainability Consulting at Evertreen, said their program helps support companies in several of the Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty (Goal 1), Gender Equality and Reduce Inequalities (Goals 5 and 10), Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8), Climate Action (Goal 13) and Life on Land (Goal 15), referring to the program’s decision to plant trees that respect local ecosystem.

It also offers accountability, a bonus at a time when sustainability efforts are under the microscope to make sure they are effective.

“Evertreen plants trees and has monitoring procedures to ensure survival of trees,” said Giordaniello. “We also offer a satellite monitoring service to companies, to be able to monitor portions of the reforestation projects they are financing.”

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Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) has joined with Evertreen to plant more than 1,000 trees in its own “forest,” saving more than 150,000 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a program initiated in October 2022. The initiative has resulted in mangroves planted in Indonesia, dry deciduous trees in Madagascar and forestry trees in Nepal with the help of local farmers. ALHI plans to gift the trees to meeting planners for each meeting booked and provide a thank-you video from the farmers to share.

“As ALHI continues to take a leadership position on issues that are critical to our meetings community, it is important to partner with organizations that can help provide an immediate impact,” said Michael Dominguez, President & CEO, of ALHI. “Our partnership with Evertreen allowed us to not only contribute to the sustainability efforts of our community, but to do so in a very impactful way that is immediately actionable and visible.”

Evertreen, through its partnerships with farmers, has so far planted trees in nine countries and regions: Brazil (where it recently activated a subscription to plant 1,000 trees per year), Central America, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Nepal.

“Many companies gift trees regularly to their employees for anniversaries, Christmas, seminaries, or other occasions,” said Giordaniello.

Evertreen has found that many employees enjoy receiving the trees more than branded items such as coffee mugs, and enjoy sharing the certificate on their social networks, Giordaniello said. Evertreen has partnered with Hewlett Packard, the UK-based private-equity fund Capricorn Financial Consultancy and The Bedding Industries of America, among a number of other organizations.