52nd Union

Day Show

Leading the first ISO 20121 certified and sustainable Union Day show for the UAE.

The Approach

The Union Day show is an iconic event in the UAE calendar, marking the date the seven Emirates became one nation. In 2023, the show represented a particularly poignant opportunity to showcase sustainable planning and impact, as it ran alongside COP28 in the Expo City Dubai site. COP is the annual meeting at which governments and other key players convene to address climate change as one of the most pressing issues of our time. To ensure the show was produced as sustainably as possible, People, the leading event agency producing the Show, asked The Bulb to bring the expertise needed to achieve this.

As a result, the 52nd Union Day Show was the first to be ISO 20121 certified. This is an internationally-recognised standard specifically developed for best sustainable practice for the events sector, and created a new benchmark for future shows to maintain.

The Impact

The Bulb achieved the mission to be the most sustainable Union Day show-to-date by setting five ambitious targets. These targets focused on ensuring sustainable behaviours and impact were considered throughout the process, from planning to derig. The Bulb created and provided accountability and expertise to ensure ongoing measurement, reporting and engagement took place, and to track progress and achievement as transparently as possible.

As a result of planning for sustainable impact:

  • The Show utilised TRACE, a carbon calculator developed specifically for the events sector, and being increasingly adopted across the industry.
  • 80% of assets and materials in the Show were hired or made from reclaimed or recyclable materials. This included FSC Certified timber, Cradle to Cradle certified ReBoard and waste by-products including Desert Board and DATEFORM.
  • 91.5% of all materials used were subsequently reused, donated or repurposed following the Show.
  • 75% of the workforce were recruited from the UAE, which reduced the need for hotels and flights, therefore significantly reducing carbon emissions and resource use.
  • 93% of the site was powered by the Mains Grid, the most efficient use of energy.
  • Nearly 1 tonne of plastic avoided from site through eliminating single-use water bottles!
  • 87% of the team attended bespoke sustainability training.
  • 92% of contracted suppliers were based within the UAE, which significantly reduced transport emissions and benefited the local economy.
  • Sustainability was embedded from the start of the process and became a part of everyone’s job which inspired sustainable action and best practice.