No one would deny that conferences, concerts, sports competitions and festivals have clear and unique social, economic, and environmental benefits. At the same time, the organisation of these events can generate considerable waste and have other negative impacts. To harmonise the event industry's global efforts to tackle this challenge, ISO will develop a Standard (ISO 20121) promoting the sustainable management of events.
ISO 20121 is expected to be finalised in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics. The Standard will be produced by a new ISO project committee ISO/PC 250, 'Sustainability in event management'. About 30 countries are already involved as participants or observers. New Zealand has elected to be a participant in this work. An international review group is currently being formed including representatives from SPARC, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and the Ministry of Economic Development.
'The future Standard will provide a framework that event planners, venues, and other members of the event supply chain can use to implement, maintain, and improve sustainability within their way of working,' says Fiona Pelham, Chair of ISO/PC 250.
'The Standard will make a great difference to the event industry. Just imagine the change in thinking that could follow as the international event industry starts to systematically address their negative social, economic, and environmental impacts.'
The Standard will take a management systems approach requiring identification of key sustainability issues like venue selection, operating procedures, supply chain management, procurement, communications, transport, and others.
'ISO 20121 will be developed with extensive stakeholder engagement so the industry can have one internationally recognised framework to implement sustainability,' says Elizabeth Henderson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at MPI*.
The Standard will be applicable to any organisation or individual (whether clients, suppliers or event managers) working with all types of events (exhibitions, sporting competitions, concerts, and so on).
* Meeting International Professionals (MPI) was the first to certify an event – MPI's European Conference 2008 – to BS 8901, the BSI (ISO member for the UK) Standard for sustainable event management.