What is ISO 20121
ISO 20121 Event Sustainability is a management system standard that has been created for the implementation of sustainability in the events industry. It is a standard that is specific to the event industry so it can be used by suppliers, venues, event organisers, caterers and following the framework of the standard will mean that sustainability (economic, environmental and social impacts) are considered at every decision point in the planning of an event.
How was the standard developed
ISO 20121 was developed after BS8901 the British standard for sustainability in events was being used around the world. The development of an ISO happens when all counties’ standards bodies are asked if they would like to be involved in the development of an international version of a national standard. Over 30 countries were involved in the development of ISO20121 including Japan, China, Canada, USA, Sweden, Germany, Spain and also a number of liaison bodies and associations from the industry such as MPI. Fiona Pelham, our Managing Director was the Chair of the Standard.
When was it launched
ISO 20121 was launched in the summer of 2012 in time for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games. In 2016 Rio was awarded the international standard recognising the Olympic environmental, economic and social legacy.
Why is the standard important for the industry
ISO 20121 is important because it is an international recognised frame and was created by the event industry for the event industry so each country in the ISO development process was able to send three representatives to the meeting. The adoption of the ISO standard will change the event industry because it will support them to consider their economic, environmental and social impacts. There is a consistent way of producing an International Standard and this is recognised around the world as a collaborative approach so ISO 20121 will be seen as a standard, which is recognised around the world and is created in a way that is internationally recognised.
Who is implementing the standard currently
There are a number of organisations that are leading with implementing ISO 20121 and these organisations started by implementing the British Standard BS8901, which was the starting point for the creation of ISO 20121. For example EIBTM which is one of the IBTM shows, has been implementing BS8901 for a number of years now and will be ready to make some changes to the system to ensure their management system is ready for ISO 20121 and this especially relevant as EIBTM is based in Barcelona and their attendees travel from around the world to visit so it makes sense that they would be implementing an international standard to showcase their sustainability leadership.
What is the future of sustainability in the event industry?
The future of sustainability in the event industry is definitely increasing in importance, in 2012 there are two major international frameworks being launched, ISO 20121 and the Global Reporting Initiative’s Event Organiser Sector Supplement. These international frameworks have been created for the event industry and these frameworks are recognised outside of the event industry so, leading sustainability practitioners and governance bodies all know ISO and GRI to be best practice, so we may find that there is an increase in pressure from those bodies external to the event industry to start using these systems and frameworks.