ISO launches sustainable events standard

15th June 2012

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The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published the global incarnation of the British sustainable events standard, which is inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

The new ISO standard, ISO 20121, is based on BS 8901, the certification standard designed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) at the request of the London 2012 organisers to help demonstrate that this year’s Olympics were being managed sustainably.

20121 uses the traditional management systems approach, as used in ISO 14001, setting out requirements for a system that can be embedded in the organisation process that will identify the event’s environmental, social and economic impacts, and then take action to minimise negative ones.

The new standard does not provide a checklist of potential impacts, instead using a similar approach to that of ISO’s guidance standard on corporate social responsibility (ISO 26000), which encourages organisations to design their own process that considers the unique circumstances of each event to identify impacts.

David Stubbs, head of sustainability at London 2012, who initiated the development of 8901 in 2005, said: “London 2012 are proud to have been the catalyst for 20121. This is a piece of legacy with the potential to transform how events around the world consider their economic, environmental, and social impacts.”

Ana Inacio, from certification body SGS, which certified the London 2012 organising committee against 20121, said that the standard is applicable to events of all sizes.

“From conferences and sports matches, to weddings and product launches, 20121 is suitable for any event you can think of,” she said. “The standard will help organisations to raise their profile in the sustainability arena, reduce costs and build a great relationship with suppliers, staff and local communities.”


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