With its eyes on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 20121 committee—with members from 30 countries—is working aggressively to develop standards for sustainable events.
London’s Olympics bid in fact recognized the need to harmonize the events industry’s efforts to reduce waste and other negative impacts of large events, leading the British Standards Institute to create the national standard BS 8901, which generated international interest.
Among the organizations that have expressed support for an International Standard are the International Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, host of the United Nations’ 15th Climate Change Conference, held in Copenhagen last December. The ISO standard, which will use BS 8901 as its starting point, will take a management systems approach to creating a sustainable event by requiring identification of key issues such as venue selection, operating procedures, supply chain management, procurement, communications, transport, and others. Like BS 8901, it will respond to the unique needs and nature of the events sector with a flexible approach geared to producing results, according to Fiona Pelham, chairwoman of the ISO Technical Committee, who also sat on the Green Meeting Events and Practices Panel for the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange. Pelham is principal of U.K.-based Sustainable Events Ltd. and Organize This Ltd.