ISO 20121:2012
Event sustainability management systems — Requirements with guidance for use

ISO 20121:2012 specifies requirements for an event sustainability management system for any type of event or event-related activity, and provides guidance on conforming to those requirements.

ISO 20121:2012 is applicable to any organization that wishes to:

establish, implement, maintain and improve an event sustainability management system;
ensure that it is in conformity with its stated sustainable development policy;
demonstrate voluntary conformity with ISO 20121:2012 by
first party (self-determination and self-declaration),
second party (confirmation of conformance by parties having an interest in the organization, such as clients, or by other persons on their behalf), or
an independent third party (e.g. a certification body).
ISO 20121:2012 has been designed to address the management of improved sustainability throughout the entire event management cycle.

In simple terms, ISO 20121 describes the building blocks of a management system that will help any event related organisation to:
Continue to be financially successful
Become more socially responsible
Reduce its environmental footprint
ISO 20121 applies to all types and sizes of organisation involved in the events industry – from caterers, lighting and sound engineers, security companies, stage builders and venues to independent event organisers and corporate and public sector event teams.
Organisations that successfully implement the standard will be able to seek independent recognition of their achievement through a process called ‘Certification’.
Six important points to understand about the ISO 20121 Standard

1.    ISO 20121 is a “specification”
The standard specifies the management system elements that an organisation has to have in place. All the elements described in the standard must be in place prior to the organisation being able to claim compliance with the standard. 

2.     ISO 20121 is not a checklist
The standard is not a checklist but is a more complex document that describes the elements of a management system that an organisation has to have in place.

3.    ISO 20121 is difficult to understand
Unfortunately, international standards such as ISO 20121 are written in a way that is often unintelligible to many people. Consequently, you may need help in interpreting the requirements. Our ISO 20121 Team has developed a Guide to ISO 20121 that provides a plain and simple step by step roadmap on how to meet the requirements of the standard.

4.    ISO 20121 is about the management system
The standard applies to the management system used by organisations in delivering their event related activities, products and services. It is the management system operated by the organisation that is compliant with ISO20121, not the event.  (Note: a management system is the set of interrelated or interacting elements that are used to establish policies and objectives, and the processes to achieve those objectives.)

5.     ISO 20121 may require the adoption of new practices
All organisations have a management system of some kind otherwise they would not be in business, it just might not be written down or thought of in the terms used within the standard. In our experience, most organisations are already doing up to 70% of what the standard requires. Hence achieving ISO 20121 may not require any radical change but is likely to require the adoption of new practices.

6.    ISO 20121 does not set performance requirements
The standard does not specify which sustainability issues to manage or what performance levels to achieve. What the standard requires is that an organisation has in place a transparent process through which it systematically evaluates the issues relevant to its operations and sets its own objectives and targets for improvement.

Certification, inspection and audit solutions focused on business optimization.






WHO WE ARE           






244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1203, New York, NY 10001 US
ISO 20121 Certification

Organisations can seek independent certification (often mistakenly called 'accreditation) to ISO 20121 in order to demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the standard.
During the certification process, the certifier inspects your management system and interviews key personnel in order to verify that your management system:

Is designed in accordance with ISO 20121

Is operating effectively

Evidence needs to be sufficient to demonstrate that the event sustainability management system is an integral part of the event management process and not an additional “add-on” component.  As long as there are no major problems (or non-conformities) then you will be issued with a Certificate of Conformance to ISO 20121.

What does the term “Sustainability” mean?

There is much confusion about what the term sustainability actually means. The important point to note is that sustainability is not just about being “green” and more environmentally responsible – it is more encompassing than that.
In a nutshell, sustainability is about how an organisation continues to run its activities in a commercially successful way whilst contributing towards a stronger and more just society and reducing its impact on the environment.

To achieve ISO 20121, an organisation will need to demonstrate that it has considered within its management system all key financial, economic, social and environmental issues relevant to its operations; focusing solely on environmental issues will not be sufficient.