London 2012 leads the race by adopting new global sustainability standard

Press release - 20th June 2012

A new global sustainability standard which helps organisers run more efficient events that reduce carbon emissions and achieve a more inclusive workforce has been launched.

The standard - which was developed following the success of British Standard BS 8901 for sustainability management systems for events - is being used by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to help make the 2012 Games the most sustainable to date.

Launched in response to global demand, ISO 20121 sets out a framework for reducing costs, carbon emissions & waste, managing the biodiversity of venues and achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The standard was developed by co-opted experts from 30 countries and provides a common international language for sustainability in the events industry and a useable benchmarking tool.

It takes a management systems approach for running more sustainable events, which should lead to the improvements in key sustainability issues such as venue selection, transport, recycling or reusing demolition waste, creating a sustainable food strategy, promoting healthy living and creating skills, employment and business legacies.

The standard also includes practical guidance on communications, operational planning and control, stakeholder identification and engagement, supply chain management and procurement, and issue evaluation.

Like BS 8901, the global standard will be suitable for all sizes and types of events. The benefits of implementing the standard are already understood by early adopters including LOCOG, official Games venues Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and Earls Court.

David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability at LOCOG, said: “Through the implementation of a sustainability management system for events, London 2012 will truly have raised the bar for demonstrating what can be achieved with sustainability.

“By implementing these standards we have methodically improved the sustainability of the Games. The issues that matter have been identified through professional judgement and proactive stakeholder engagement.”

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive of BSI, said: “Over the next few years as sustainability becomes an inherent factor in all businesses, this standard will provide the event industry with an opportunity to lead. We hope that future initiatives, small or large, will be inspired by the good work started by LOCOG in partnership with BSI in this important area of sustainability”.

Organizations used to the original BS 8901 standard will identify the following differences between the British Standard and the ISO:

  • implementation of the ISO “high-level structure” that is part of all new and revised ISO management system standards, which in future will improve interoperability between such standards
  • greater focus on the context in which the event organization exists, which should help the organization to think strategically
  • explicit requirements to identify operational risks and opportunities
  • more guidance on issue identification and prioritisation