Organizing a Sustainable Event

One critical facet of the International Water & Climate Forum that you will not find on the agenda is the meeting’s sustainable event management system – which is compliant with ISO 20121 . Following an event management system that is compliant with this standard will pervade all aspects of the meeting – some apparent, some more hidden – in ways that will both reduce the Forum’s environmental impact while offering useful lessons in resilience and sustainability to attendees.

Developed as an international standard to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics, the ISO 20121 – Event Sustainability Management System Standard offers best practices and a business framework that organizers can use to manage events and control their social, economic and environmental impacts.

Staging any event can generate negative impacts such as material waste, energy consumption and strains on local communities. Following the standard at the Forum will help the event leave behind a positive legacy while serving as a model for improving the sustainability of future meetings.

What does it mean for the Forum to operate in line with ISO 20121 principles? Most notably, the Forum has established several targets and objectives. They promote staff and key event stakeholder involvement and define management responsibilities and event hosting goals. Each objective features detailed key performance indicators and targets that were set with the aim of achieving continual improvement in event performance.

More broadly, the Forum will focus on four sustainable management practices that are governed by principles of inclusivity, integrity, stewardship and transparency:

  • Partnerships with event hosts;
  • Education of vendors, partners and attendees to achieve environmental, social and economic benefits;
  • Minimizing event environmental impacts and
  • Improving local economic impacts associated with the event.

Finally, the Forum website and other information provided at the event will offer multiple opportunities to learn about, support and benefit from the triple-bottom-line values of this and other ISO 20121 sustainable events.

Achieving a sustainable international forum will not be easy, but it will be worthwhile both in terms of environmental benefits and lessons that attendees can take home.