ISO 20121 Explained
By 2005, practitioners within the events industry were becoming aware of the need for more sustainable practices. Specifically, the Head of Sustainability at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, David Stubbs, was looking for a way to make good on the sustainability promises made in the London Games bid. He raised the issue with the British Standards Institution (BSI) in the UK. This led to the creation of BS 8901:2007 Specification for a sustainable event management system with guidance for use. After a period of review, the second version of BS 8901 was published in 2009.
BS 8901 was received very positively by the international event industry, and was soon being widely used. For example, COP15, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, was certified as compliant with BS 8901 in December 2009. The Microsoft Corporation achieved certification to BS 8901 at its Microsoft Convergence® 2009 event in New Orleans, Louisiana, in March 2009.
Responding to this international enthusiasm for BS 8901, in May 2009 a proposal for an international sustainable event management standard was jointly submitted to the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) by BSI Group and ABNT, the Brazilian national standards body.
Delegations of experts of the national standards institutions of 25 countries developed the standard, with another 10 countries as observers. Eight stakeholder organisations from the event industry, or with a strong interest in sustainability, also participated. Members of the sustainability team of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were among the stakeholders who provided input into the development of the standard.
Organisations can demonstrate voluntary conformity with ISO 20121 by either: first party self-declaration; second party confirmation of conformance by parties having an interest in the organisation, such as clients; or by ISO Certification by an independent third party, e.g. a Certification body.