ISO 20121 Event sustainability management systems - Requirements with guidance for use

The first edition of ISO 20121 was published in 2012, in time for it to be used at the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

With the Paris Olympic Games and Paralympic Games due in 2024, work is ongoing in order to ensure that an updated edition will be available in time for it to be used at those Games.

This International Standard specifies requirements for an organization’s event sustainability management system, to enable it to improve the sustainability of its events. It is applicable to all types and sizes of organizations involved in the design and delivery of events and accommodates diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions. At the same time it requires organizations to recognize their relationship with and impact on society and society's expectations of events.

This management system standard challenges an organization to improve its processes and thinking to lead to continual performance improvement and allows the organization the flexibility to be more creative about the delivery of event-related activities, without detracting from the aim of the event. It is not a checklist or a reporting framework or a method of evaluating event sustainability performance.

ISO 20121 is intended to be applied flexibly, to allow organizations that have not formally addressed sustainable development to start to implement an event sustainability management system. Organizations with existing management systems will be able to integrate the requirements of this International Standard into their existing systems. All organizations will benefit from the process of continual improvement over time.

The complexity of the system and the extent of documentation and the resources that will need to be  devoted to it will be proportional to its defined scope, the size of the organization, and to the nature of the organization's activities, products and services. This is particularly the case for small and medium sized enterprises.

The success of the system will depend on commitment from all levels and functions, especially from top management. In addition, in order for such a management system to be successful, it needs to be flexible and integrated within the event management process and not just regarded as a component to be added on. For maximum effectiveness, its influence needs to extend throughout the supply chain, as well as the identified interested parties. 

Compliance to ISO 20121 can be evaluated through conformity assessment, as detailed in the Scope.