BS 8901 and the New ISO Standard ISO 20121

BS 8901 and the New ISO Standard ISO 20121




The events industry has been making moves to be more environmentally friendly. Despite the economic and social benefits of hosting concerts and conferences, there is often important waste and other negative environmental impacts that consequence.

The BS 8901 standard was produced specifically for the events industry to help it function in a more sustainable manner. This standard has been hugely successful around the world and has led to the development in draft form of a new international standard ISO 20121. The ISO 20121 is expected to be finalised in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics.

The social and economic benefits of hosting conferences, concerts, and festivals are great. Nonetheless, despite these benefits the events industry also has a responsibility to the ecosystem. The events industry needs to address the important waste and other negative social and environmental impacts that consequence from holding events.

One such organisation which has enjoyed the success of being awarded the desired BS 8901 certificate is Croke Park stadium in Ireland. Croke Park has become the world’s first stadium to receive BS 8901. The certification is audited by the international standards group, SGS Ireland and recognises quality in event management. The stadium was audited under three main categories: ecosystem, Social and Economic as part of this sustainability management system certification.

BS 8901 was largely prompted by the Olympic games, but it has proven to be successful across the events industry. The BS 8901 standard was first published in November 2007 and was revised and re-issued in September 2009. BS 8901 shares shared management system principles and processes with the ISO 9001 standard on Quality Management and the ISO 14001 standard on Environmental Management. The BS 8901 standard defines the requirements for sustainability event management to ensure a long-lasting and balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and social progress in relation to events. If the organisation has already met either of these standards, they will be in a better position to adopt the BS 8901 certification.

The event industry has given the BS 8901 positive feedback not just in the UK but around the world. The success of this standard has led to it being developed into the draft of ISO 20121. The ISO 20121 is an international standard which will use BS 8901 as its starting point and the 30 countries that are involved in this ISO course of action will contribute to the development of the standard. This will have the effect of building on what BS 8901 was and create a rare international document around sustainability.

The standard ISO 20121 will take a management systems approach requiring identification of meaningful sustainability issues, such as venue selection, operating procedures, supply chain management, procurement, communications, transport, among others. Like BS 8901, the global standard will be appropriate for all sizes and types of events. In addition, implementing the recommended systems will not only help to reduce a company’s social and environmental impact, but is also likely to increase business efficiency and cut costs. 

ISO 20121 is expected to be finalised in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics. All international standards bodies have been invited to be part of the development course of action and those that choose to be involved will build on BS 8901 to create ISO 20121.




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