Do event management and sustainability mean the same?
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Do event management and sustainability mean the same?

Do event management and sustainability mean the same?

Running sustainable events is not on every company’s radar but there are many reasons for producing them


On September 25, 2015, the world leaders adopted a set of global objectives for eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets for the next 15 years, in order to achieve a sustainable world by the year 2030.

Sustainable development is defined as the satisfaction of ‘the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It consists of three pillars that seeks to achieve in a balanced manner: economic development, social development and the protection of the environment. These elements are interrelated and are all essential for the well-being of people and societies.

Usually, people tend to think that an event cannot be sustainable and affordable. But nothing could be further from the truth.

We have analysed all the sustainable development goals in order to know which ones have a bigger impact on the events management, from the planning, to the execution and the closure. As a consequence of this analysis, we selected the SDGs which had a bigger impact in the sector of the events taking into account the specific range of our organisation. The greater the planning, the lower the cost of making the event sustainable.

Running sustainable events is not on every company’s radar but there are many reasons for producing them. Companies need to be an example and driver of the commitment to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) where our activity has an impact. In this line, there is the ISO 20121 certification, which verifies the sustainable management of all the events.

With this certificate, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), an internationally recognised certification group, endorse companies for adopting sustainability criteria throughout the entire event management cycle, as well as its commitment to reducing the carbon footprint.

The ISO 20121 standard is obtained through the adoption of sustainable measures throughout all phases of event management, taking into account the environmental, social and economic impact of the event, in line with the SDGs defined in its Strategic Plan.

In addition, this ISO certification requires an annual external audit to verify the company’s compliance with the criteria established in the standard, as well as the impact of the most relevant sustainable elements in all our events.

With no doubt, another point that helps to achieve this recognition, is the definition of the following core areas that all events management should have if they want to be truly sustainable:

– Transparency and ethical management, based on the respect for human rights, good governance practices and fair competition.

– Human resources and talent development, which favours training as well as professional and personal development, respecting the principle of equal opportunities.

– Inclusiveness and stakeholders’ co-responsibility, developing continuing relationships that allows the group to understand stakeholders’ expectations and needs and to carry out actions that generate shared value.

– Sustainable infrastructure, promoting energy savings and reducing energy consumption by improving environmental performance.

– Economic growth particularly linked to the benefits intended for the surroundings in which the event is hosted.

– Social commitment, prioritising accessibility, equal opportunities and respect for diversity.

– Sustainable procurement, considering not only economic and technical aspects of a purchase, but also the environmental and social aspects that influence the entire life cycle of the event.

– Sustainable waste management, which is one of the greatest impacts generated by events.

Within the framework of the certification process for the new ISO standard, it is desirable to follow as well a Guide for Organising Sustainable Events, which can be a useful tool with recommendations on sustainable criteria throughout the event life cycle, contributing to minimise any negative environmental impact and to promoting the social and economic development of event’s surroundings.

It is a fact that modern event planning must understand that events do not happen in isolation as they affects the local area in a variety of ways. The task for an event management company is to ensure this impact is as positive as possible. This way we will always being investing in our planet.

Laura Garzia is the Acciona Cultural Engineering MENA events director 


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