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The Sustainable Effect

  /  Foodforthoughts   /  Why is 2021 a good time to consider ISO 20121 certification?

Why is 2021 a good time to consider ISO 20121 certification?

The events and tourism sectors face huge uncertainties about their future. The whole industry ecosystem is going through very rough times, and although it might seem like a good idea to sit tight and wait, at The Sustainable Effect we believe this crisis is an opportunity to build back better.

The first step for this to happen is to integrate sustainability into decision making processes and practices. It is sometimes difficult to know where to start but there are good tools that support businesses perform better and be more resilient. The ISO 20121 International Standard is one of them.

ISO 20121 what is this?

The ISO 20121 standard is a management system designed to help event organisers address the social, economic and environmental impacts of any type of events. It is suitable for Festivals, Sports and Corporate events but also any organisation involved with events: venues, technical suppliers, caterers, or NTOs (National Tourist Organisations) and DMOs (Destinations Marketing Organisations). The standard is adapted to small, medium and large organisations and is based on the continuous improvement principle.
The interest for this standard has been growing in the past years; more than 150 organisations are ISO 20121 certified in Europe, most of them based in the UK, France and Italy (UNIMEV, Etude certification-labellisation-évaluation dans la filière « événement »).

3 reasons to go for ISO 20121

Sustainable development is essential to business performance

It is unclear when physical events will happen again, but we know they will. What we know too is that sustainability is THE topic of the European Green Deal, designed to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are now integrated in most big organisations’ reporting.

The growing demand for sustainability credentials is not going away, if anything, it’s been reinforced by the COVID crisis.

The ISO 20121 management system framework provides and efficient methodology to help businesses devise a sustainable development strategy aligned with their values and resources. Measuring progress is a key feature of the standard to drive continuous improvement.

The management system encourages organisations to understand the context in which they operate through a sustainable development lens.

“Sustainable development is a fundamental break that’s going to reshuffle the entire deck. There are companies today that are going to dominate in the future simply because they understand that.” Francois-Henri Pinault
Engage your teams and suppliers on a meaningful project

The Deloitte Global Millennial survey 2020 clearly reveals that the pandemic has reinforced the Millennials and Gen Z in their willingness to drive positive change and their expectations to see businesses and governments commit to a better society.
The current context of remote work and drop in business activity can be factors of employee disengagement. Some suppliers might also be in a bad place at the moment.
Gathering a task force of employees and preferred suppliers to brainstorm on more sustainable approaches would certainly generate innovative solutions and boost motivation. A project with purpose is an excellent way to keep teams and other close stakeholders motivated and empowered.

Stakeholder engagement and dialog is an important element for a successful sustainability strategy, and as such is a requirement of the ISO 20121 standard.

Be sustainability proof when business comes back

Large corporations have solid supply chain management requirements when it comes to sustainability. More often than not, RFPs (Requests For Proposal) include specific questions about sustainability policy, performance indicators on diversity and inclusion or waste management for example. The weight of sustainability credentials in supplier performance ratings is increasing.
Investing on a sharp sustainable development plan now will bring your organisation up to speed with the market requirements and give you a significant competitive advantage to win new business. It also attracts the right talents. Integrating sustainability considerations to decision making is by definition a long term approach that reinforces resilience; a much needed asset in uncertain times.


What we like about the ISO 20121 is its step by step efficient methodology to drive positive impact and its adaptability to existing processes. It encourages businesses to continually improve, based on their resources and capabilities rather than imposing a specific level of performance.


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