ISO 20121 was established in 2012 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Standard is modeled of BS89001: Specification for a sustainable event management system with guidance for use.
Due to the international success of BS89001, there was calling for a similar ISO Standard document to be created. In May 2009, a proposal was submitted.
ISO 20121:2012 was developed by ISO project committee, ISO/PC 250, Sustainability in event management and was published in June 2012, just in time for the London Olympics’.
All event industry organisations can achieve ISO 20121 if compliance is demonstrated. The Standard can be applied throughout all stages of the event management cycle and applies to all organisations that aim to establish, implement, uphold, and continuously improve an event sustainability management system. It assists organisations with their sustainable development issues linked to economic, social, and environmental factors.
The Standard is voluntary, meaning it is not a legal obligation for an organisation to implement or adhere to. ISO 201121 standard adopts a changed (Annex SL) structure, which will be common amongst other ISO standards, including ISO 9001:2015 (Quality) & ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental). Annex SL has been purposely done to assist organisations in aligning and amalgamating their standards if they wish to do so.
The Standard is set out into the following clauses in line with Annex SL:
- Context of the organisation
- Performance evaluations
It is important to note that an event does not receive ISO 20121 certification. Certificates can only be issued to the organisations involved in the development of the event. The organisation must demonstrate that they have developed a management system compliant with the ISO 20121:2012 Standard.