The British Standards Institution ("BSI") has published the updated events sustainability management systems guidance which aims to help organisations improve the sustainability of their events and event-related activities. The guidance will be of particular importance given the high-profile sporting events due to happen this year, including the Olympic Games in Paris and the UEFA European Football Championship, and the growing demand from the public and customers for sustainable practices in events management. The standards touch on sectors - facilities management and sport - of which we are particularly experienced in, and this short blog sets out a brief summary of the new standards.

New Guidance

In 2007, BSI published guidance for sustainable events management to be applied for the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was originally published as a national document before the International Organization for Standardization ("ISO") subsequently produced the international version, published as BS ISO 20121:2012.

The BSI's "Event sustainability management systems – Requirements with guidance for use (BS ISO 20121:2024)" (the "Guidance") supersedes the BS ISO 20121:2012 and has been published just in time for the Paris Olympic Games in August of this year. The Guidance provides a framework to manage the social, economic and environmental impacts of events.

The Guidance seeks to ensure that events are directed with a due consideration for sustainability throughout the full lifecycle of an event, including leadership, planning, communications, supply chain management and performance measurement, and includes an increased focus on climate change, supply chain measures and human rights.

It also aligns with global sustainability frameworks, goals and reporting standards such as the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals, Race to Zero, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and The Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Users can demonstrate conformity with the Guidance through either

  • self-determination and self-declaration;
  • confirmation of conformance by parties having an interest in the organization; or
  • an independent third party such as a certification body.

Both Big and Small

The Guidance applies to any organisation which wishes to provide and manage sustainable events and establish or improve an event sustainability management system, from smaller local events to large international events.

BSI says users of such Guidance include:

  • membership sports and recreational clubs;
  • event organizations and event production companies;
  • exhibition, convention and conference centres;
  • event professionals;
  • the meetings and event planner industry;
  • business consulting services and management consulting services;
  • real estate agents and managers; and
  • business services.

Key Changes

The main changes from BS ISO 20121:2012 include extending the list of issues to be identified and evaluated to include human and child rights and social impacts and increasing the focus on the supply chain to also demonstrate sustainability. The changes also adapt to consider hybrid and virtual events.

Other changes include considering the impact of specific issues like climate change when considering the context of any organisation; the additional examples of interested parties like partners and sponsors who are to be engaged with; and new commitments to, for example, report on achievements and lessons learned.

If you would like to discuss anything raised in this blog in more detail, please get in touch with Andy Nolan, Clare O'Toole or your usual Brodies contact.


Andy Nolan


Clare O'Toole