ISO 20121

ISO 20121


ISO 20121 is an international standard that defines the requirements for an event sustainability management system.

This standard arises from the new Project Committee ISO/PC 250 "Sustainability in event management" which involved more than 30 countries as participating members or observer members.

The standard, in addition to being based on the consolidated principles of management systems, incorporates some characteristic elements of ISO 26000 .

It is therefore neither a checklist, nor a guide, nor a performance specification for sustainable events.

Its first application took place on the occasion of the London 2012 Olympics.

By event, the standard means an " assembly scheduled in time and space where an experience is created and/or a message is conveyed " (CSQA translation), therefore it is aimed at various types of events, from sporting events to webinars.

A particular aspect of ISO 20121 is the integration of the PDCA model (Plan, Do, Check, Act) typical of management systems with the life cycle of events (from conception to closure and post-closure of an event).


The main requirements of the standard are:
  • Politics
  • Analysis of the reference context : understanding of the relevant issues, knowledge of the needs and expectations of the interested parties, purpose of the system, reference principles...
  • Management commitment and leadership: responsibilities, roles...
  • Service planning , objectives, targets
  • Resources , skills, communication, documentation
  • Activities and Operational Control
  • Performance evaluation (including internal audits)
  • Improvement

In the appendix (Annex A) a guide to the standard has been included which is very useful for understanding the requirements and therefore for its implementation. Among the notable indications:
  • Those reported in point A.2 relating to the purpose: an event cannot be declared compliant with the standard, but the management system. Consequently, the scope of certification must clarify whether the organization's system is applicable to an event (e.g.: a meeting, a single sporting event), to a specific type of event (e.g.: Annual Gelato Fair), or to all the events managed
  • Those relating to communication: communication is not only towards the outside but also internally. For external communication it is necessary to define, implement and maintain active procedures with suppliers and interested parties

As in all management standards, even in this one, the organization must have clearly identified and assessed the applicability of the legislation in force.

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