Do event management and sustainability mean the same thing?


On September 25, 2015, world leaders adopted a set of global goals to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all under a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets for the next 15 years, in order to achieve a sustainable world by 2030.

Sustainable development is defined as meeting the “needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. It consists of three pillars that aim to achieve in a balanced way: economic development, social development and environmental protection. These elements are interdependent and are all essential to 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 analyzed all the Sustainable Development Goals to find out which ones have the greatest impact on event management, from planning, to execution and closing. Following this analysis, we selected the SDGs that had a greater impact in the events sector taking into account the specific scope of our organization. The more planning, the less it costs to make the event sustainable.

Organizing sustainable events isn’t on every company’s radar, but there are plenty of reasons to produce them. Businesses should be an example and driver of commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where our business has an impact. In this line there is the ISO 20121 certification, which verifies the sustainable management of all events.

With this certificate, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), an internationally recognized certification group, endorses companies for the adoption of sustainability criteria throughout the event management cycle, as well as its commitment to reduce the footprint carbon.

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

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.

Undoubtedly, another point that helps to achieve this recognition is the definition of the following key areas that all event management should have if it wants to be truly sustainable:

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

– The development of human resources and talents, which favors training as well as professional and personal development, in compliance with the principle of equal opportunity.

– The inclusiveness and co-responsibility of stakeholders, by developing lasting relationships that allow the group to understand the expectations and needs of stakeholders and to carry out actions that generate shared value.

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

– Economic growth linked in particular to the benefits intended for the environment in which the event takes place.

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

– Sustainable purchases, taking into account not only the 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 most significant impacts generated by events.

As part of the certification process for the new ISO standard, it is desirable to also follow a Guide for the organization of sustainable events, which can be a useful tool with recommendations on sustainable criteria throughout the life cycle. of the event, helping to minimize any negative impact on the environment. impact and to promote the social and economic development of the surroundings of the event.

It is a fact that modern event planning must understand that events do not occur in isolation as they affect the local area in various ways. The task of an event management company is to ensure that this impact is as positive as possible. In this way, we will always invest in our planet.

Laura Garzia is the Acciona Cultural Engineering MENA Events Director


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