Paris 2024 and the Evolution of ISO 20121: Redefining Sustainable Event Management

by | Apr 10, 2023

IOC Paris Sustainability ISO 20121

(Credit: IOC)

The ISO 20121:2012 is an internationally recognized standard that establishes guidelines for event sustainability management systems. The Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games in London introduced the standard as a benchmark for sustainable event management, setting a precedent for future events. The standard assesses the extent to which sustainability is incorporated into vital decisions during all stages of event planning and execution. It has since become a requirement for all Olympic Games, and numerous other significant sports and event organizers have followed suit by adopting it.

IOC’s Corporate Events Receive ISO 20121 Certification

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently received the ISO 20121 certification for its corporate events. This includes events organized and financed by the organization, such as the IOC Sessions, commission meetings, Olympic Day events, the International Athletes’ Forum, and other conferences. An audit was carried out in November 2022 to certify the sustainability management system, which is valid for three years, and includes scheduled annual validation audits and frequent assessments.

“We are very proud to have received the ISO 20121 certification,” says IOC Director for Corporate and Sustainable Development, Marie Sallois. “It recognizes our efforts to manage the social, economic, and environmental impact of our corporate events. We hope this recognition will inspire other organizations within the Olympic Movement, as we strive to make the sports world more sustainable.”

The certification audit for the ISO 20121 was conducted in November 2022 and is effective for three years, with annual validation audits planned and regular assessments. With these measures in place, Paris 2024 aims to set a new standard for sustainable event management and inspire future Olympic Games to prioritize sustainability as well.

IOC’s Sustainability Objectives for Corporate Events

Other sustainability objectives for IOC corporate events may also include sourcing locally produced and organic products, reducing water consumption, and promoting the use of renewable energy sources. The IOC may also prioritize working with suppliers who have sustainable practices and implementing sustainable event management systems. These objectives may be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the latest industry standards and best practices. Additionally, the IOC may collaborate with other organizations and stakeholders to promote sustainability in the events industry and drive collective action toward a more sustainable future.

Paris 2024 and the Evolution of ISO 20121

Paris 2024’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond just the ISO 20121 certification. The organizers have also pledged to minimize their carbon emissions and compensate for more than 100% of their residual emissions through projects that are designed to bring both environmental and social benefits on all five continents.

Paris 2024 is taking its commitment even further and is set to become the first international sporting event to offset more emissions than it creates. This will be achieved by supporting the launch and development of climate-friendly projects in France, where such initiatives are still few and far between. The projects chosen are spread all around the world and meet the most stringent international certification requirements. Starting in 2021, these efforts involved carbon capture projects striving to restore and protect forests and oceans.

“By inspiring the development of ISO 20121, London 2012 provided an opportunity to change the way events are planned and managed,” said David Stubbs, former Head of Sustainability for London 2012. “Since then, the planning and staging of all Olympic Games editions have been aligned with the standard. It has also been widely used beyond the Games. I am delighted and proud that this important Olympic legacy is evolving further with Paris 2024 to address the accelerating global sustainability challenges, raising the bar for sustainable sport and other events worldwide.”

Sustainability as a Key Element of IOC’s Strategic Roadmap

Sustainability is a critical element of the IOC’s strategic roadmap, Olympic Agenda 2020+5. In line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the IOC has committed to reducing its direct and indirect emissions by 50% by 2030.

Beginning in 2030, all Olympic Games must minimize their carbon emissions and offset more than 100% of their residual emissions under contract. Paris 2024 will be the first Olympic Games to align with the Paris Agreement. Subsequently, expecting a reduction of emissions by half compared to the previous Olympic Games.

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