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ISO 20121:2012 Event Sustainability Management Systems (requirements with guidance for use) is suitable for ensuring that events, ranging from local celebrations to “mega events” (e.g. Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) leave behind a positive legacy on the environment and its natural resources. The standard is relevant to the entire event industry supply chain including organizers, event managers, stand builders, caterers, hoteliers, travel companies and logistics suppliers.

Conferences, concerts, sporting events, exhibitions and festivals can offer a wide range of public, local community and economic benefits. However, staging an event can also generate negative economic, environmental and social impacts, such as material waste, energy consumption and strains on local communities.

ISO 20121 provides the framework for identifying the potentially negative social, economic and environmental impacts of events by removing or reducing them, and capitalizing on more positive impacts through improved planning, processes and traceability.

Among the stakeholders who have provided input to the development of the standard are members of the sustainability team for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The Head of Sustainability, David Stubbs, comments: “London 2012 is proud to have been the catalyst for ISO 20121. This is a piece of legacy with the potential to transform how events around the world consider their economic, environmental and social impacts.”

The standard takes the management systems approach well-known to thousands of organizations worldwide through the success of standards such as ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management).

ISO 20121 has been created by the MICE industry for the MICE industry. More than 30 countries and liaison bodies participated in the work.

First ISO 20121 Certification

SGS Helps Plaza Athenee Bangkok, A Royal Meridien Hotel become the world's first ISO 20121 certified hotel

SGS certified the first hotel in the MICE industry in 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.

SGS certified Plaza Athénée Bangkok, a Royal Méridien Hotel located in Bangkok, Thailand, against the ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management Systems Standard for the event industry. The initiative was supported by the Office of Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization) or TCEB. TCEB is encouraging Thailand MICE operators to gain ISO20121 certification by providing support to operators with subsidy of 70 percent of the total fees for ISO 20121 accreditation.

As an individual hotel, and as part of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, ISO 20121 certification testifies to the hotel’s commitment to doing more to consume less and thereby care for the planet. It also complements the company’s global focus on reducing energy use by 30% and water consumption by 20% by 2020.

“We are very pleased to have successfully implemented ISO 20121 because we believe that economic growth and the wellbeing of society are inextricably tied to the health of the environment,” explained Ms. ChooLeng Goh, General Manager of the Plaza Athénée Bangkok, a Royal Méridien Hotel. “This demonstrates how we embrace our responsibility for environmental, social and economic stewardship and are committed to integrating these practices and sustainability principles into our core business strategy.”

According to Mr. Montree Tangtermsirikul, General Manager of System Certification Service, SGS (Thailand) Co., Ltd., ISO 20121 standards are important for business operations in Thailand because considering its event venues, tourist areas, and hotels. Thailand has the potential to host the broadest range of events. Given the continued growth of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Convention, Exhibitions) business, which is considered one of the country’s main revenue-generating industries, the application of ISO 20121 to this sector will elevate its status internationally. ISO 20121 is the standard that measures the sustainability of events by focusing on their social, environmental and economic management. It also focuses on social responsibility, ensuring those involved work with integrity and transparency. Consequently, the ISO 20121 standard will be a channel for propelling Thailand’s MICE business to a level capable of competing internationally.