It would be easy to plan an event without any consideration of its impact on the environment. But if we all take part in wanton, environmentally hedonistic events management planning then events will start to appear in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Sustainable events management, which is also known as “event greening”, is a process used to produce events which take into consideration environmental, social and economic issues. These considerations are made from the inception of the event all the way through to the deliver, and involve all stakeholders along the way. This cradle-to-grave approach with all stakeholders involved is imperative to the delivery of sustainable events.

The British Standard (BS 8901) is a set of protocols designed to address the specific sustainability issues presented by the events industry and it details the procedures that events managers can employ so that they can run sustainable events.

The primary objective of the British Standard (BS 8901) is to make event organizers aware and understand the environmental, societal, and economic issues that their events pose and put in place measures which minimize any negative effects.

Requirements of the British Standard

The key requirements of the British Standard are:

• Sustainability Policy
• Issue identification and evaluation
• Stakeholder identification and engagement
• Objectives, targets and plans
• Performance against principles of sustainable development
• Operational controls
• Competence and training
• Supply chain management
• Communication
• Monitoring and measurement
• Corrective and preventive action
• Management System audits
• Management Review

When considering these requirements, attention must be paid to all tiers of stakeholders in events, namely:

• Tier 1 – Event Owners – This is the person who commissions the event and holds overall responsibility for the event
• Tier 2 – Event Organizers – This person (likely to be you!) will have overall responsibility for the management of the event on the ground
• Tier 3 – Suppliers – This tier encompasses all people who provide services and products for your events, including couriers, printers, caterers, etc.

As mentioned above, involvement of all of these stakeholders is imperative. Consider sustainability like a chain: If there is a weak or missing link in the chain, then it doesn’t serve purpose.

When you are preparing the requirements for the British Standard, you should seek to apply the Plan-Do-Check-Act principle.

During the planning phase, you’re looking to put in place your sustainability policy, identify and evaluate potential issues, identify stakeholders and their engagement with processes during your events, and set the objectives and desired outcomes of applying the British Standard to your event.  

During the Implementation phase, you are looking to put in place the operational controls and key responsibilities, determine current staff competence and provide training where necessary, manage your supply chain in line with your objectives and desired outcomes, and communicate with all stakeholders every step of the way so as not to lose sight of the goal in mind.

During the Check and Act phases, you should be monitoring and measuring the success of your implementation stage and, where there are deficiencies, looking to put in place preventative and corrective action, continuously audit, and review and learn from the process.

Benefits of the British Standard

There are many benefits to applying the British Standard to your sustainable events.

• The British Standard is a widely-recognized standard
• You can have confidence that this wide-recognition will deliver consistent results
• There’ll be more engagement with key stakeholders every step of the way
• There is reduced risk to reputational damage through consistent application
• Reduced operational costs by applying the same standard to all projects
• Improved efficiency
• Effective feed-back system which continuously audits processes and put things right before they go wrong
• The British Standard gives a message to your employees and the world that you are serious about providing environmentally sustainable events.

If you certify your organization with the British Standard, your customers can rest assured that you have been externally audited by an experience and competent authority and have demonstrated your ability to deliver sustainable events solutions.

Take-away Points

1. The British Standard is a sustainable event management protocol which takes into consideration environmental, social, and economic factors
2. It seeks to engage all stakeholders to provide sustainable, long-term event delivery with as few negative effects as possible
3. There are many requirements to the British Standard – they requirements are implemented using the Plan-Do-Check-Act principle
4. Applying this principle with different tiers of stakeholders in mind allows you to deliver sustainable events
5. There are many benefits to following the British Standard; You should consider getting your organization certified so your customers can rest assured about your delivery of sustainable events.


Craig Ineson is a law graduate of the University of Liverpool, current student of international business law at master’s level, a passionate restaurant reviewer, and experienced content writer.
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