GRI Launches Event Sustainability Guidance

The Global Reporting Initiative has published sustainability guidance for events, from business meetings to cultural festivals, and the organizers of this year’s Olympics say they’ll be using the guidelines to help meet their environmental goals.

The GRI said the Event Organizers Sector Supplement (EOSS) is suitable for all types and sizes of events, including conferences, exhibitions and sports festivals, and covers the complete event lifecycle from bid to planning, execution and event legacy.

GRI said the guidance will enable organizers to report their sustainability performance in a comparable way, covering impacts to natural environments, communities, and local and global economies. It also said the guidance makes reporting more relevant for event organizers with explanations of how to provide qualitative and quantitative information on sustainability issues.

In addition to commonly reported-on impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and waste, the guidance aims to help event organizers report on more specific issues including attendee travel, legacy of the event, and initiatives taken at the event to promote sustainability and transparency. The supplement can be used to report before or after an event has taken place.

Phil Cumming, corporate sustainability manager for the 2012 London Olympics, said the supplement will play a key role in achieving the sustainability goals of the Games. He said his organization wants to use the guidance to set new standards and create a “knowledge legacy” for more sustainable event management.

Maaike Fleur, senior manager for reporting frameworks at GRI, said that public sustainability reporting is a relatively new concept for event organizers. Sustainable Event Alliance president Meegan Jones agreed, saying the industry has needed such guidance for a long time.

Sebastien Tondeur, CEO of MCI and Chairman of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), said both his company and his association are already using the supplement to improve their sustainability initiatives. He said the guidance will make it easier for the events industry to be transparent about sustainability strategies and events.

Volunteers from events companies, governments, labor and civil society organizations helped develop the supplement through a working group. They then held two public comment periods and considered the consultation feedback before finalizing the guidance.

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