Unless your team already has knowledge on sustainable development and its relation to event management, along with implementing management systems, it is likel they will need training.
Many events practitioners will not have enough sustainability knowledge or events sustainability management system understanding to implement ISO 20121 from a standing start. Of course many countries are highly engaged with sustainable development and their inhabitants have an ‘on the street’ or ‘domestic’ understanding of the principles as they are part of their daily life (recycling, using organic, going green, saving water, using green energy etc). However a more detailed understanding of sustainable development and its relationship to event planning is needed by event practitioners. What is relevant in one’s domestic life may not be the same as an event’s, particularly when an event is held in an area outside of the suburb the event practitioner lives in. Some event practitioners will ‘not know what they don’t know’ and as such it is recommended that professional development training or ‘top ups’ is undertaken. This can be a short workshop on implementing the ISO 20121 or it can be a more detailed course which takes participants through identifying and managing issues, particularly focused on procurement/supply chain and event logistics and operations. (practical application of the tenants of the event sustainability management system).
There are some tools available (generally live online tools) which assist in managing, monitoring, measuring and reporting event sustainability management systems. These guide the user through the process and as you answer the questions and input information, you uncover what you didn’t know you didn’t know! It is a training process by proxy. For those with an understanding of sustainable development principles and an understanding of implementing a management system, using these tools will be simple. For those going from a standing start, coupled with professional development training, you will quickly find your feet and understand not only the elements to a management system and sustainable development principles, but how to implement them in action at your event and in your organisation. See the Sustainable Event Alliance for details of tools available.
Implementing sustainability initiatives in event management and implementing an events sustainability management system is supported by plenty of resources available on the internet and through various organisations and associations. The Sustainable Event Alliance hold many resources, how-to guides and links to other resources. Join up to the SEA to have full access to resources, including a supplier database. Contact the industry association you are a member of and ask if they have resources to help you. The SEA is continuing on an engagement program to set up partnerships with industry associations to that members of the association will get automatic membership to the SEA. Ask your industry association if this has been set up, before joining the SEA as an individual. To talk to your peers around the world on these issues, join the LinkedIn discussion groups. You can find a link to this on the SEA website.
Event management degrees and diplomas are only just starting to address sustainability in their course content. Over the next couple of years more comprehensive information will be included in courses as the lecturers and course content writers become competent in this information and have implemented event sustainability management systems in the field and are able to teach from experience. Once this is set, we will see graduates entering the workforce with knowledge which they can then put into action. Some tertiary institutions run professional development short courses, so look out for these. Ensure those teaching the courses have ‘real-life’ experiences in implementing event sustainability management systems so you can benefit from their toolbox of stories and examples rather than theoretical knowledge.