IFES – Fast Tracking Sustainable Events

22.02.2023 | IFES Press Releases, News | 0 comments

The fast-paced ‘build-up, break-down and move on’ nature of exhibitions and events does not naturally lend itself to a sustainable working methodology, but the need for sustainable practice to become a core element of our daily business activities is undeniable, and increasingly urgent.

IFES Sustainability Committee is dedicated to driving sustainability throughout the Association membership, and the industry as a whole.


ISO 20121 Certification

IFES is excited to announce that in collaboration with 2bdifferent and fwd: they have assembled the next convoy for ISO 2012.1 training which will commence on 22nd March, 2023.


With ISO 20121, a management system for the event industry can be integrated into everyday business in a practical and reliable manner, taking ecological, economic and social issues into consideration. In addition to a company compliance audit, the process includes the development of a sustainability mission statement, the consideration of a sustainable supply chain and the development of a health and safety policy. The certificate, according to ISO 20121, also serves as suitable proof of a sustainable orientation of business operations in public and private tenders.


Since the IFES World Summit in Amsterdam in June 2022, the Sustainability Team’s effort has been focused on information-sharing in pursuit of sustainability certification, specifically ISO 20121 on event sustainability management in collaboration with consultants such as 2bdifferent and Green Evénements.  An IFES initiative to encourage group pursuit of certification was launched in the latter half of 2022 to make the journey more cohesive, collaborative and cost-effective. This initiative has been joined by the German Association fwd: as a joint program, incorporating both Association’s members.


The initial training convoy of 11 companies from the Exhibition, Catering and Agency communities began on 8th December 2022 providing participants with a structured Sustainability Framework and a competitive edge in the marketplace. The term “convoy” refers to the methodology of joining association members together into project groups to develop the introduction to a corporate sustainability process in joint workshops. The convoy is supplemented by an individual consulting package running parallel to the team workshops.


“The ISO certification is an invitation to our community to get things started, to show our stakeholders (clients, employees, political institutions, scientific bodies etc.) that our industry is committed to defining a way to meet goals in a common and certified, thus believable and transparent manner,” says Sarah Chew, Chair of the IFES Sustainability Committee. “What could be more pertinent than having sustainable practices in place to get started and understanding what best practices can be put in place towards being a more sustainable company and industry?”


The longer-term plan is to identify training partners who can assist IFES members to achieve this vital certification regionally, and IFES is inviting expressions of interest from relevant experts around the world to get involved in taking this movement forward in a global scale.




“Governments and organisations around the world are giving greater focus to sustainability. More countries are expecting listed companies to embark on mandatory or more stringent sustainability reporting. Increasingly, we are finding clients or prospects asking us for our Sustainability Policy in their procurement processes, Event Organisers are striving to make their events more sustainable, and our employees want to work for a more sustainable company. For those who are still adopting a wait-and-see approach, I urge you to re-think and take the first step,” says Sarah.


The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive adopted on 21st April, 2022, increases the pressure, stipulating that all large companies will be required to publish a sustainability report from 2023 with other listed companies following suit in 2026. The future of the events and exhibitions industry depends on compliance and strong alignment with the Parisian agreement.


Known for their stance as thought leaders and early adopters, the International Federation for Exhibition and Events Services (IFES) has been focused on this issue for some time, with the internal Sustainability Committee advising and driving compliance.


The Sustainability Committee envisions an eco-social market economy, finding a balance where:

  • Market economy creates profitability.
  • Social commitment creates attraction and perspective.
  • Ecological roadmaps to avoid, reduce and compensate/offset own carbon footprint to create carbon neutrality.


“We need to understand that responsibilities toward achieving sustainable events are only possible when all stakeholders take action in their respective areas of responsibility. Each of our partners along the value chain works as part of a holistic customer journey and should undertake sustainability as a joint task to make an impact,” adds Sarah.


“Collectively, we can move the needle. If every IFES member adopts a sustainable work process today, we can be a more sustainable industry tomorrow. Let us commit, collaborate and start turning our impact on the environment into a positive one from now on.”








Contact details:

IFES AISBL, Rue de l’Amazone 2, B 1050 Brussels; www.ifesnet.org.
For further inquiries please contact:
Robyn D’Alessandro,  [email protected] , +27 67 684 3376


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