COP26 has achieved independent international recognition for its approach to delivering a sustainable event, attaining the ISO20121 certificate.

ISO20121 is an international standard, which sets out the requirements to establish, maintain and continually improve an event sustainability management system. It requires event organisers to demonstrate consideration to all key financial, economic, social and environmental factors related to planning and operations.

Organisations adopting ISO20121 are required to demonstrate that they are minimising potential negative impacts on the environment, communities and local economy – maximising the positive impacts and leaving a legacy to be proud of.

Alok Sharma, president of COP26,  said: “Sustainability was at the core of COP26 and I am proud that the UK has added yet another impressive standard of environmental compliance to the event with the ISO2021 certification.

“To build on our work with ISO20121, COP26 will also be a carbon neutral event and become the first COP to have achieved PAS2060 validation on carbon neutrality. This will make good on our priority to reduce and avoid emissions at the highest level.”

Large “in-person” events can put a strain on local resources such as water and energy, and create significant waste, or tensions related to culture or proximity with neighbouring communities. COP26 was able to illustrate, using the ISO20121 framework, its commitment to sustainability and that the event was managed in a sustainable way.

To attain the certification, the UK Government appointed Arup and Crowberry as technical sustainability advisors. BSI, British Standards Institution, provided an independent audit for certification of compliance.

Sustainability was embedded throughout the delivery of COP26, through the adoption and integration of the COP26 seven Sustainability Governing Principles:

  1. Actively manage potential impacts on the environment and local community and identify opportunities to deliver environmental and social value
  2. Provide an accessible and inclusive setting for all
  3. Encourage healthy living
  4. Ensure a safe and secure atmosphere
  5. Encourage more sustainable behaviour
  6. Promote the use of responsible sources and responsible use of resources throughout the supply chain
  7. Leave a positive legacy

Additionally, the COP26 Unit has worked collaboratively with HMG teams, delivery partners and other stakeholders to embed and demonstrate how they have robustly considered all dimensions of sustainability. This includes a detailed assessment within all the operational delivery areas of the event including the Blue Zone and Green Zone Venues, Transport, Security, Suppliers, Catering and Health and Safety.