News article

World Athletics system awarded ISO recognition

May 18 2023

World Athletics has revealed that its Sustainable Event Management System (SEMS) – which the organisation developed to embed sustainability into its events – has achieved International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) recognition.

World Athletics system awarded ISO recognition

The SEMS has received certification for the ISO 20121 standard, which details a comprehensive framework for tackling priority sustainability risks and opportunities. The standard was developed in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

ISO 20121 addresses the reduction of costs, limiting carbon emissions and waste, managing the biodiversity of venues, respecting human rights and achieving an inclusive workforce. The certification was awarded by BSI following a rigorous two-phase audit process. 

In order to achieve the certification, an organisation must demonstrate that its management system has considered financial, economic, social and environmental issues surrounding its operations. 

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “Having this robust independent review of the processes and systems we’re putting in place lends a lot of credibility to our efforts in making our events more sustainable. It shows that the path we’re creating for all our events is the right one.”

World Athletics’ system was introduced to the organisation’s licensed one-day meetings, tour events, label road race organisers and organising committees of upcoming World Athletics Series events in November 2021. The system was introduced alongside the Athletics for a Better World (ABW) Standard, which measures and scores an event’s achievement in sustainable delivery. 

The Athletics for a Better World Standard is in its second pilot year and will be tiered, with platinum, gold, silver and bronze achievement levels. These goals will have to be met as part of the evaluation process of all World Athletics-licensed events from next year. 

Cities bidding to host World Athletics events will also be required to commit to a gold-level achievement, putting sustainability at the forefront. 

Organisers of over 300 one-day competition series events and label road races have already been introduced to the system and the new standard since it was unveiled. A number of events piloted the system and standard in 2022 and more than 50 are expected to pilot them both in 2023. The system is also being incorporated into the delivery of all World Athletics Championships and increasingly into all World Athletics Series events.

The team behind the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest is the first Local Organising Committee to fully embrace the standard, while organisers of next year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow will also strive towards achieving these environmental ambitions. 

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