Launch of GRI event organizers reporting guidelines

Launch of new event reporting guidelines from GRI

In continuation on our series of posts about reporting, we have a great announcement to make: From today event organizers around the world now have a new tool that can help them to report on economic, environmental and social sustainability issues.

The new guidelines have been developed by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and a group of volunteers (including me) from events companies, governments, labour and civil society organizations. Together we have worked together for 2 years to develop the guidance. The public then responded to two Public Comment Periods, before the Working Group took the consultation feedback into account and finalized the Supplement.

Today’s new Event Organizers Sector Supplement (EOSS) will help event organizers to report their sustainability performance in a comparable way. The sustainability reporting guidance, specifically tailored for the events sector, aims to make reporting more relevant for event organizers by defining how to provide qualitative and quantitative information on sustainability issues. In addition to more widely applicable issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and waste, the guidance helps 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.

Why report?

It is becoming increasingly important, and is often required, to disclose an organizations impacts (see our post about reporting trends). With trust at an all time low, Stakeholders require more transparency and accountability from corporations, associations and governments. Local communities and event attendees are increasingly interested to know the sustainability strategies behind events and the resulting impacts.

Who is it for?

The Event Organizers Sector Supplement provides reporting guidance that is suitable for all types and sizes of events. The guidance covers the complete project life cycle of an event, from bid to planning, execution and, finally, post-event – including the issue of event legacy. The Supplement can be used to report before or after an event has taken place. So an agency like MCI could use it for its own company report or for one of its events.

What are the benefits?

According to Sebastien Tondeur, our CEO here at MCI and Chairman of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), “transparent reporting is fundamental to organization success and growth.” At MCI we have seen some of the associated benefits include:

  • Brand enhancement and associated economic benefits
  • Financial savings resulting from increased monitoring and evaluation of resource use
  • Increased understanding of potential economic, environmental and social impacts
  • Ability to benchmark and compare data
  • Risk avoidance

Reporting is also about sharing best practices and can enhance learning for event organizers not yet so familiar with sustainability strategy and reporting. This can help to advance innovation and the event experience.

So what exactly is it?

The Event Organizers Sector Supplement is a guidance document that enables event organizers to provide qualitative and quantitative information on their sustainability performance. The Supplement is an amended and expanded version of GRI’s G3.1 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. It has three sections that provide guidance on:

  • Profile: How to disclose your events or organisations strategy, profile, and governance structures.
  • Management Approach: How an event organiser addresses a given set of sustainability topics in order to provide context for understanding performance in a specific area.
  • Performance Indicators: Specific indicators that elicit comparable information on the economic, environmental, and social performance of the organization and/or event.

Is it very complicated?

Yes and no. Its up to you. Currently GRI recommend that you report based on one of three application levels: A, B, C.

  • For C level: an organizer needs to use report fully on at least 10 Performance Indicators, either core or additional, including at least one from each Indicator Dimension (Economic, Environmental, and Social).
  • For B Level: an organizer needs to report on Profile Disclosures, Management Approach (DMAs), and at least 20 Performance Indicators, including at least one from each Indicator Category (Economic, Environmental, Labor Practices and Decent Work, Human Rights, Society and Product Responsibility).
  • A level is the works: basically you need to report on all aspects and indicators in the guidelines.

Where do I start? Do you have any examples

Michael and I have written over 25 reports for MCI and our clients, here are some recommendations with examples:

  • For Beginners: Look at the guidelines and choose a handful of performance indicators that you think are relevant and useful to disclose. You don’t need to do a full C level to start. The most important thing is to start, and the guidelines will help give you structure, indicators and advice. Here are a couple of examples:

o UN Global Compact Leaders Summit Report

o Shanghai Fashion Week Sustainability Report

  • For organizations who have started to report on their events or organisations, aim at doing a C level report. Consider getting an application level check from GRI.

o MCI 2010 Sustainability Report

o UN COP15 Climate Change Conference

  • For advanced reporters, go for gold: Get it verified and assured.

o London 2012 Olympics Sustainability Report

o 2010 Vancouver Olympics

For more information and to download the guidelines

In a future post we will look at best practice in reporting, verification and share a few tips and tricks…

In the meantime, please share insights and experiences, concerns and questions, related to reporting event impacts.


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  2. […] We use the GRI EOSS guidelines a lot in our work. They help to provide structure, and while they may at first seem very complicated – you can use as a reference sheet. More info here: […]

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