Governance: controls, measurement, verification

Foundations of Good Governance

The volatile economic climate and too frequent examples of poor corporate management have made governance a common term in the last ten years. For the CSMP governance refers to the organisational approach to manage, conduct, report and assure the positive impact of events. It is based on the fundamental sustainable development principles of accountability and transparency.

Management Controls

Good governance means responsible administrative oversight and sound business stewardship. Strong leaders provide clear guidance and adequate resources, but they also follow up to ensure satisfactory progress. At the outset of any event, specific sustainability objectives and targets should be outlined as defined in the section on a Strategic approach.

Sustainable event administrators have a key role and responsibility to check their event management system regularly with diligence and objectivity. The predefined targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be reviewed often to determine the appropriate performance to event objectives. System weaknesses and non-conformities should be identified, and proactive action taken to fix the problems and causes. System reviews must be documented, evaluated and reviewed by senior management as part of the process to drive system improvement.

BS8901 can serve as one resource for developing an event management system which includes sound practices for management oversight and review.

Measurement

‘You can´t manage what you don’t measure’ is a management maxim especially important for the process of sustainable event management. Many people ask for validation of the business case for sustainability. Measured data and relevant facts can be an important tool used by sustainable event management practicioners to win credibility and to gain
reward and recognition.

Best practice in sustainable event measurement:

Define Areas and Parameters to Measure: Examples might include, carbon emissions, waste diverted from landfill and hours invested in community service. Consult the APEX guidelines or the GRI event supplement for a list of KPIs.

• Identify areas that are significant and/or have uncertain factors.

• Select Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Identify five to ten KPIs, add targeted performance against each KPI. Put these into a one page spreadsheet and track performance change diligently over time.

• Engage with suppliers. Share measurement requirements and process, and put these requirements and timelines in contract.

• Practice process with suppliers. An organisations sustainability champion should have a focus on developing a good toolkit of useful instruments to facilitate operational integration. Examples include checklists, reference books, contract language, supplier and client questionnaires, and measurement spreadsheets. On line platforms such as MeetGreen provide out of the box solutions, and online calculators and benchmarking platforms.

• Review performance against objectives before, during and after an event. Adjust your measurement system as appropriate to better meet the objectives. This is especially important in the early stages of planning when previous base data is unavailable.

• Check the data for accuracy and benchmark the reporting of Incorrect data from the venue can be an issue so try to benchmark the event with similar events to identify anomalies, exceptions or good performance. Consider including levels of confidence for data accuracy.

• Start writing the report before the event. Reporting, like measurement, is a skill that develops with practice and experience. An event sustainability report should be designed before an event and, for large events, a pre-event report should be created and released to help identify areas of concern so that steps can be taken to address them before the event transpires. Consider writing the report as a common project with key stakeholders. This will increase their engagement and improve detail of report.

• Ask for feedback. Get third parties to review your report and measurement data. Both positive and negative critism will help to improve the report and will also indentify areas for future improvement.

Reporting

KPMG survey16 of CEOs reported that 80% of Global Fortune 250 companies now release corporate responsibility data, a figured that has doubled since 2005. CEOs, employees, customers and, increasingly, shareholders are demanding transparent sustainability reporting from
corporations, governments and associations. With this continual increase
in sustainability reporting it is only natural that sustainable event reporting
will increase. Already it is becoming standard for large events such as the
Olympics, World Cup and big UN conferences to create an event sustainability report. A number of large organisations have produced sustainable event reports including Microsoft, MPI, The United States Green Building Council, the European Wind Energy Association and Oracle.

Advanced sustainable event management practitioners can review the
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for guidance on reporting event results. The Global Reporting Initiative is an international NGO and collaborating centre of the United Nations Environment Program that has, over the last ten years, developed the world’s most widely used framework for voluntary sustainability reporting. It is utilised by 78% of the largest 250 companies in the world (G250) and thousands of other organisations.

Part 1 – Reporting Principles and Guidance

• Principles to define report content: Materiality, Stakeholder Inclusiveness, Sustainability Context and Completeness.
• Principles to define report quality: Balance, Comparability, Accuracy, Timeliness, Reliability and Clarity.
• Guidance on how to set the report boundary: What to include and not to include in the report.

Part 2 – Standard Disclosures

• Strategy and profile.
• Management approach.
• Economic, environmental and social performance indicators .

The new GRI event sector supplement due for release in 2012 will provide more specific guidance and performance indicators for event organisers and suppliers.

Organisations leading in sustainability reporting are focusing on creating one integrated report that combines both financial, social and environmental information. This approach brings greater benefits to the organisation and stakeholders by:

• Providing greater clarity about relationships and commitments
• Helping managers to see issues in an interconnected system and to make better decisions
• Deepening decisions with all stakeholders
• Lowering reputational risk

External Verification and Certification

For events with the goal of communicating the sustainability initiative with integrity, an investment in the external review of the event management system is appropriate and beneficial. Working with qualified third parties adds integrity to claims of sustainability commitments. Successful efforts to meet sustainable event certification criteria can bring significant marketing value and can help increase attendance by elevating the profile of events. Although legitimate sustainability standards, such as BS8901, offer the potential to self-certify, the resulting claim of compliance lacks weight as compared to certification from a qualified third party. In addition, external experts can add value to the sustainable event planning methods by discovering weaknesses and opportunities for system
improvement.

With BS8901 and, in the future ISO20121, an independent, accredited auditor will have the task for validating three main things:

• That the management system conforms to the standard.
• That the system is properly implemented, maintained and documented.
• That the system is effective is delivering against the events sustainability policy, objectives, targets and principles.

In the section on Stakeholder Engagement the CSMP explains how to organise teams to provide input and guidance for the development of the event strategy. These same teams can be used to review the governance function of the event management system. In some large events such as the 2012 Olympics, London, the management system is not audited by a third party conventional auditor, but assured by a second party advisory committee consisting of NGOs, business leaders and political leaders.