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Leading change: How Event Cycle shaped COP26's sustainable legacy

Event Cycle's collaboration with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow not only set an unparalleled standard for sustainable event management but also demonstrated a profound commitment to social value, culminating in the achievement of the ISO20121 accreditation. This accolade affirmed COP26's adherence to the highest standards of sustainability and positive legacy, with Event Cycle playing a pivotal role in weaving these elements into the event's very fabric.

Integrating sustainability from the outset

From the beginning, Event Cycle was deeply integrated into the COP26 sustainability team, ensuring that sustainability and social value were not just add-ons but core components of the event planning and execution process. Their expertise in sustainable solutions was crucial in aligning the event with its guiding principles, which included actively managing environmental and social impacts, promoting responsible resource use, and leaving a lasting positive legacy. This comprehensive approach was instrumental in achieving the ISO20121 accreditation. 

By working closely with the event organisers, Identity Group, central UK Government, and a broad spectrum of stakeholders throughout the entire event planning process, Event Cycle ensured that every decision made was scrutinised for its environmental and social implications. This collaborative effort extended to developing and implementing targeted sustainability policies, engaging in responsible sourcing, and dramatically reducing waste through innovative repurposing and donation initiatives. 

Event Cycle also worked with the event’s entire roster of suppliers, designing and delivering education sessions emphasising the guiding sustainable principles of the event, advising on sustainable practices as well as providing detailed information on sustainable material choices.

Legacy and community engagement

A hallmark of Event Cycle's strategy was its focus on creating a tangible, lasting legacy for the local Glasgow community. By overseeing the procurement process, they ensured that material choices and lifecycle tracking were aligned with sustainability goals.Through meticulously coordinated donations and repurposing projects, materials from COP26 were given a new lease on life, directly benefiting local residents, schools, and organisations. 

Notable projects included transforming event materials into valuable community assets such as studio spaces for education and recreation, donating 15,000m2 of carpet to support low-income families, and enhancing local facilities with donated items. Overall, 45 charities benefited from repurposed items from COP26, each contributing to a wide array of causes and community services. These initiatives not only showcased sustainable resource use but also significantly enriched the local community, embodying the principles of ISO20121.

Sustainability tracking and ISO20121 accreditation

A key component of Event Cycle's strategy was the scrupulous carbon tracking and supplier management, involving the onboarding of 260 suppliers into a sustainability tracker. This process not only ensured transparency and accountability but also played a crucial role in COP26's achievement of the ISO20121 accreditation. By capturing the embodied CO2 of materials and demonstrating a comprehensive commitment to sustainability and social impact, Event Cycle helped COP26 set a new benchmark for environmental responsibility in event management.

Conclusion: A Model for Future Events

Event Cycle's involvement in COP26 has not only led to the achievement of ISO20121 accreditation but has also established a benchmark for future events. Their model of integrating sustainability from the planning phase through to post-event legacy actions demonstrates how events of any scale can significantly reduce their environmental impact while maximising social value. As a leader in sustainable event consultancy, Event Cycle continues to work with event organisers worldwide to incorporate these principles into their projects, aiming for a future where every event leaves a positive mark on the planet and its people.


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