Agency head attacks BS8901 critics

Seventeen Events managing director Andrew Williams took on critics of the BS8901 sustainable events standard during his seminar session at yesterday’s Confex show and urged his agency peers to defy the cynics. Williams first attacked accusations that BS8901 is overly complex and unworkable: “People say that [the standard] produces red tape that will slow them down, but it depends how organised you are as an agency,” Williams said. “Events always require administration and this simply adds a small layer to that. It does require time, and time is money, but this is truly an investment for the future – the sustainability agenda is not a trend, it is here to stay.” Seventeen was one of the agencies that trialled the standard for BSI last year and Williams added that the company has worked with the likes of the Guardian Media Group and the MS Society to create certified events. Elsewhere, the agency head questioned agencies avoiding BS8901 because it requires them to reveal their working practices. “The standard asks businesses to share working practices and this has some throwing their hands up in horror,” Williams went on. “This concept is out of date. 20 years ago I might be very pleased with having a big, fat book of contacts, but those days are gone. If you want information, almost everything is now just an internet search away.” Williams did concede however that BS8901 – which currently operates on a self-certification basis – would gain increased recognition if and when it becomes externally audited. “I’m sure at some point auditing will happen and BS8901 will definitely mean more when it does,” he concluded.

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