This section follows the four key phases involved in developing and implementing the environmental strategy and action plan for a major event:

  • planning
  • before the event
  • during the event
  • after the event.

A flow chart of the four key phases and the steps within each phase is set out in figure one.

Figure One: Four phases to greening an event 2

Figure 1: Four phases to greening an event

This flow chart shows the four phases involved in greening an event. The planning phase includes gaining commitment and buy-in, identifying key stakeholders, assessing the event’s environmental impacts, determining the scope, completing a baseline assessment and developing an environmental strategy and action plan. Phase two, before the event, includes implementing the action plan and monitoring and communicating. Phase three, during the event, includes delivering the event and measuring the event’s impacts. The final phase, post event, includes assessing and promoting the legacy of the event.

1.1  Phase one – Planning

Planning lays the foundation for a successful environmental strategy and action plan, and involves six steps:

  1. Gain commitment and buy-in to reduce environmental impacts
  2. Identify key stakeholders
  3. Assess the environmental impacts
  4. Determine the scope
  5. Complete a baseline assessment, if appropriate
  6. Develop an environmental strategy and action plan, including targets.

a. Gain commitment and buy-in to reduce environmental impacts

Before starting to develop a plan, it is essential to gain the commitment and buy-in of those responsible for implementing the event. Without the full commitment of the event owner3 , event organisers4 and decision makers5 , it will not be possible to implement many of the initiatives needed to reduce environmental impacts. A commitment to greening initiatives by these key players also signals to other stakeholders that it is important.

To secure commitment, it must be demonstrated that greening:

  • is important for the success of the event
  • can help enhance attendees’ experiences
  • meets attendees’ expectations
  • meets a growing demand for more environmentally responsible products and services
  • will not place an unnecessary financial burden on the event, and may even reduce costs.

At this early stage, it is not necessary for key players to agree to specific targets and actions, but to the general principle of making an event more environmentally responsible.

b. Identify key stakeholders

Identifying and involving key stakeholders early is critical to a successful greener event. Many stakeholders can make a valuable contribution to developing and implementing the strategy and action plan, especially those also involved in delivering the event.

Table one indentifies stakeholders who could be part of developing and implementing the environmental strategy and action plan.

Table one: Examples of stakeholders

Key stakeholders:

  • event organiser
  • venue owner(s)
  • local government
  • central government
  • sponsors
  • suppliers/contractors
  • regional tourism operators
  • participants
  • spectators.

Other stakeholders:

  • local community
  • local iwi
  • interest groups such as local and international non-governmental organisations
  • sports and cultural organisations
  • advertising and merchandise providers
  • accommodation providers
  • transport operators
  • media and broadcasters.

All of the above stakeholders can play an important role in promoting and endorsing greening actions associated with the event. Many stakeholders may already have their own environmental programmes and strategies in place, which can assist in the planning process.

A mapping exercise will help define what is needed or expected from each stakeholder, and assess what stakeholders need in return. Section 3.1 describes the stakeholder mapping exercise in more detail.

c. Assess the environmental impacts

Various factors influence what kind of environmental impacts an event may have. These include:

  • the type of event
  • whether it takes place at a single location or venue, or across a range of places
  • the duration of the event – whether one day, one week or one month
  • the time of year the event takes place
  • where participants come from and how far they need to travel 
  • the food and beverages provided at the event
  • whether significant merchandising is involved.

The key areas in which environmental impacts are most likely to emerge are:

Procurement –what goods and services are purchased for the event, and from where
Wasteand resource use – the type and volume of waste products generated as a result of the event
Transport – how people travel to and from the event
Energy – the kinds of energy used (eg, fuel and electricity) and where they are used
Construction and temporary activities – whether buildings (permanent or temporary) need to be constructed, upgraded or retrofitted
Water – the likely demand for water (eg, for showers or for watering grass)  
Greenhouse gas emissions the likely quantities of emissions generated by the event.

Refer to Section two for guidance and examples of objectives, targets and actions in these key areas.

When assessing the potential environmental effects associated with an event and how they might be managed, it is important to understand the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). Refer to Section 3.2 of this guide for an overview of how the RMA and other key legislation can affect the planning and delivery of a greener event. 

d. Determine the scope

It is impossible for an environmental strategy and action plan to address every conceivable environmental impact associated with an event. Therefore, it is important that both the strategy and plan clearly identify what they do and do not cover.

Before starting work on the strategy, identify which impacts are:

  • directly within the control of the event organisers (eg, waste)
  • outside of event organiser’s direct control, but able to be influenced by them (eg, transport services to and from an event)
  • largely outside of the event organiser’s control or influence (eg, international flights).

The plan should give priority to addressing the first two kinds of environmental impacts: those that are directly within the control of event organisers, or which they can influence. 

It may be possible for event organisers to have greater influence over certain environmental matters than they anticipate. For example, organisers can influence accommodation suppliers by choosing or recommending accommodation with Qualmark Enviro-Award status (where available). For a major event, this may be an incentive for accommodation providers to seek certification.

qualmark Environ-Gold

By choosing venues, locations and suppliers that have organisational environmental policies and are undertaking greening actions, the event can utilise and build on these existing initiatives. This can save time and money.

To help prioritise the environmental impacts, the strategy and action plan need to consider issues:

  • with the most visual impact – eg, waste or traffic congestion
  • with the most potential for cost savings or reductions – eg, waste and energy
  • associated with the particular event – eg, water quality may be significant for a water-based event, whereas greenhouse gas emissions may be significant for a motor sport event
  • of local or regional significance – eg, water use in Auckland. It may be helpful to discuss such potential issues with the relevant council
  • of national and international interest – refer to the Ministry for the Environment’s website for information about the natural environment, built environment, climate change, resource efficiency, and environmental governance.


Greenwashing means misleading consumers about a company’s environmental practices or about the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Information about common greenwashing ‘sins’ and how to avoid them is available at

The Commerce Commission’s green marketing guidelines provide information on how to avoid making misleading or untrue claims about your event under the Fair Trading Act.

e. Complete a baseline assessment

If an event is held regularly and past data is available, it is useful to undertake a baseline assessment of the event’s current and past environmental impacts. Used in conjunction with measurements taken while the event is underway, the baseline assessment can demonstrate improvements in environmental performance over time and provide the basis for success stories.

If the event is held regularly at different international locations, data gathered by previous hosts may offer valuable insights. For example, the Green Goal report produced following the 2006 FIFA World Cup provides useful information about greening activities undertaken at the event and how successful they were.

Refer to Section 1.5 (b) for more information about measurement.

f. Develop an environmental strategy and action plan

Once steps ‘a – e’ are complete, the environmental strategy and action plan can be developed. Templates are provided in Section 3.3.

The environmental strategy
The strategy needs to set out what is going to be done to reduce the environmental impacts of hosting an event, and why this should be done. It should provide:

An overview of the event Key information such as dates, venue and expected number of attendees. An overview of any precedents or expectations set by previous events is also valuable.
Potential environmental impacts Overview of identified impacts the event is likely to cause (see Phase 1 ‘c’).
Scope The focus areas that will be covered in the strategy (eg, waste, transport) and those which are not included.
Environmental aim What the strategy aims to achieve.
Guiding principles The principles used when developing the strategy and action plan. These can be useful when communicating objectives, as they prevent absolute statements which may be difficult to live up to (see below for examples).
Objectives How the aim of the strategy will be achieved. Ideally, there should be an objective for each chosen focus area (eg, waste, transport, energy).
Targets A measurable statement against which success can be measured (eg, x per cent of waste diverted from landfill).
Stakeholders Key people (eg, partners, suppliers) involved in ensuring the strategy is delivered.
Monitoring and reporting How progress on implementing the strategy will be checked and reported on before and during the event.
Measuring success How the successful implementation of the strategy will be measured.
Risk mitigation The identified risks and how they will be managed.

Examples of guiding principles

  • Reasonable efforts will be made to reduce environmental impacts that fall within the direct scope of the event, where it is cost effective to do so.
  • Cost effectiveness: actions undertaken will focus on being cost effective and have a reasonable payback periodacknowledging that investment may be required.
  • Legacy initiatives that provide a longer-term benefit after the event will be encouraged.

When thinking about ways to make a greener event, think long term: there may be opportunities to create a valuable legacy after the event. For example, installing solar water heating can provide ongoing future benefits at the venue.  Similarly, a recycling and composting system set up at a venue can be used again.

The action plan
The action plan sets out how the aims, objectives and targets identified in the strategy will be achieved. It needs to clearly link to the strategy. For each of the chosen focus areas, it should set out:

Why the action is important For example, why is it important to reduce waste at this event?
Any initiatives already being undertaken For example, certain venues may already have composting and recycling facilities in place.
Objective and targets For each of the focus areas outlined in the strategy.
Actions required to achieve the targets The steps that must be taken to achieve the objectives and targets.
Responsibility The person(s) or organisation(s) responsible for undertaking each action.
Timeframes When each action will be completed.
Measure of success How targets will be measured to demonstrate they have been achieved. The measurement may be quantifiable and/or qualitative.
Funding requirements Potential costs of actions, and any funding required. At this stage, further feasibility studies may be required to determine the potential costs and/or funding requirements.

Action plan tip
The action plan needs to take account of those things that are already happening. For example, if the venue is already energy efficient, this should be noted to demonstrate sound procurement processes. It will also explain why certain activities, which may be expected, are not included in the plan.

Setting targets
Setting targets is essential for measuring success. It is important to consider the kind of measurement that will be possible, what data can be collected, and any systems that may need to be put in place at the outset to enable data collection.

Climate change is an issue of global importance. As public awareness grows, so too do expectations that greenhouse gas emissions will be effectively measured and reduced. It is important to carefully consider options for dealing with the greenhouse gas emissions arising from major sporting, cultural and community events.

Funding and sponsorship
Adequate funding for greening initiatives is crucial to ensure the objectives set out in the strategy and action plan can be implemented and achieved.

However, it is also important to consider the cost effectiveness of proposed actions; otherwise, large amounts of money may be spent to achieve only small environmental gains. Spending on environmental actions needs to be appropriate and realistic for the event. Actions that have longer-term benefits (eg, establishing permanent recycling facilities at a venue) may be more cost effective than one-off actions that may appear initially less costly. Considering the expectations of stakeholders may help determine whether to undertake an action.

It may be possible to apply for funding from organisations such as the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and local councils. Sponsorship is another potential source of funding. A growing number of businesses have well-developed environmental responsibility policies and seek to align themselves positively with such initiatives by becoming sponsors of, or suppliers to, major events that have a ‘green’ or community focus.

Examples of major event strategies and action plans

1.2 Phase two – Before the event

During this period, the targets and actions identified during the planning phase are investigated and – providing they are cost effective – implemented in readiness for the event.

a. Training

The implementation phase is a good time to think about what training staff and volunteers may require. Ensuring these people understand the planned greening actions is important, as they are the ones who will interact with attendees or spectators. Training staff and volunteers to be ‘green champions’ on site can increase the likelihood of attendees participating in greening activities, such as recycling, and continuing such activities in their personal lives.

Green volunteers

  • Selection – The ability to role-model green behaviour should be a criterion for selecting volunteers.
  • Training– Ensuring volunteers understand the event’s environmental strategy should be a key priority during training.
  • Management – Staff who will manage volunteers also need to understand and support the greening initiatives.

b. Monitoring progress

Monitoring progress throughout the implementation process will provide confidence that things are progressing to plan. When and how progress is to be reported should be covered in the strategy and action plan; so too should the groups (eg, venue owners, suppliers) responsible for providing necessary information.

1.3 Phase three – During the event

In this phase, the event takes place and the benefits from the environmental strategy and action plan are realised.

During the event, the focus should be on:

  • overseeing activities – for example, ensuring recycling stations are working efficiently and being used correctly by attendees
  • engaging visitors and the wider public through signage, loud-speaker announcements and promotions
  • measuring impacts – capturing key data to demonstrate that targets have been met and aims achieved.

1.4 Phase four – After the event

Without adequate post-event analysis and assessment, it is difficult to determine how successful greening actions have been and what lessons have been learnt.

During this phase, the focus should be on:

  • analysing the data collected against targets set in the strategy and plan
  • reviewingthe action plan and receiving feedback from stakeholders about what worked well and what could have been done differently
  • providing feedback to suppliers and venue owners so they can improve their services for future events
  • communicating the results to the event owner, attendees, future organisers of the event, and other groups interested in the actions undertaken.

It is important to share the greening successes and lessons learnt to:

  • reduce negative public scrutiny and greenwash claims
  • support future major events in New Zealand that seek to reduce environmental impacts
  • promote New Zealand as a green tourist destination.

1.5 Other key aspects to consider

Both communications and measurement need to be considered throughout the four phases.

a. Communications

Hosting a successful greener event provides an opportunity to:

  • promote the environmental and economic benefits of environmental responsibility to communities and businesses
  • raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage behaviour change. With over 50 per cent of New Zealanders known to be interested in learning more about how to protect the environment,6 greening initiatives are likely to be well received by attendees and the wider public
  • reinforce New Zealand’s ‘100% Pure’ tourism branding, which is important to the country’s tourism marketing and exporting firms.

Therefore, communicating greening actions should play an integral part in the event’s overall communication plan, and be incorporated into all communications about the event.

Tips for communicating objectives

Be transparent about what greening actions are possible for the event.

Share the environmental strategy and action plan with communities and businesses well before the event to ensure key messages are clear, consistent and transparent. Consider inviting businesses to provide input and feedback – they may have good ideas and be keen to take ownership of some parts of the plan. They can also help by communicating key messages through their own networks.

Keep messages clear and simple so they can be easily understood. 

Offer incentives to encourage the community, businesses and attendees to participate in greening activities. For example, offer awards for ‘greener’ behaviour, such as receiving a free drink on display of a public transport ticket.

Train volunteers and staff to be ‘green champions’ so they can communicate key messages to attendees at the event. For example, they could wear T-shirts that have greening messages on them or encourage the correct use of the recycling system.

Use a range of communication methods – website, social media (eg, Facebook), stage announcements, signage, and green champions.

Share the story of the greening journey and what has been achieved. This will help New Zealand bid for future events, and help position the event organiser as a leader in delivering environmentally responsible events.

Examples from major events

FIFA Football World Cup 2006 organised a competition amongst schools and soccer clubs to profile Green Goal.  Students and soccer players were encouraged to take part in greening activities in and around their schools and soccer clubs.

Singapore Youth Olympics 2010CAN(Create Action Now) Green organised numerous environmentally friendly activities to help raise environmental awareness. Activities included photo mosaics, T-shirt drawing, and an organic food demonstration.

b. Measurement

The old adage ‘what gets measured gets managed’ is relevant to greening an event. Measurement is important for tracking progress and demonstrating what environmental improvements were achieved. It also helps to build the business case for greening future events.

Measurement needs to be considered in the early planning stages, so there is time to put in place the necessary reporting systems to capture data.

Setting up a measurement system

The first step is to determine how the effectiveness of greening actions will be evaluated. Will a post-event report be prepared and if so, will greening actions be included?

Then identify:

  • the data that needs to be collected
  • the unit the data should be collected in (eg, weight vs. volume or dollar vs. kilowatt hours)
  • who is responsible for collecting or providing the data
  • when the data will be collected and at what stages and times
  • the format the data will be collected and stored in (eg, file format)
  • how the data should be interpreted and who will interpret it
  • whether certain data (eg, greenhouse gas emissions) needs to be verified by a third party and if so, by whom.

Talk to stakeholders, such as venue owners, suppliers and councils, to find out what they currently measure and how.

Expert advice on what and how to collect data can make the measurement process easier for everyone. A number of firms can help measure the environmental impacts of an event and demonstrate the environmental improvements made. Firms are listed in the Yellow Pages.

In addition, the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Economic Development can provide general advice about measurement systems. Email or

Example: Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006 – Environment Report Card

This Environment Report Card describes the initiatives that helped ensure the Melbourne Commonwealth Games’ environmental objectives were met, and how these initiatives were monitored, implemented and reported. It alsoprovides evidence of the lasting environmental benefits of the 2006 Commonwealth Games for stakeholders and the community.

2. Based on Landcare Research. 2007. Environmental Sustainability for Major Events Concept Development, page 33

3. Event owner – the body that owns the rights to the event, eg, IRB for the Rugby World Cup, IOC for the Olympics.

4. Event organisers – organistion or body responsible for the delivery of that specific event.

5. Decision makers – other parties that have input into decisions and budgets, eg, Ministers and councils.

6. Moxie Design Group. 2006. Understanding the market for sustainable living. Wellington: Moxie Design Group.


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