The Hawai‘i Convention Center (HCC) celebrated the announcement that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2016 World Conservation Congress received the distinguished ISO 20121 certification for sustainability, as this prestigious event was hosted in the United States for the first time at Hawai‘i’s premier meeting facility.

     ISO 20121 is a management system standard that has been designed to help organizations in the events industry improve the sustainability of their event related activities, products and services. ISO 20121 is based on the earlier British Standard called ‘BS 8901 Specification for a Sustainability Management System for Events’ which was first developed in 2007.

     More than 8,000 delegates from around the world gathered in Hawai‘i, September 1-10, 2016, for the global conference, allowing HCC to showcase its world-class meeting facilities and demonstrate its capabilities for hosting an event of this magnitude, while satisfying the stringent sustainability requirements expected by the conference organizers.

     “Congratulations to IUCN on achieving this important sustainability recognition, and also to the Hawai‘i Host Committee and the industry partners statewide who contributed to make the World Conservation Congress a success,” said Teri Orton, HCC general manager. “This was an incredible learning experience from start to finish for all of our staff to see first-hand what it takes to put on a truly green conference of this scale. IUCN proved to be the epitome of what HCC can handle.”

     “This important certification bestowed upon IUCN’s 2016 World Conservation Congress is welldeserved and I add my congratulations to all who made it possible for a job well done,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), the state’s tourism agency and an integral supporter of the Congress. “I extend a big mahalo to Teri Orton and her team for their exceptional work in hosting this gathering and showcasing the Hawai‘i Convention Center as a world-class meetings destination. No other meetings facility in the U.S. can claim the privilege of hosting IUCN.”

     The opportunity to host IUCN challenged HCC to go above and beyond its strong green business standards already in place by AEG Facilities, manager of the HCC, whose 1EARTH initiative is recognized as an industry-leading environmental sustainability program.

     “HCC already takes sustainability seriously in everything we do and showcased our commitment to conservation year-round for all meetings and events we host,” Orton added. “The IUCN events we hosted challenged HCC in the best way possible and I’m proud to say our staff, partners, and vendors came through with flying colors.”

The Challenge of Successfully Hosting IUCN

     IUCN officials made it clear from the start that its rigorous conservation guidelines must be followed without compromise by HCC in its hosting of the Congress. The HCC team spent months researching the procedures and securing the appropriate materials for use by IUCN delegates at the Congress and researching local farmers who grow foods in compliance with IUCN’s guidelines that can be served during the events.

     Providing food and beverage services for IUCN presented a great opportunity to educate the organizers and delegates about Hawai‘i’s local agriculture, its incredible bounty of locally grown products, and enabled HCC’s culinary team to work even closer with individual farmers and ranchers to help promote their products and provide a platform for them to talk about their personal challenges as food producers in our state.

     “It was a lot of fun and a welcome challenge to meet the diverse needs of the group to not only serve them great food, but to provide them a story or experience of Hawai‘i with every bite,” said Kevin Nakata, HCC executive chef. “We sourced what we could locally to develop menus and offerings throughout the conference that really highlighted island ingredients and flavor profiles. I felt great about what we served and the feedback we received was very positive.”

     Among the local food providers HCC was able to collaborate with during IUCN were J. Ludovico Farms for free range chickens, Ho Farms for tomatoes, long beans and butternut squash, Aloun Farms for peppers, melons, and onions, Tropic Fish sourced from the Honolulu Fish Auction, Paniolo Beef, Pono Pork and Armstrong Produce for a variety of other locally grown ingredients.

     In addition to the food and beverage requirements of IUCN, there were other operational requirements HCC needed to deliver on which are highlighted as follows:

  • HCC successfully partnered in a pilot program for composting for IUCN requiring the center to properly divert its waste back into the Earth and to animal feed.

  • ALL food and beverage disposable service ware were compostable.

  • ONLY glass bottles and aluminum cans were sold at concessions.

  • Vending machines selling plastic bottles and snacks with waste packaging were NOT available.

  • To reduce waste and encourage re-use containers, HCC installed new bottle filler dispensers at the water fountains. Five units were available on the lobby and meeting room levels.

  • For IUCN’s opening reception, the water used in containers to hold down the chef's tents were recycled for irrigation and cleaning.

  • Volunteer monitors were staged at many locations to educate guests on composting and recycling in Hawai‘i.

  • All materials available to Congress attendees were composted or recycled. Existing trash/recycle receptacles were re-labeled accordingly and designed for IUCN.

  • All materials used for the unique cardboard exhibits were recycled or repurposed.

Looking Ahead to New Opportunities

     The experience of hosting IUCN provides Meet Hawai‘i, the collaborative effort of HTA, HCC and the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau, to build and support the Hawaiian Islands as a premier destination for business meetings, conventions and incentive programs, an advantage going forward in going after future groups who share similar values in holding meetings and events with low impacts on the environment.

     “This has been an invaluable experience as the HCC team continues its momentum of finding new and innovative ways to evolve its green efforts and help Hawai‘i illustrate how it is emerging as a world leader in conservation,” Orton said. “HCC is committed to our state’s overall green initiatives and I’m excited about our team’s efforts currently underway to get the Hawai‘i Convention Center LEED certified.”


Media Contacts:

Nathan Kam 

Anthology Marketing Group 

O: 808-539-3471


About ISO 20121

ISO 20121 is a management system standard that has been designed to help organisations in the events industry improve the sustainability of their event related activities, products and services. ISO 20121 is based on the earlier British Standard called ‘BS 8901 Specification for a Sustainability Management System for Events’ which was first developed in 2007. Due to the high level interest in BS 8901, it was decided to create an international version of the standard to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics. In simple terms, ISO 20121 describes the building blocks of a management system that will help any event related organisation to:

  • Continue to be financially successful

  • Become more socially responsible

  • Reduce its environmental footprint

ISO 20121 applies to all types and sizes of organisation involved in the events industry – from caterers, lighting and sound engineers, security companies, stage builders and venues to independent event organisers and corporate and public sector event teams. Organisations that successfully implement the standard will be able to seek independent recognition of their achievement through a process called ‘Certification’. For more information, visit

About AEG Facilities

AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, is the leading sports, entertainment and venue operator in the world. AEG Facilities, a stand-alone affiliate of AEG, owns, operates or consults with more than 100 of the industry’s preeminent venues worldwide, across five continents, providing complete venue management, as well as specialized programs in operations, guest services, ticketing, booking, sales and marketing. AEG Facilities also provides resources and access to other AEG-affiliated entities, including live event producer, AEG Live, AEG Global Partnerships, AEG Development, AEG 1Earth, AEG Encore and AEG Creative to support the success of AEG venues across the globe. The Los Angeles-based organization owns, operates or provides services to the world’s most elite venues, including STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, Calif.), StubHub Center (Carson, Calif.), Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE (Los Angeles, Calif.), Sprint Center (Kansas City, Mo.), KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, Ky.), AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami, Fla.), Prudential Center (Newark, N.J.), Target Center (Minneapolis, Minn.) and BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, Texas). Among the roster of world class convention centers and other facilities managed by the division are the Los Angeles Convention Center, Hawai‘i Convention Center (Honolulu, HI), Qatar National Convention Center, Oman Convention and Exhibition Center (Muscat, Oman), Sydney International Conception, Exhibition, and Entertainment District, Cairns Convention Center and Darwin Conventions Centre. Other venues include Oracle Arena and Coliseum (Oakland, Calif.), CONSOL Energy Center (Pittsburgh, Penn.), Rabobank Arena (Bakersfield, Calif.), Mercedes-Benz Arena (Shanghai, China), MasterCard Center (Beijing, China), The O2 Arena (London, England), O2 World (Berlin, Germany), O2 World Hamburg (Hamburg, Germany), Ahoy Arena (Rotterdam, Netherlands), Itaipava Arena Pernambuco (Recife, Brazil), Allianz Parque (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Allphones Arena (Sydney, Australia), Ulker Sports Arena (Istanbul, Turkey), Ericsson Globe Arena (Stockholm, Sweden) and the. For more information, visit

Special Note to Media: HCC recognizes the use of the ‘okina [‘] or glottal stop, one of the eight consonants of the (modern) Hawaiian language; and the kahakō [ā] or macron (e.g., in place names of Hawai‘i such as Lāna‘i). However, HCC respects the individual use of these markings for names of organizations and businesses.