Barcelona World Race and ISO 20121, a great example

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in Consultoría, Eventos deportivos sostenibles, Eventos Sostenibles, ISO 20121 | 1 comment

Barcelona World Race and ISO 20121, a great example

The Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB), was created with three strategic objectives in mind: sports, industry & technology and communication, and devised to undertake a series of projects geared towards promoting and boosting activities related to top-level ocean sailing.

The main and most important project led by the FNOB untill now is the Barcelona World Race, the round around the world, two-crew non-stop sailboat race. The past edition startet last December 31, 2014.

During the summer of that same year, the FNOB was certified in the UNE-ISO 20121: 2013 standard for sustainable event management, becoming the  the first international regatta and the first event in Spain to receive this recognition. This certificate adds to UNE-EN-ISO 9001: 2008; UNE-EN-ISO 14001: 2004 and OHSAS 18001: 2007 which makes the FNOB an example to follow in terms of efficient management and quality, as well as responsibility towards society, workers and the environment.


We have had the opportunity to talk about the ISO 20121 certification process with Xavier Rabadà, Rosina Motilla, Patricia Gimenez and Lucia Cuesta membres of the Integrated Systems Management Department.

1. Why did you decide to become certified in ISO 20121?

When we were finishing other three implementations (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001) people started talking about the ISO 20121 and our General Management decided to become certificated because our Foundation values ​​ (FNOB). With the other ones was difficult to adjust us to their standard as it was a recurring event that happens every four years being so difficult to narrow it down. Instead, the ISO 20121 is much easier for a recurring event. When we got the guidelines we began to work and we finished just in 6 months. It was easy because we had the baggage of other implementations. Therefore we decided to adapt all the standards as an integrated system so it can summarizes everything. Perhaps the most innovative part was the social one, since everything else was covered with 9001, the 14001 and 18001. In summary, we can say that it was pretty easy because we had been working with the others standadrs recently.

2. Is it difficult to implement a Sustainability Management System in sport events? What was the most complicated step?

The most complicated step for us was the identification of stakeholders. At the begining, you think it’s easy because you focus on agents that you have around. But when you start to study further, you realize all the external stakeholders there, such as the local police, the security forces of the State and neighborhood … I mean, there are many side  effects in this type of event related to the social aspects that BCN World Race could influence in a direct or indirect way. It is also true that we had to limit this, because the event is international and we had to reduce the extent to which we are able to intervene. A letter was sent to adress the issue, once we identified the stakeholders, but no one answered us except a person who had been working at the Olympic Games in London. He is involved in one event linked to the sailboat race and asked us if we could arrange a meeting. To continue with that process, we decided to work for our own interest. We wanted closer ties with the district of Barceloneta, with the Friends of the Ramblas, the City … Inside the FNOB there are many areas and each one  has its stakeholders. From these areas we define the projection and the limit of the scope. In summary, we have communicated with all the stakeholders, if someone wanted  to come to speak with us, it would be more than welcome.  In summary, we could say that we have been more proactive with agents that we were interested in get their support.

Another issue that requires our effort was finding sustainable suppliers, because each area has its own suppliers for some time and this certification demands that the supply chain members share the values of sustainability.

The fact of achieving the sustainability report and ISO 14001 made it quite easy, since for example the 14001 is more comprehensive than 20121 in environmental issues.

We would add that the fact of having been the first event in the country has its drawbacks, because you do not have any references, (so we looked up all London Olympic Games documents to get some ideas).


3. From your standpoint, believes the ISO standard entails excessive bureaucracy? (Establishment of procedures, records etc)?

Depends. If it is a well assembled event, with well done master plan, is not a problem. However, if there isn’t a definite Master Plan and is an event that doesn’t have a good planification, will cost a lot. We work with a master plan where we can see that the implantation fits  by itself, and, this plan is, in the main, a procedure or the beginning of a process already. Therefore it isn’t a difficult process. All certifications we have are based on the master plan of the event. Another issue is people get used to work this way. In order for something to happen, we have to educate our staff in the implementation of the Master Plan as well as in management system. The way to do it is going slowly, day by day and taking advantage of the audit process to make this change in the way we work. It is also true that every event has it’s improvisation and although you programe every single thing, during the operational phase something unexpected could occur and you must keep going on (regardless of budget cuts, problems with infrastructure or resources).  This is, maybe, the hardest part to fit into a management system. Perhaps ISO should change a little bit its closed structure to fit better in world of events.

The key to avoiding excessive bureaucracy is adapt it to the way you work. It is to do the bare minimum but useful for those who are working and thus you to ensure succes.

When it is been a while you see that maybe you have made some superfluous things but that is what it means continuous improvement:  to see the mistakes and correct them to  adapt management system to the reality of the organization concerned. There are people from the FNOB who has got a huge benefit of working with a management system, for example they have improved the work organization and efficiency.

4. Could you tell us some improvement in the Barcelona World Race after the implementation of ISO 20121?

More than after It has been throughout the project implementation. There are several planned actions such as a fleet of electric vehicles, a new electricity supplier, we have for exemple, we  have hired staff from the Barceloneta’s neighborhood and  fair catering service. Which means to work with companies listed on its values of social responsibility. There are projects that were already functioning as the recycle of sails.

Sails that have been used are transformed into folders, bags or briefcases in the reinsertion center  CIRE. In this way we give an added value to recycling because not only takes into account the environmental aspect but also the social part works.

Another highlight is we have signed agreements with the CSIC, UNESCO and universities that provide a scientific character to the race, apart from the sport ones. There are a number of projects of these institutions that use the race to obtain data on salinity of water, temperature, currents, samples of plastic micro, taking advantage of the fact that boats reach inaccessible parts of the globe in which data are unavailable.

There is also an educational program, which are attached many schools not only in Catalonia but throughout the country, in which promote respect for the ocean and coastline among other values. We try to reach a wider audience through the virtual game The Game, which has nearly 30,000 players and was created with institutions in the territory to promote the economy of proximity.

Within the philosophy of the FNOB is intended that the boat sail race is not only a sport but to add value to science, citizenship and the company itself. And this is the wake that the Barcelona World Race want to leave.


5. Do you recomend ISO 20121 certification in other sporting events?

It depends, again. We believe that should be events with a message, for example the World Cup currently has no added any value to be certified in 20121. It could have a message but not in the way it is mounted nowdays. If the sports authorities doesn’t  work in that line , in this case the International Football Federation, or whatever (the case of football is an example), makes no sense. There must be a clear message of what you want to do and how far you want to go. The key is that General Management believe in what ISO 20121 certification means, that after all is the management of the event. If managers are involved  consciously, yes we would recommend.

Another key aspect is not to want to include everything from the beginning. There is a guide where you can find many choices, you can choose 3 or 4 to try to implement them correctly.  And as the event is repeating time after time, you add new goals to achieve. For a long duration -repeated in time- event , this certification fits well.

If you look at the Olympics, they have a great social impact in the country where they are held, it would be logical that all editions will be certified. So the country that will host, could learn from previous editions, London … Hopefully the next editions will continue to push what began London and certification become a requirement for the Olympics.

The ISO 20121 should be a very personal project, it should be clear that this certification is wanted and should be consistency within the promoter organization of the event itself. Once the General Management is convinced and already have implanted the standard, is an easy certification to sell and communicate externally. It is not a domestic issue that stays at home because you are dealing with issues involving the whole of society, such as the local economy or the environment.

Loom want to thank the FNOB the time they have spent with us and kindness and friendly treatment we received. Was a pleasure to speak with you!


One Comment

  1. This is a fascinating article and well done to the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing!

    I particularly like the concluding point about it has to be meaningful – certification to ISO 20121 is not an end in itself; it is a means of helping an organisation deliver greater benefits and efficiencies.

    Therefore an organisation has to be clear why it is going down this route, it has to have full management and internal buy-in, and a credible plan for telling its sustainability story. Exactly right.

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