World Parks Congress 2014

In November 2014, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) partnered with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Parks Australia to host the sixth IUCN World Parks Congress.

The Congress demonstrated that national parks and reserves are not only crucial for global biodiversity conservation, but play an important role in our health and well-being by providing a source of green space and clean air, by enhancing food security through boosting fisheries and preserving wild crops, and by providing jobs to millions of people around the world.

This global event delivered proven solutions and promises to achieve conservation and development goals.


The event, held only once in every 10 years, brought together over 6,000 participants from more than 170 countries to share knowledge and innovation and set the global agenda for protected area management.

NSW was able to highlight our magnificent national parks and reserve system to an international audience. We showcased the best practice management of protected areas within NSW, with three of our parks included in the initial IUCN Green List of Protected Areas as well as present the natural and cultural heritage programs currently being delivered throughout the state.

Building on the Congress theme "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions", the legacy of the World Parks Congress, The Promise of Sydney:

  • supported the achievement of conservation targets while engaging a varied audience from government to citizens who care about the health of our planet
  • engaged with development sectors and inspired citizens to connect with nature
  • demonstrated nature-based solutions to global challenges including climate change, development, human health, and supporting human life

Stay connected

Find the latest information for the entire event at the IUCN World Parks Congress website, or follow post Congress discussions on social media.

IUCN World Parks Congress: Sustainability report summary

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 achieved its aim of being a leading example in event sustainability practice.

This summary includes the highlights of an independent report on Congress compliance with requirements of international standard ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management Systems.

Sustainability objective

The sustainability objective for the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 was to be a leading example in event sustainability practice for future IUCN congresses and events.

To meet that objective, the hosting partners committed to producing the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 in compliance with ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management Systems.

Sustainable event management tool

Compliance with the requirements of ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management Systems was guided by use of a sustainable event management tool (SEMS). This tool directed sustainability management throughout the event lifecycle.

Goals, initiatives and achievements

Key sustainability goals, initiatives and achievements for the event were:

  • Developing Green Caterer Guidelines, which included service ware and waste management requirements, to ensure caterers met the sustainability requirements for the event.
  • Applying Sustainable Sourcing Guidelines for products including merchandise, uniforms, water bottles, printing and signage. 
  • Energy efficiency and conservation through using low wattage stage and exhibitor lighting to achieve energy efficiency with a 44% reduction in the event’s estimated energy consumption. A total of 129 885 kWh of mains electricity was used. 
  • Meeting the target of 100% renewable energy and avoiding an estimated 114 tonnes of green house gas (GHG) emissions by purchasing GreenPower.
  • Minimising transport related impacts on the environment and communities.Offsetting 54% (approximately 8191 tonnes) of air travel generated GHGs.


The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 achieved its aim of being a leading example in event sustainability practice. The event undertook a 2nd Party Conformity Assessment audit, conducted by Sustainable Event Solutions, and achieved a certificate of compliance with ISO 20121.  

Compliance was achieved by:

  • Using a systematic approach to sustainability issues identification and management, including utilizing the SEMS tool.
  • Developing a Sustainability Policy for the event that reflected both the event context and the partner organization’s policies.
  • Undertaking pre-event impacts assessments and setting performance targets.
  • Engaging stakeholders on sustainability issues, particularly with the venue, caterers, exhibitors and major service and infrastructure providers.
  • Developing event sustainability management documentation, procedures and communications templates that can be used at future events.
  • Improving the system for carbon offsetting uptake by attendees.
  • Establishing a single-use water bottle-free event.
  • Using a triple-bin waste segregation system, including an onsite materials sorting station.
  • Implementing ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management Systems.


The sustainability legacy of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 includes:

  • A sustainable approach to the management and production of events that can be applied to future events.
  • A ‘Bio-Blitz’ created an up-to-date species profile for the venue (Sydney Olympic Park).
  • Creation of a Greening Committee at the venue.
Page last updated: 04 September 2015