Issues Prioritisation

Working out what should be focused on is an important part of your planning process.

What is relevant, where the biggest gains will be and where the ‘must-takes’ are, no matter the size of the potential impact, all need to be determined.

You have limited time and resources and while you would take a ‘shotgun’ approach and identify every sustainability issue that may exist at the beginning of your process, you will have to narrow the field in order to use your resources wisely, and to focus on what’s most important. 

Your materiality assessment process gives you a short list of issues important to stakeholders, relevant to society and sustainable development and important to the event or organisation. Next you must take another pass at the issues to prioritise them further to help to build out your sustainability action plan. 

Here another range of ‘decision filters’ can be applied such as the level of control or influence you have on an issue, the relative effort required for the impact achieved, etc.

One of the most common questions I am asked by students and clients is:

“What issues do I focus on?  I can’t do everything at once!”

We can give you tools to help guide you in determining which issues to prioritise for management. Read further on this page and also download our simple tool.

To avoid being overwhelmed into inaction, working out which issues to tackle is a skill in itself.

How important an issue is to stakeholders, the relative size of the impact of the issue and the level of control or influence you have, will all factor into where on the priority scale an issue might sit.

If an issue is deemed important, or is large in scale, whether you can control or influence it or not does not necessarily mean you can ignore it.  

Also, the risk of not acting at all needs to be weighed. What would the consequence of not acting be?

There isn’t a plug-and-play methodology for determining the priorities or level of importance to act on an issue. Each organisation and its events will have a unique set of circumstances and influencing factors

We can give you tools to help guide you in determining which issues to prioritise for management. Read further on this page and also download a simple tool.

  • Is there a legal or regulatory requirement?
  • Can a sustainability strategy create value for our event or organisation?
  • What could be the impacts or consequences of not acting?
  • How often does this issue come up?
  • How large is this impact compared with other issues’ impacts?
  • What effort is required compared to the scale of the positive outcome?
  • What level of control or influence do we have over management of this issue?
  • Does this issue impact sustainable development outcomes?
  • Do stakeholders expect us to manage this issue? How important is it to them?
  • Does this align with commitments we have made as a company?
  • Is there a possible reputation or public relations risk associated with this issue?
  • What is accepted best practice locally and by the industry sector?
  • Can you  demonstrate innovation and leadership, or leave a positive legacy?

Ten Factors in Issues Prioritisation

There are many things to consider which could impact how you prioritise your issues for management. The context in which you are operating, including location, the size or complexity of your event, your level of control or influence over an issue’s management, and the degree to which an issue is relevant or significant.


The context that surrounds the event will influence the importance of various issues to be addressed and in fact what can be effectively managed. The organisational context will also influence what is important to manage. This is the organisation’s primary reason for being and the cultural or societal context in which the event takes place or the organisation operates.


Where the event is held, the ability of the local event industry to service expectations and the likely results also have parts to play in the prioritisation of event sustainability issues for management.


The size, complexity and nature of the event are also considerations and will play a role in highlighting the types of issues that should be managed.


organisation has the power to manage the decision-making and has operational control. This is where staff or contracted teams are acting under the direct authority and delegation of the event organisation.


You can enact your financial control when deciding whether to or not to buy a product, contract a service, or hire a venue.


‘Significant influence’ would be where the event organisation has the power to have some say in the decision-making and operational control of the activity, issue or impact.


Relevance can be gauged by how often how an issue is brought up by stakeholders. Review your sustainable development principles and values and any commitments made. Identify any issues which are regulated as this is likely a frequent or high-risk issue that society expects to be managed.


Consider the size of the impact of a particular issue and the actual impact it creates. Set up criteria to estimate the size of the issue and impact relative to others. Consider the extent of the impact on stakeholders or on sustainability outcomes. What is the actual impact and how big will it be? What would occur if no action were taken at all?


How many resources are required to manage an issue and its related impacts, relative to the outcomes achieved? Take a deeper dive.


It is important that you have documented the process and decision filters you have used to reveal the most important issues.