Our Commonwealth Games do it the sustainable way


It is a little over a year until the XXI Commonwealth Games will take place on the Gold Coast (4-15 April 2018). The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) have been years in the planning and we are now entering the phase where things are starting to roll out and progress becomes visible. Events, and especially major events, can be wasteful, single-use happenings with a big clean up bill and not much more than memories left behind.  But with sustainable practices taking over more and more of the event management industry, what can we expect from the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast?

I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Chelli Easson (pictured, right), Sustainability and Legacy Manager and Katie Barton-Harvey (pictured, left), Sustainability Marketing Manager from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) about the sustainability aspirations, achievements and direction for 2018 and beyond.

Sustainability has been integrated into the planning for GC2018 since the bid was launched in 2011. GOLDOC has engaged consultants at the top of their fields, spent years fine-tuning their strategic plan and undertaken extensive community engagement to ensure that sustainability is taken seriously and done to benefit the region and the community in the long-term. Out of these processes, nine key sustainability priorities have been developed for GC2018; sustainable food and beverage, active and public transport, economy and community focused on legacy outcomes, carbon targets, accessibility, inclusivity and diversity, sustainable procurement, environmental impacts and waste management. These key cross-organisational priorities have been embedded into all aspects of planning and are aimed to ensure a delivery of GC2018 to high sustainability standards.

Great examples are starting to emerge out of the implementations and hard work.

“For example, our Catering Manager has developed a GC2018 Food Experience, which is a document that sets all our benchmark standards for delivery of food and beverage for GC2018.” Chelli Easson explained.

Another successful example has been the introduction of sustainable printing requirements.

“A number of the tenderers used the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games as a catalyst to review their current printing sustainability status and improve what they were doing,” GOLDOC chairman Mr Peter Beattie AC said in a recent statement.

“That means there is now, more than ever before, a range of local printers who are more sustainability aware and who now meet the Sustainable Green Print standard.”

Sustainability in event planning involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work, which is often not visible to the public and yet it is so very important for the public to see, understand and hopefully even participate in these measures.

“We are working on our Games-time messaging now to ensure sustainability has visibility during GC2018; our goals are to demonstrate sustainability in action, engage with stakeholders, raise awareness and drive behaviour change,” Katie Barton-Harvey said.

Some aspects of sustainability are going to be more obvious than others, such as accessibility. Our goal is to eliminate any barriers, physical or otherwise to ensure a safe, independent and dignified GC2018 experience… accessibility will be a key visual piece of sustainability.” And of course, it doesn’t stop there.

Sustainability is embedded into all of GOLDOC’s 42 functional areas and it touches every aspect of the event. Sometimes it is obvious, at other times it is invisible, but be assured it is always there as a well-thought out, planned and executed sustainability legacy for GC2018 and beyond. And this is what sustainability for our Commonwealth Games looks like a year out from the Games.

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