When I first became involved in the London 2012 Programme in 2005 it all seemed a long way off. Visiting Beijing in 2008 the London Games still seemed a distant vision. Now we are nearly there and we need to consider whether London 2012 will offer a unique sustainable experience and, probably more importantly, consider the lessons learned and how we go beyond 2012 to capture the momentum towards a more sustainable future.
This week sees our final comprehensive review before the Games. In it we recognise the excellent work done by the ODA, LOCOG and many other organisations to deliver the first Olympiad that has embedded sustainability in the whole Programme from bid to closing ceremony and beyond. The ODA has delivered a unique set of sustainable venues into the heart of green space and rich biodiverse habitat – this winning combination has never been seen before in quite this way at an Olympic and Paralympic Games. The event will be the first to be staged using public transport only for spectators, it will be the first summer Games to commit to sending no waste to landfill and the innovative Food Vision should deliver unprecedented standards of catering in terms of quality, choice, diversity and the transparency of the supply chain.
We also identify the issues which need to be addressed in the run-up to the Games. My small team will be working hard during the Games to provide assurance over every aspect of sustainability and I plan to be doing some “real time” communications about what we are witnessing. The aim will be to follow up the key sustainability objectives and provide assurance over them. This will be a lot of the detailed stuff, looking at waste streams, energy reports, logistics centres, travel arrangements, communications and the general visitor experience. We plan to produce a post-Games report very soon afterwards to record what we have seen and done.
I see this primarily as a time to celebrate what has been achieved but it should be acknowledged that it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time. Many groups see the Olympics and Paralympics as an opportunity to shine a light on their causes which expose many injustices in the world. I respect their rights of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest that people enjoy in this country. It is important to engage constructively around some of the more difficult issues as well at to learn how we may capitalise on the successes in the future. To this end we plan to host a series of workshops entitled “Beyond 2012” after the Games in which we plan to facilitate open and honest discussions about some of the key aspects of sustainability and ethics. We hope to make some recommendations which may help to make the world a little more sustainable in the future. As the Commission’s work draws to a close in March 2013 I want our work to have a legacy that people can use in the future.