Is there anybody out there?

Shaun McCarthy

May 25, 2010   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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May 2010 will see the publication of the Commission’s 2009/10 Annual Review. We are feeling increasingly optimistic about the delivery of sustainable venues by the ODA and we are impressed by the plans being developed by LOCOG to deliver a sustainable Games. We were less impressed with LOCOG’s management systems and we expect these to be improved in the coming months, but in general things are going well.

Or are they….?

If London 2012 had just promised to deliver sustainable venues and Games we could publish a very positive report. But much more was promised in the bid and in subsequent commitments. Expressions like “catalyst for new waste management infrastructure”, “blueprint for sustainable living” and “setting new standards of sustainability” all appear in official documents or statements by our political leaders; there is a lot more where that came from.

I am therefore compelled to assure the performance of London 2012 in terms of its delivery against sustainability objectives and also the extent to which it will influence others. Will this be an isolated oasis of good practice? – or a well of knowledge that helps to change behaviour?

It cannot be denied that lessons are available to be learned. Everything from the overall structure and governance of the programme to the details of the low carbon concrete mix are there to be absorbed. There are also some incomplete lessons too, such as the excellent work done to establish an embodied carbon footprint, which should lead UK PLC to acquire new skills in managing this inadequately understood impact.

The ODA has a comprehensive programme of gathering lessons learned but the sustainability case studies are slow to be developed. LOCOG needs to develop its shared learning in 2010 because they will be too busy in 2011, and gone by the end of 2012. Both the ODA and LOCOG contend that their role is to make the information available but not to ensure it is applied elsewhere. This is the role of Government, local and national, and for professional institutions and academia.

But is there anybody out there?

In our report we have called for action in this area. I hope that the relevant authorities recognise the significant contribution that the application of these lessons can make to the “Green Economy”.

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