Double gold for sustainable London 2012…?

Shaun McCarthy

August 11, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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When the Commission was first established we knew we would need to set the bar high if the world was to be convinced that London could really deliver a sustainable Games.

As well as looking at best practice in various industry sectors it was also necessary to look to previous Games for inspiration and benchmarks. There is no doubt that Sydney’s Green Games would be a hard act to follow. The work they did on remediation, energy efficiency, use of solar power and particularly water efficiency remains a hard act to follow. The innovative design of the stadium means that five different sports can be played there, contributing to a legacy. The connection with nature was not forgotten either with new habitats created for some of Australia’s native and rare species.

I doubt the term “sustainability” was in common use when Barcelona won the bid in 1985 to stage the Games in 1992. However the vision of legacy for this fine city is there for all to see 20 years on. The imaginative use of the existing stadium in Spain and the legacy use for events and rock concerts is a great example that London could even improve upon given the proximity of the Olympic Park to excellent transport links. However, the jewel in the crown is the Olympic Village that was used to help regenerate the east side of the city and open up a vibrant new waterfront district. The Games also helped to put Barcelona on the map as a global destination. If East London can achieve all this they will be doing very well.

I think London has surpassed the Sydney benchmark by looking at a far wider definition of sustainability, taking in things like food, employment and sustainable supply chains. It is too early to say if the legacy will surpass Barcelona but the signs are good. I have always seen London 2012 as a long term regeneration project interrupted by sport. I would like to see East London emerging as a new destination and a place for people to live, work and visit. We will know in 20 years but the London Legacy Development Corporation has a great plan. A double Gold is possible but it won’t be awarded for a while.

Credit for the success to date must go the delivery bodies; primarily the ODA, LOCOG and Transport for London but we like to think the Commission has made a small contribution too. By providing a continuous strategic assurance service we have made sure that no objectives are quietly dropped and have provided early warning of risks and concerns. We have reported honestly to the public, helping to give credibility to the claims made by delivery bodies and exposing the occasional weakness in their arguments. We hope future host cities look at our work and are inspired to do something similar and that the IOC continue to encourage future host cities to set the bar even higher.

Shaun McCarthy

August 2012

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