They think it’s all over

I was eight years old when England won the world cup in 1966. I can’t claim to remember the oft repeated commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme “They think it’s all over – it is now” as Geoff Hurst completed his unique hat-trick to beat West Germany 4-2 in extra time but of course this is now the stuff of legend. Team GB and Paralympics GB made an equally legendary contribution to our sporting heritage. Maybe the choice of a lion as a mascot has something to do with it; Team GB and Paralympics GB had Pride the Lion and in more innocent times in 1966 we had World Cup Willie.

They think the London 2012 Olympic Games are all over but from a sustainability point of view this is the end of the beginning. Today sees the release of our report entitled “London 2012 – From vision to reality“. It documents the fantastic effort made by my team to get to practically every Olympic venue with the exception of the football stadia. Not bad for a team of four people in a few short weeks. We also visited live sites, logistics hubs, waste transfer stations and numerous other “back of house” activities that would not normally be experienced by the public who just need to expect this stuff to be done well while they have a good time. Somebody has to check this and I would like to thank the team for doing such a great job in some of the less glamorous areas of the Games.

We can conclude from our assurance work that London 2012 has indeed delivered the most sustainable Games ever. Of course there are some things that could have been done better; energy conservation was pretty poor and inconsistency in delivery between LOCOG venues and government Live Sites did not help but the overall package of a great green space, food vision, a very visible waste strategy, great public transport and access for most disabled people proved to be a gold medal winning combination.

The Commission has one more piece of work to do before we shut up shop in March 2013; this is a review we call “Beyond 2012” where we will look for evidence of an “Olympic effect” on more sustainable practices. The ODA and LOCOG have demonstrated to the construction, event management and catering industries respectively that it is possible to deliver a step change in sustainable practice. The challenge is now with those industries and the people who commission services from them to demand these standards as a minimum and for the sectors to kick on and raise the bar even higher. My observations of these sectors to date make me optimistic, there is a growing band of people and organisations who understand the business opportunities presented through more sustainable solutions.

In other areas London 2012 has exposed weaknesses. The merchandise industry served up the same old tat in slightly more sustainable packaging here or containing a small percentage of organic cotton there. This is not step change and question marks remain about ethical standards in the supply chains of some suppliers and licensees. Global brand owners such as the IOC and FIFA have the power to demand more and should use it more effectively in the future. Transparency is important too. I have to question why no other event or major project has submitted itself to scrutiny by a body such as the Commission. Instead they rely on “advisory committees”, talking shops with no real influence, accountability or added value.

The party has left town but has London 2012 inspired a generation to be more respectful to the planet and the people on it? Maybe some future commentator starting a blog with “I was 8 years old when Mo Farrah won his second gold medal” will provide the answer.

Shaun McCarthy

November 2012

One Response to They think it’s all over

  1. Great work by Shaun and his team. Hope this will inspire other great events!