Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 Mon, 25 Mar 2013 16:33:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Commission publishes Beyond 2012 – Outcomes Report Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:42:33 +0000 doublesided Read more ]]> In January 2013 the Commission held a series of roundtables to unlock new thinking in addressing important issues arising from 2012 programme. The Beyond 2012 Initiative aimed to address these challenges in an open and collaborative manner, drawing on the expertise of stakeholders, many of whom held divergent views. The Commission publicised its intention to hold the Beyond 2012 Initiative in its pre-Games report and in a range of informal communications to stakeholders.

UK and International sector leaders discussed five key themes:

  1. Construction and Infrastructure – The ODA has proved that sustainable construction can be done at a reasonable cost so why aren’t commissioning organisations asking for it?
  2. Food – Is it possible to replicate and improve on the London 2012 food vision objectives (to provide affordable, healthy and sustainably sourced food) for future major events?
  3. Supply chain – How can those that commission major events contribute to improving labour standards in the supply chain?
  4. Volunteering – How does the UK harness the appetite for volunteering for the benefit of sustainable communities?
  5. Corporate Sponsorship – What does the ethical framework for sponsoring major events look like?

The outcome of the Beyond 2012 Series has been detailed in a report which can be found here

]]> 0
Institution for Environmental Sciences publishes special CSL journal edition Wed, 20 Mar 2013 15:59:59 +0000 jemmapercy The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) and the Institution for Environmental Sciences (IES) have worked in partnership to produce a special edition of a journal dedicated to the sustainability of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The IES journal, entitled London 2012 – Sustainable Legacy? offers a comprehensive look at the sustainability successes, challenges and learning from the Games in London. Featuring a range of articles covering topics from health and the environment to ethics and the sponsorship of major events, the majority of articles have been written by CSL Commissioners and Secretariat, experts in their respective fields.

Guest authors also include Kathryn Firth (Chief of Design at the London Legacy Development Corporation), Richard Jackson (former Principle Sustainability Manager at the Olympic Delivery Authority) and Jonathan Pauling (Senior Policy Officer for the Greater London Authority who specialises in food).

The journal has a special joint introduction from Jonathan Porritt CBE (Co-Founder of Forum for the Future) and the Commission’s own Chair, Shaun McCarthy.

The journal will be available for public access later in the year, accessed via the IES website.

]]> 0
How many more times….? Wed, 20 Mar 2013 10:28:33 +0000 Shaun McCarthy Read more ]]> This is the end. After seven years, 21 assurance reports, 235 recommendations (of which only 9 were recorded as not achieved), 58,000 unique visitors to our website and the hard work of too many people to mention today, the Commission publishes its final report.

Our last report was always going to look a bit different. Inspired by our longest serving Commissioner, Dr Robin Stott, we have always maintained the mantra “there is no such thing as a sustainable Games – unless we can demonstrate in some way that the wider influence of the Games has compensated for the resources used”. Our last piece of work has explored this question and broadly concluded that this has also been a success. Of course it is not possible to do this to accounting accuracy and in many ways it is a bit too early to tell, but we can see emerging evidence that London 2012 is starting to make a difference to the sustainability agenda.

In construction, event management, catering and waste sectors we can find examples of good practice inspired or informed by London 2012. Not just in the UK but elsewhere in the world too. In fact in some cases there is more evidence outside the UK than within. This is aided greatly by the learning legacy material developed by the ODA and LOCOG, an idea originally suggested by another of our Commissioners, Professor Stuart Green.

Naturally, there is more to do. In the construction industry we can see mega-projects adopting ODA-esque strategies but less evidence in medium or small sized projects. Despite LOCOG’s best efforts the ethical standards of sponsors and their supply chains need greater transparency. I welcome the initiative from the Institute of Human Rights and Business to tackle this and I plan to make a personal contribution after the Commission has closed.

The existence of the Commission was a bold experiment too. It had never been done before, was it a success and should it be done again? To explore this we commissioned an independent review of our work. This report concludes that the Commission has been a success, offered excellent value for money and added value to the organisations receiving the assurance and most of their wider stakeholders. It recommends that the model should be replicated and suggests some improvements based on things that did not go as well as they should have. We have found some evidence of similar models used since the Commission was established in Australia, Abu Dhabi and in a global corporation but nothing in the UK public sector where it all began. Our recommendation that the London Legacy Development Corporation be subject to assurance for legacy is “no longer supported”. Is this symptomatic of the “British Disease”? Invent something good, lose momentum, let the rest of the world do it better than you, sit at home and complain about it. Like football for example…

When we first started the Commission we were pioneering. That was in 2005, by 2013 it is great to see big organisations around the world adopting the model. How many more times will you see something like the Commission in the UK? Only time will tell.

Shaun McCarthy

March 2013

]]> 1
Commission launches final report – Making a Difference Wed, 20 Mar 2013 09:44:39 +0000 jemmapercy Read more ]]> The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) has today published its final report, which looks at the sustainability achievements of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and whether these successes can be replicated in the UK and beyond.

Entitled Making a Difference, the report concludes that while there have been some excellent examples of action to embed the lessons learnt from the Games, for example, through the Government’s on-going support for the 2012 Learning Legacy web portal, there is still more to be done.

The Commission’s findings point to two main factors holding back widespread adoption of sustainable practice in the UK: firstly, slowness in government action in embedding sustainability in government procurement; and secondly, the need for more independent oversight to ensure that sustainability targets in all sectors are met. The Commission has recommended the Government revisit advice to embed sustainability into the construction sector, and that major projects open themselves up to independent scrutiny of their sustainability commitments.

Also examined are issues relating to corporate sponsorship, which raised some unresolved ethical concerns during London 2012. The use of forced labour and excessive working hours in supply chains remain a problem for many industries as a whole.

To combat this problem in the Olympic and Paralympic world, the Commission’s report recommends that the IOC and other sports bodies work together to develop an ethical framework as a means of encouraging sponsors to improve human rights in the supply chain.

Shaun McCarthy, Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, said:

“London 2012 was the first games to be monitored by an independent sustainability body. It was a ground-breaking decision seven years ago when we were first established. We’ve proved that the concept works, and now we’re seeing evidence of Commission-style assurance being used on large-scale private developments around the world.’

“However there is some way to go before the model is embedded in the UK public sector. London and the UK is looking to host a number of high profile events in the coming years and are well placed to take advantage of London 2012’s sustainability successes and lessons learnt. Internationally, Rio 2016 and the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco have already demonstrated a commitment to cutting edge sustainability goals and we look forward to even better sustainability outcomes from the UK into the future. So much good has come from the Games, it’s up to government and the private sector to adopt Olympic best practice and ensure the legacy lives on.”

The full report can be read here.

]]> 0
Independent Evaluation report on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 Tue, 19 Mar 2013 17:32:39 +0000 jemmapercy In November 2012, the Commission procured CAG Consultants to undertake an independent evaluation of the Commission following discussions with 2012 Key Stakeholders including the GLA, DCMS, LOCOG and LLDC.

The project was completed in mid-March 2013.

To ensure that the evaluation was carried out with sufficient independence, the Commission asked its Key Funders to establish a Steering Group, and it established a Peer Review Group.  The role of the Peer Review Group (PRG) was to provide commentary on whether the project was carried out in accordance with the project methodology, and whether there were any issues which had not been addressed as part of the evaluation which were considered by the PRG to be of importance to the outcome.

The PRG delivered its commentary on the DRAFT report in February 2013.  The consultants addressed many of the points raised by the PRG in the final evaluation report.

The Independent Evaluation report (CAG Consultants) can be found here

The PRG statement can be found here

]]> 0
Commission statement on BP Target Neutral programme at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Tue, 19 Mar 2013 17:16:23 +0000 jemmapercy Read more ]]> The Commission has completed its assurance of BP’s Target Neutral Programme.

BP was appointed by London 2012 as the Olympic and Paralympic Games offset partner for official travel. In addition, BP established a voluntary programme which offered to offset travel related carbon emissions for spectators, London 2012 corporate partners and the wider ‘Olympic family’ such as athletes and country delegations.

The Target Neutral Programme:

“…is an initiative that provides information and tools primarily through a website ( but also other channels such as Facebook, to support the reduction of carbon footprints. The information and tools are structured around three topic areas: ‘Reduce, Replace and Neutralise’. Participants are encouraged to reduce their travel emissions, for example by replacing car journeys with public transport, by driving ‘smarter’, driving less and maintaining vehicles better. Participants are also encouraged to consider new fuel-efficient vehicle technologies such as high efficiency engines and improved tyres, or products that may support vehicle efficiency such as “BP Ultimate Fuels” and BP’s “Castrol” lubricants. The ‘Neutralise’ stream encourages participants to offset the carbon emissions from unavoidable travel, and provides the facility to offset”[1]

The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (‘CSL’ / ‘The Commission’) decided to conduct assurance of the Target Neutral Programme in order to determine the robustness, efficacy and success of the programme in offsetting travel related carbon emissions and in influencing participants’ travel and offsetting behaviour.  To assist in its assurance CSL commissioned consultants Point Carbon to carry out a technical assessment of the Programme’s carbon offsets and the behaviour change elements.

The Commission is satisfied with the robustness of the Target Neutral Programme in respect of its treatment of carbon offsets.  The review found that BP has established a carbon offset programme which is innovative and which surpasses best available standards for the voluntary offset market in some respects, and met best available standards in all other respects.

The Commission believes that BP carefully researched and established a programme that could influence spectator and partner behaviour to make less carbon intensive travel choices and to consider offsetting their journeys to and from the Games. However, there is no evidence yet that longer term behaviour change has occurred although BP has put in place measures to engage participants over time through its ongoing carbon offsetting programme.

The Programme offset 99,027 tonnes of carbon and 501,412 journeys, which we estimate to be  between 3.88% and 7.76% of all spectator journeys[2] and 20% of the travel-related carbon originally estimated in LOCOG’s initial carbon footprint for the games[3].  This required over 500,000 people to actively engage with Park-based offset activities in order for their offset to be recognised under the programme which was a significant achievement. While the carbon offset was within expectations, the voluntary nature of the scheme meant that this was only a small proportion of all carbon emissions linked to travel for the Games.

The Commission recognises that offsetting carbon related to travel for major events can play an important role in reducing their overall carbon impact.  Previously we have been critical of moves to integrated carbon offsetting as a fundamental management strategy for addressing carbon as part of the London 2012 programme, as this can reduce the priority placed on reducing carbon impacts at source in favour of offsetting.  However, we supported the use of a travel related carbon offsetting strategy given that travel is largely unavoidable for international visitors.

As the Target Neutral Programme was voluntary, a key factor in the level of take-up for the programme was its visibility to spectators and partners and the level of public discourse and therefore awareness about climate change and carbon emission issues at the time.  The Commission has previously commented on the high level of press interest in local sustainability issues during the 2012 Games.  A notable exception to this was the general lack of media interest in global sustainability issues such as climate change or resource shortages (for example, water, or materials).  This may have played a part in the modest uptake by spectators of the offer to have their travel carbon offset.

The Commission believes that the BP Target Neutral Programme experience offers powerful lessons for future major events considering offsetting travel related carbon emissions and has a number of observations for future major event organisers.  The high standard of BP’s carbon offset programme sets a new bar for the major events industry and BP should be congratulated for its programme design in this regard.

It will be important for future events to try and establish a baseline of changed consumer preferences resulting from engagement in travel offset programmes so that learnings can be gathered about what works best and why during and after the programme has been implemented.  Early engagement by event organisers to determine a clear goal for a travel related carbon offset programme will be crucial in this regard. Defining parameters including behaviour change will assist delivery partners in designing a programme which best incentivises involvement, and which measures behaviour related impact.

Notwithstanding the very successful Park activation activity operated by BP, serious consideration should be given to ways in which spectators’ engagement with the programme could be even further strengthened, for example, by increasing the attractiveness of programme incentives or by stronger ties between event organisers and offset delivery partners.  We are aware that BP sought opportunities for greater connection with ticket holders but not all of these opportunities were given the go-ahead by games organisers.

There is merit in a globally standardised approach to calculating emissions from travel for international events. BP’s methodology would make an appropriate basis for this approach.  In communicating how an individual journey has been calculated, future programme design could optimize further the interest of the consumer and their engagement with ways to reduce emissions at source.


[2] This estimate is based on the total journeys being equivalent to between 50 and 100% of tickets sold.  The total number of spectator journeys is not known as some spectators received more than one ticket  for events on the same day.

]]> 0
LOCOG publish sustainability learning legacy documents Thu, 31 Jan 2013 17:52:15 +0000 jemmapercy LOCOG has published a series of learning legacy documents related to sustainability. This series of micro reports and case studies can be found on the London 2012 Learning Legacy website via the following link:

The Commission commends the hard work of the LOCOG sustainability team for making available such a wealth of useful information concerning the achievements and challenges around the sustainability of the Games, and in making the lessons available for industries, organisations or individuals to take forward.

]]> 0
Commission assurance statement on final London 2012 sustainability report Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:32:20 +0000 jemmapercy Read more ]]> London 2012 has published their final report concerning the sustainability of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Commission has provided an assurance statement which is contained in the report, and can be read in full below:

Assurance Statement by the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012

This final sustainability report of London 2012 presents an unprecedented opportunity to consider how London 2012 performed against its stated sustainability commitments.  It has been the role of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 to hold each of the London 2012 bodies formally to account throughout the life of the 2012 programme and, in this final sustainability report for London 2012, we provide here a summary of our view on the programme’s performance.

Over its life, the Commission has undertaken an extensive number of planned and responsive thematic and annual reviews, resulting in 235 recommendations.  Progress against these along with full reports can be found on the Commission’s website at At the time of writing, over 70 per cent have been achieved or satisfactorily closed, while just 10 per cent have either not been achieved, show no progress yet, or are at significant risk of having not been achieved.  This demonstrates that London 2012 has been largely responsive to criticism to ensure that it remained on course in meeting its sustainability commitments.

This final report highlights in a commendably transparent manner London 2012’s successes and learnings from hosting the Games themselves.  The report is focussed on what lessons can be learnt by future Games organisers and associated industry players across themes most important to stakeholders.  It is supplemented by summary reporting against all sustainability related Games-time targets.

While we are not in a position to comment on the veracity of the data presented in this report, there is nothing that contradicts our own observations from the Games period which we reported in our post-Games report ‘London 2012 – From Vision to Reality’.

London 2012’s sustainability achievements surpass any other Games and have in many cases set new world best practice across development and events related sectors.  As the world economy struggles in a climate of austerity, it would be easy for governments and industry players alike to view London’s performance as an unrepeatable high-point, domestically and abroad.  This would be a mistake in our view.

The sustainability team within London 2012 ceases in mid December 2012, and our own Commission ends on 31 March 2013.  There is a limited window to ensure that London’s legacy is best applied and not simply a fond memory. The Commission has one final review to undertake before we close, entitled ‘Beyond 2012’. We will focus this review on the many ways in which London’s performance can be embedded into wider industry practice.

A key question in our final review will be how the UK government can keep London’s legacy alive. We are heartened by the creation of a legacy unit within the Cabinet Office and under the leadership of Lord Coe and we look forward to seeing plans that set out how London’s legacy will live on.

A legacy of change

The final London 2012 sustainability report can be downloaded here

London 2012 – from vision to reality 

The Commission’s post-Games report can be downloaded here

]]> 0
Commission publishes Post-Games Report Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:44:02 +0000 jemmapercy Read more ]]> The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 has published its in-depth review into whether the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games truly delivered the promised levels of sustainability.

The post-Games report, entitled London 2012 – From Vision to Reality, presents the final conclusions through key sustainability themes, with information based on first-hand observations and data gathered by the Commission during Games-time.

The report concludes that the London 2012 Games broadly delivered against its sustainability objectives, and highlights several examples of leading practice which the Commission urges future Olympic and Paralympic organisers to follow.

Using today’s release of its post-Games report, the Commission has called on the UK to lead the charge in ensuring London’s lessons are firmly embedded into the events industry.

Ambitious sustainability targets such as zero waste to landfill and 70% waste to be re-used, recycled or composted are on track thanks to efforts such as meticulous attention to packaging and the effective use of the colour coded three-bin system.

The transport system delivered an excellent service, and London 2012 should be praised for being the first Games to offer a fully comprehensive mobility service. Comprehensive public transport options and effective planning meant that the logistical operation for the Games was delivered with minimal disruption to Londoners.

Another success story was the food, with a wide variety of healthy, sustainably sourced, affordable meals available at most London 2012 venues, driven from the start by the development of the impressive London 2012 ‘Food Vision’ – a first for major event catering.

Shaun McCarthy, Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, said:

“I have no hesitation in confirming that London 2012 has delivered the most sustainable Games ever, and we congratulate the delivery bodies and all those who contributed to this excellent achievement. But we mustn’t rest on our laurels – more could be achieved if London’s lessons, both the good and the challenging, are heeded by others.

“London 2012 has raised the bar on sustainability, not just for future Olympic and Paralympic Games but for industry, and for the organisers of major events the world over – from music festivals to football World Cups. By being open to learning from these successes as well as the missed opportunities, future major projects could even out-perform London 2012’s sustainability achievements.

“Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson has said that Government is now ‘focused on delivering the legacy from the Games’. The UK is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, the Rugby World Cup in 2015, and the Olympic Stadium hosting the World Athletics Championships in 2017 – what better way to deliver the legacy than by embedding leading sustainability practice in these events? I call on the organisers to pick up the sustainability baton and carry it forward, demonstrating to the UK public that we can rely on them to meet the spirit of London’s sustainability achievements.”

However, the Commission’s findings also point to some areas during the London 2012 Games where further improvements could have been made.

The Live Sites provided an excellent opportunity for the public to soak up the Games atmosphere for free, but the Commission was disappointed that many of the Live Sites refused to allow the public to bring in their own food; compromising affordability and the principle of creating an event for all budgets.

Although Games-time carbon savings are on track to be achieved, the Commission remains disappointed with LOCOG’s slow development of a comprehensive energy plan, which meant opportunities were missed for even further carbon reductions.

The opening and closing ceremonies provided a showcase for messages about sustainability, and elements such as the method of waste management on the Olympic Park and use of green space offered spectators an opportunity to observe sustainability in practice. However, the lack of information available about the venues, village buildings and infrastructure was a missed opportunity for communicating their sustainability credentials to visitors.

The post-Games report can be downloaded in PDF format here.  

The full press release about the report is available here.  


]]> 0
They think it’s all over Wed, 14 Nov 2012 22:48:52 +0000 Shaun McCarthy Read more ]]> 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

]]> 1