The latest in our Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games webinar series covers the key topic of sustainability.
Gowling WLG Partner, Ben Stansfield is joined by Jessica Fidler, Head of Sustainability, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and Sally Russell, Head of Procurement, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
The speakers discuss Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games approach to:
- Carbon Management and its goal to create a carbon neutral legacy.
- Sustainability in the supply chain
- Communicating sustainability measures and practices externally and to stakeholders both externally and internally.
Ben Stansfield: ... Today I am joined by two speakers from the Organising Committee of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. I have Jess Fidler, Head of Sustainability, and Sally Russell, Head of Procurement. Thank you both for joining us today. Today we are going to talk about sustainability and the Birmingham 2022 Games and the measures they, introduced and how you in your own organisations can engage with supply chain on sustainability. With the focus on ESG in every organisation including Gowlings we hope this is really timely and it helps you work out how you might deal with your sustainability strategy, how you might liaise with your supply chain and then ultimately how you might report and communicate your successes and, well, hopefully not failures but how you can talk authentically to your stakeholders about it.
So really grateful to our speakers for giving up their time today. We have a number of questions to go through but if you do have questions of your own please do put them in the Q&A, there should be a button at the bottom so please do put them in there. I cannot promise we will get to them all and I would say that the shorter your questions the more likely I am to understand them and to be able to put them to our panellists, so thank you for your help there.
Jess, Sally, I wonder if we could perhaps just start by giving the audience sort of a small taster about some of your roles and your experiences and how you enjoyed the Games. So Jess, maybe you could start us off.
Jess Fidler: Yes, thanks Ben. Yeah, so my name is Jess Fidler, the Head of Sustainability, and I joined the Organising Committee at the point with about 500 days to go which I will come onto in a bit of detail, it was an interesting time to join. It has been a fantastic experience. I think I am really proud of everything we have achieved around sustainability and also acknowledging the challenges of making the Games an event like ours sustainable as well which definitely had its sort of challenges and compromises along the way. My role predominantly focused on environmental sustainability, so sort of carbon, conservation and air quality and waste were sort of the areas I was really focusing on but our sustainability agenda sort of covered that sort of broader socio-economic aspect as well.
Ben: Perfect, thanks Jess. Sally, can you do the same please?
Sally Russell: Yes, of course. Hi, I am Sally Russell, so I am Head of Procurement at the Games. I started back in June 2020, just as we were sort of at the start of our pipeline development when some of the big procurements were kicking off. So my team is responsible for delivery of that procurement pipeline and as a team we completed over 200 procurements. A lot of those have been sort of over threshold, so sort of high level, complex, OG, or FGS as it is now, compliant contracts and part of the procurement process has been the introduction of sort of social values, sustainability into our procurements and that is a first for a Commonwealth Games. And I think for me, like Jess has said, it is something that we are really proud of and I think joining the Games for me on a personal level that is something that sort of attracted me, because it is based in the West Midlands but also the fact that we were going to be developing something that would leave a big legacy behind, both on like a sort of economy and local community impact as well, so I think that is something that we should all be really proud of that we've achieved.
Ben: Perfect, thank you. Jess, let us start with you. So I mean, you know, in my head the Birmingham Commonwealth Games was sort of two or three weeks in the summer and it feels a distant memory on a cold day like today, so it is obviously interesting to hear how sort of far ahead of the event you started. What was day one like? You know, because it is a sort of huge beast, how did you get your arms around it?
Jess: Yes, like I said I actually joined the organisation at the point of 500 days to go which was actually when the Organising Committee announced its sustainability pledge as a commitment to create the most sustainable Games yet and create a carbon neutral legacy. It was quite an interesting time to join the organisation because I get some of that, you know, pre-thinking and what work had been done beforehand but I guess to take it a few steps back in terms of what was involved in that, that drive around sustainability very much came from our sort of board and exec, the ambition of wanting to do something really ambitious around sustainability was definitely driven by them.
There was a large amount of stakeholder engagement involved in that process, so speaking with Games partners and suppliers and what is important to them and I think key issues such as carbon, air quality rates naturally came up via those conversations and finding sort of local groups and those who are sort of really passionate about that. So it was almost naturally that sort of materiality exercise really, that ambition from the Games' sort of I guess exec committee but also speaking with stakeholders, that very much helped to identify those areas which were important to the Games which sort of started to shape that strategy.
We also looked at sort of what is within our control and what is outside of our control and what is within our influence, acknowledging like you say a two/three-week event, you know, how do you sort of, what can you control and what, you know, what is outside your control? And I guess when you are talking about climate emergency and sustainability it is such a large topic, can we as a Games make a difference? So all those factors very much played into sort of I guess identifying with strategy.
There was also a vast amount of sort of benchmarking done as well. Obviously Commonwealth Games only ever happen every four years, so actually four years ago from a climate change perspective quite a different perspective, but also looking at what other events are doing and I think sports and sustainability are such an interesting area and I obviously learned a lot more about that in the last year or so and actually there's some really pioneering examples of how people are using the sport and sustainability space to push this area forward.
Ben: Okay, and was 500 days long enough? I mean, to me obviously... it is a year and a half but was that quite condensed do you think to do that exercise?
Jess: Yes, I think the timing was about right actually to be honest. I guess we were obviously working on a generally Games-condensed timescale but I think if you go from an ambition perspective, if you have gone too much earlier. You needed some substance behind that so you needed quite quickly to have some conversations with suppliers and partners, how can you make that a reality? So I guess it is a case of setting that mandate and that timing felt right to set that mandate and I think that was a really helpful way of sort of keeping those conversations with suppliers, with partners going but then also quite quickly putting some bones behind that, sort of what the reality of it was.
Ben: Yep, okay, and hopefully you look back and think 'job well done' but what did you, what did you learn from it? What did you, you know, what do you think - oh if only, if we had had 600 days for example or, you know, what could you have done differently, what would have been the sort of the next steps to do if you had had longer?
Jess: Oh yes, we spent a lot of time doing this and I think if you're in sustainability it is your natural mind-set to always want to improve on areas that you did. But I do think that overall mandate was definitely helpful I think in setting that position of how you sort of adopt those conversations with suppliers, talk to them about our carbon neutral ambitions. But I do think something that we did not get right in terms of our timing was some of the sort of I guess documents and supporting pieces alongside that, so I am sure Sally will touch on it but our sourcing code came in a bit later, so actually we had already had some conversations with suppliers and partners prior to setting that ambition, so there was a bit of a misalignment in terms of things like our sourcing code or our social value strategy was sort of a little bit in earlier stages, so there were some elements that maybe were not quite as aligned as they could have been.
So I think if I was to have my time again I would have really sort of thought quite quickly about, well, you set that ambition, where does it need to be through from a procurement perspective, from a supplier perspective, from a roles perspective almost. As a small central sustainability team, you can never be in every conversation to how to sort of more formally account for sustainability responsibility across some of the other teams, would be something I would also consider to make that sort of more set.
I think another reflection is around engagement, I think around sustainability engagement obviously it is such a key area and I do not think you can ever engage enough. There is a challenge in terms of the fact that we were such growing organisation so from the point I joined, sort of a hundred people or so joining every week, how do you get their engagement around sustainability and make them understand how they need to do it in their roles? So that was definitely a learning that I would... I would think a bit differently about how to do that and I guess from an engagement perspective externally as well, from a spectator's perspective I do think we missed a bit of a trick in terms we have got thousands of people who are sort of interested, all eyes on the screen around the sport that is happening and the culture, how do you get sustainability to more of that conversation? I think we did it in parts with including elements of like public transport and the tickets and making people bring their refillable bottle, you know, they are subtle hints but I think we could have been more direct with that as well.
Ben: Right, okay, and you talk about your internal engagement with colleagues onboarding, how did you do that?
Jess: Well, it is sort of changed a bit I guess as the organisation grew so when you initially, when I sort of joined there was quite an in-depth one-week induction programme. I think if you joined the organisation a couple of weeks before the Games, the really quick half-hour Zoom call, so I guess it was trying to be flexible within that and making people understand what our ambition was and also trying to translate to within their team, so whether or not you are in the logistic team or you are in the procurement team, what is your role to help us and achieve our sustainability ambition? And ultimately that is quite bespoke for each member of the team, so it was quite hard to sort of get that message across as you are aware I think that accountability across different teams could have helped.
Ben: Okay, and then what sort of, you know, I guess what are the top tips, you know, someone sitting here watching and they have been told by, I do not know, one of the directors 'right, ESG or sustainability, you know, you go and sort that out', and they have got a blank sheet of paper, what do they write down, what do they, where do they start, what are your top tips?
Jess: I think from a starting perspective that materiality approach in terms of what is important to you, what is important to your stakeholders is such an important place to start because you can find those key topic areas but I also think quickly identify a few areas to focus on. We honed in quite hard on our carbon neutral legacy and that led a lot of our conversations around how can you reduce the carbon in certain areas, what can we do from a long-term legacy perspective? So I think identifying those couple of areas that you almost want to be famous for and really do well, a few things well, would be one of the areas I would take. It is such a big topic that you want to do a baseline of everything to a good standard and then what can you really focus on that you really want to excel in and be famous for, so that would one, I guess one of them.
I think for us we often asked ourselves what was 'ambitious but credible', so we obviously set a big standard in terms of most sustainable Games yet and first to create a carbon neutral legacy. But then you needed to be credible as well, they needed to have that external verification, they needed to stand up to scrutiny, stand up to audit because you were making such a big statement. So I think it is that balance between being ambitious but also having the right proof points and the right credibility behind that.
Ben: And just actually on the question of audit, is that something that you had sort of an external body come in or was that...?
Jess: Exactly, there were quite a few different ones, so from a sustainability perspective we aligned ourselves with the ISO 2012 1 Standard which is a sustainable event management standard so that checks out how you set up, how you consider the different stakeholders, how you assess risks, so that was an external audit we had done. We have also had our carbon neutral legacy ambition externally verified and we had our footprint verified by two different consultancy partners reviewing that overall approach and then the forest... which is our predominant way of offsetting is a really heavily governed process through auditing of sort of I guess the planting of the trees, the UK woodland code, there's lots of different elements to that which I think is really important to that credibility.
Ben: And on the forest, have the planting works started or, you know, what is the time... timing of that?
Jess: Yes, so obviously it is a long-term project. The ambition for Severn Trent is by 2024, so it is you know, it is a long-term project but 2020 acres is a large of amount of space, right?
Jess: And I guess we are very much acknowledging the fact that our approach with planting trees is a long term approach that does not happen overnight. It is going be decades until that process is rebalanced but in our opinion taking that sort of approach locally was what we wanted to do because of all the additional benefits it has getting people out in green space, getting people volunteering, biodiversity benefits, so for us that was a very sort of conscious decision that that is what the approach we wanted to take.
Ben: Perfect, okay, thank you for that. We will perhaps come back to you. But Sally, on the procurement side, how did you engage with your supply chain and were they willing participants or were they a bit sort of begrudging and shrugging shoulders and going 'oh, sustainability, do we have to?' sort of thing?
Sally: No, I think with procurement it did give us a real opportunity to make a difference and sort of measure social value and sustainability. As I said it is one of the firsts for a Commonwealth Games to actually include this as part of their procurement processes and as Jess mentioned previously as part of that we developed our social values charter and sustainability sourcing code which sort of set out our strategic focus for the Games and sort of what our expectation would be from any suppliers that we entered into a contract with. I think the first sort of stage of engaging with the supply chain was just through our market engagement so when we are going through that sourcing sort of strategy development stage at the beginning of any procurement we would hold sort of market engagement events.
But due to Covid, where pre-Covid you would sort of get everybody in a room, invite all your suppliers, have sort of presentations and conversations, whereas a lot of our market engagement had to be done through sort of either through our procurement system via questionnaires or we would have like Teams meetings and what we would do was make sure that sustainability was on the agenda so that might be that we would invite sort of Jess or somebody else within her team to come and sort of talk about our expectations. We would make a link to how we would be evaluating it within our tender and that is obviously dependent on procurement that we are going out for at the time. So I think those market engagements sort of gave us that initial platform to talk about the aims of the Games, sort of how we are using procurement to ask suppliers to think about sustainability, what they can offer the Games and sort of how they can then present that in their bid responses sort of based on the evaluation criteria and things like that.
So also part of our obviously for being bound by public procurement rates, a minimum of 10% rating is given to our evaluation on social value which includes sustainability and I think one of the key lessons learned if you are thinking about sort of how you can include sustainability, social value, is just to consider it right at the outset. I think as Jess mentioned the sourcing code came in later so that was something that we had to introduce to the new procurements at that point but we also had to go back and ask our suppliers who were already in contract to actually sign up to that code as well and I think you need to think to think about, so if you ask from suppliers how you intend to sort of manage, evaluate, monitor the commitments going forward, so that the suppliers are aware of what our expectations from them are before we actually put in a bid for any or our procurement opportunities.
Ben: Okay, just on the sourcing code, can you just sort of explain to folk what that was or what that means?
Sally: Yeah, so with the sourcing code it just sets out strategic aims and objectives of the Organising Committee, how we are looking for sustainability from our suppliers and just some of sort of the criteria that we would be asking them to sign up to if they were actually successful in winning one of our contracts.
Ben: Perfect, and you must have had a large number of suppliers and presumably some were sort of, you know, FTSE 100 Plcs and some were sort of small one-person businesses. I mean, did you have different requirements, did you, were you sort of, you know, tougher on those who could take it and more lenient on others or was it one size fits all?
Sally: Well, as a starting point all of our procurements we had a minimum of 10% rating so anything that was above 50,000 that we put out to tender we would be looking for at least that in terms of the evaluation response, so in those instances as part of the tender response we would get back from suppliers we would ask them to produce specific commitments which were scored in accordance with the evaluation criteria for that particular tender. We would also, if we have got any of those sort of those smaller lower value procurements, so which were sort of around over 25,000 if we are doing an RF2 process, then it might not be appropriate to include sort of some specific commitments from suppliers but we would ask everybody to adhere to our social value charter which would then obviously include our sustainability and a sourcing code as well.
But our expectation was that we would want all of our suppliers who were thinking about sort of bidding or entering into a contract with the Games to sort of support the areas and the themes that we were working on in terms of sustainability and make sure that any commitments that they were going to be offering as part of their tender response were sort of realistic, achievable and something which could actually demonstrate that they were making a genuine impact because it is, again, it is something that obviously is key now in all procurements or businesses kind of looking at they can become more sustainable so I think it is something that we did not have like a one size fits all approach. So we would have as part of our tender evaluation we would have sort of a table of commitments and based on the nature of the service or based on what suppliers... again as you mentioned if you are sort of a bigger supplier you might be able to sort of commit more or you might be able to sort of push through some more sort of innovative ideas but again it would be as a minimum we would ask everybody to sign up to the sourcing code and the social value charter.
Ben: And you think...sorry...
Ben: No, no, please...
Sally: No, go on.
Ben: I was...
Sally: I was going to say...
Ben: No, right I am going stop - you go again Sally.
Sally: Okay, I was going to say, and as part of it what we would do to make sure that any commitments that we do get through from one of our suppliers, that actually forms part of the contract, so then going forward throughout the life of the contract that would be reported on during sort of our contract management meetings and I will come onto a bit later about how we actually recorded that through the portal that we used to evidence that those commitments people made are actually seen through to the end.
Ben: And I was going to say, do you think that that... were people just sort of... were suppliers signing up to this stuff to keep you happy and to win the work but then going back to their old ways, you know, now or do you think you sort of had some long-term influence amongst the supply chain who are like 'well, actually this is a really good thing to do and we should do this more often and this is now our operating... this is the way we are going to do it'?
Sally: Yes, to be honest I think we did because it is something that I think organisations and businesses are more aware of now about looking at how they can become more sustainable and because it is something that if you are bidding for work in sort of like a public sector process that is something that is really key and I think in most instances as I have mentioned before we sort of did 10% rating for the evaluation but we did have some cases where we might have upped that to 20 and I think it is something that is really key and how we measured and monitored social value from our perspective because we used, we contracted the social value portal with our evidence based tool and I think it just gave all the organisations the opportunity to then showcase what they have done, what they have committed and it's something that they can take away for sort of potential future bids or moving onto something else. So I think by including it as part of our processes in all of the contracts we delivered at the Games I do think it has made a difference to how people are thinking about sustainability and what they might be able to do in the future if they have not done to kind of secure future work and also just to improve their own business working practices as well.
Ben: Perfect, and are you able to give a bit of insight as to when you go to 20% rather than 10% as to what kinds of... was that sort of particular types of suppliers or particular types of services or just because you thought actually it is really important that we have a higher target for this kind of stuff?
Sally: Yes, I mean in some of the ones, let's say like in catering we might have looked for a higher percentage because we would want people to focus on, you know, thinking about recycling, what... you know, what they are actually going be using at sort of the output of waste and things like that, so it was not as I said before, it is just 10%, there are instances where we did think that we needed to place a higher emphasis on that, so yes, catering, some of the catering contracts were just one example of where we did and increase the waiting.
Ben: Perfect. And before we sort of talk more about how the Organising Committee reported in and communicated with its stakeholders, obviously they could not do that without the data that your suppliers were giving them and we see this with our clients, they have hundreds of suppliers, they have got their own corporate reporting, whether it is a regulatory, you know mandated thing or a voluntary thing, and it is no good getting data in different formats with different units of measurement the day before your report, you know, and you have got to translate it all and I guess in some respects you might have been a bit lucky because you did not have loads of overseas suppliers, may be you did I do not know, but how did you get that data from your suppliers to give to Jess and her team to do something magic with?
Sally: So we contracted with Social Value Portal so that was the platform that we used to be able to ask for all of the commitments to be inputted into the system because we mapped all of our commitments from the contract TOMS so the themes outcomes and measures, so we asked suppliers to sort of identify credible targets for any commitments that they included as part of their tender response, and which again would form part of the contract, so that we could then monitor them during the life of the contract, and I think by using Social Value Portal we worked with the supplier so they would actually input those commitments into the portal and then during the life of the contract they would then add in their evidence as to how they have actually achieved that particular commitment that they have had as one of their measures, and then from there we are able to generate reports, where to get all of that data kind of across all of our contracts as opposed to just looking at the things on a contract by contract basis. So then as part of valuation and so the passing on some of our knowledge onto the next Games that are going to be in Victoria, as a whole we can kind of show what kind of commitments we have been able to deliver and achieve as an organisation, not just on a contract by contract level, and I think by using something like Social Value Portal it is also a good tool as well for suppliers at the end of the contract to be able to see what they have actually delivered and that is sort of the evidence that they can then also use as an organisation to show what they have achieved and if they are moving on to sort of bid for future work, that is a really good showcase to use, and coming back to your point reporting, I think by having a centralised system like that it just meant that it was easy then to produce those reports if sort of Jess or anybody in her team needed to see what had been delivered, they have got access, and there are sort of different reporting mechanisms you can use off that tool and also we are reporting into sort of any of our government board or sort of EMT then we are able to give them the higher level overview of what we are achieving in terms of social value and sustainability.
Ben: Perfect, and did you have a big stick to hit people with if they did not report properly or how, you know, did everyone play the game?
Sally: In parts most did. I think once people sort of realised how the portal will benefit their company as well and sort of be able to showcase what they are doing, and sort of what they could gain from it as opposed to just saying "yeah I have done that in terms of this contract", I think we did get more buy in, but again it is like anything, if it is a new tool or something that people are not used to, it is just kind of explaining what the benefits are, and that is part of what we are doing now is that we are closing out all of our contracts. We need to make sure that all of our suppliers before we kind of close them out completely have actually demonstrated that they have committed and are able to evidence any of those sustainability commitments they have made as part of their contract.
Ben: Yes, and sort of the final question really on supply chains and procurement for me is that again a lot of our clients are saying helpfully can you ESG-ify our supply contract, like what does that mean, it is a new word, ESG-ifying, but I think essentially we sort of I guess we need to go and do some monitoring and auditing of our supply chains, you know, whether there is a spot check or because there has been potential breaches for example with commodities from the rainforest and what have you. Again, did you have that kind of experience that you needed to go in and do monitoring, auditing, spending time with suppliers to make sure that what they said they were doing they really are and not just relying on their reporting?
Sally: Yes, I mean in some cases we did do. I think it has picked up during sort of all of the contract management and the monitoring meetings and if there is anything that is identified as a potential risk or any concerns that we have got then the contract managers would delve deeper into the supplier to make sure that, like you say, they are actually delivering, it is not just that they are doing like a tick box exercise to show that we have done something, we do actually want that evidence based approach because we need to make sure that from obviously from our own purposes from the legacy audit perspective that all of these commitments that we have contracted you know part of them winning a particular contract would be on what they said. So we need to make sure that we have got that evidence based approach to show that they have actually achieved what they had set out to do so if needed then we would delve deeper into looking what people are delivering.
Ben: Perfect, ok. So we have sort of set the strategy and then we have started to implement it and we have pushed it down our supply chain and all has gone really well, so now comes the sort of telling the story I guess and communicating it to stakeholders. Now I am curious Jess and we will talk in a minute but I guess you know you have a number of stakeholders, again like our commercial clients they have got their employees internally, they have got their shareholders, they have got their customers, they have got lenders, all sorts of different folk going on. Did you find one group of stakeholders harder to please than the others or were they all as demanding and challenging as to what you had achieved?
Sally: I guess you are always going to have challenges with an event being sustainable, you are always going to have people that say "well that is not sustainable, that is not sustainable", I think it was a case sometimes of being quite realistic around the steps we have taken and the things we have really focussed on and areas where there are compromise and the approach we always try to take to the team was to be as transparent of that as we would be, to being really clear about our approach to carbon neutral legacy that it is going to take time and the reason why we have chosen that approach, so I think for us we really tried to focus on that transparency key, so a few examples would be, you know on the website we have got our carbon management plan on the website from really early days, that is a 30 odd page report that is really quite in-depth in terms of the approach we are taking, and we really tried I guess to use that approach around transparency to explain the approach we are taking and be quite honest with the fact that you cannot get everything right, and I think that a short timescale we were working to we are quite clear with the fact that we could not get everything right, that these were the steps we are taking, this is what is advanced from a previous Games, and trying to sort of I guess give that evidence and explain the approach we have taken. So I would definitely say that you know there are definitely people that would critique the approach but our approach to that was to lean into it and to be transparent with it.
Ben: Yes, and I think that mirrors with the sort of advice we give you, the authenticity that you know for something so new, something so complicated, as you say you are not going to keep everyone happy, so you have just got to be honest about your successes and your failures and what you are going to do is sort of next year or the year after and I guess that does not apply so much to you but ...
Jess: I guess that is one of our challenges that we do not have an opportunity to kind of do it again but one thing you know we are really keen to make sure that we do pass on our lessons to I guess sporting events but also if there are applicable things beyond sporting events as well to sort of pick up on those lessons. So we are just in a process at the moment of writing a full post games sustainability report, it is a quite detailed view of case studies, examples, data, to be as transparent as we can, and you know I guess the reflections at the end are very much we have not got everything right but hopefully we have you know created a benchmark or could help pass this on to future events, so we are aiming to publish that by the end of the week actually.
Ben: Oh right, coming up. And did you have different methods of communication with different stakeholders, you know the people with the tickets turning up ... spectators. Did they want their sustainability information delivered to them differently from your internal colleagues who would perhaps be more invested in it?
Sally: Yes, I had quite a few different approaches I guess depending on the audience group, so for example we would have internal people, so how can I help make this sustainable role or from the spectator perspective, we definitely lent into that view of how you as a spectator also have a role to play so get on the bus do not drive, you know, those kind of messages, the fact that they also had a role to make this sustainable I think was as important part of that. Again, like I say on the website we try to be as transparent with the area we focussed on and the approach we have taken so that was an important aspect. Athletes was another group for us. There are some really passionate athletes out there around the climate sports space and I think we learnt in some of those conversations but I wish we had a bit earlier to be honest, there is a bit more to tap into there because there are some really strong advocates of sport and sustainability and I think they potentially have such a unique voice that engaging that wider audience, you know, to really kind of get them behind the idea of why it is so important, so athletes and other groups, suppliers equally, you know how do you make this a reality, what do we need from you, how can we work together, what innovations can we explore, so of course it is very much depending upon the audience and we have to flex that accordingly.
Ben: Perfect. So I have got one more question so I would encourage people in the audience to use the Q&A function, do not be shy, please do ping it through. But Jess you mentioned that you are publishing your sustainability report and you hoped that other events, other sporting events will at least read it but also take note of your recommendations and so forth. Do you think you have been the most sustainable Games ever, do you think, and how do other events benefit from your learning?
Jess: Yes, so I think we quite clearly, I guess that carbon neutral legacy, from what we can tell from any benchmarking that has not been done in that way before so it is quite a nice and a unique position in terms of that perspective. I think the areas that I am proud of and the fact that we have actually got some strong examples of reduction. With that sort of reduction first approach and actually from a public transport perspective which makes over 50% of our carbon footprint we very much encourage people to get on public transport rather than drive, and it was really successfully taken up so I think that sort of potential for behaviour change is a potential for other events to take on that model is something quite interesting. I think there are some examples around energy how we thought a bit differently about that using mains, power, predominantly rather than temporary energy. So those sort of reduction first examples are the areas that I had gone to say we did things a little bit differently here, but naturally also the I guess the approach of Severn Trent and that partnership with them, it is quite unique, it is a big ambition, you know it is a long term piece, but that does have such many benefits for the region, I think that legacy that you can kind of lean on is also a really positive thing for future events to take on as well.
Ben: Perfect, ok. We have had a question, so someone has been brave, so thank you for that. I do not know if you can click on it Jess and have a look, but the question is, will the need for specific or bold requirements be built into subsequent Commonwealth Games Organising Committee specification, so for example, bolder supply chain requirements, ISO 2012 1. I guess a little hard for you to say because you are not quite sure what future organising committees will do, but I think you mentioned Victoria, and I know Edmonton are thinking possibly about future Games after that. Are people looking closely at what you have done and seeing if they can go deeper?
Sally: I was going to say, we are I think Jess mentioned it, and I think I briefly mentioned it, what we are doing is part of sort of our work is looking at sort of the lessons learnt, what has gone well in terms of sort of sustainability and procurement space for us and it is looking at sort of what we have achieved as an organisation as well and passing on all of that information to the next Games, so I think as it was you know a massive important part of one of our aims and to the legacy that we wanted to leave behind in Birmingham, I think it is going to be at the forefront of the next organising committee as well because you know sustainability, like we have said is such a big thing and organisations do need to think about it if they are looking to sort of bid for work, so all of our lessons hopefully for the next Games will look at and build on and hopefully develop more than what we have done here.
Ben: Perfect, and I guess something a bit difficult in Australia isn't it because everyone is going to be flying in, it is really, may be Birmingham was a bit more, may it was not easier to get to by plane I do not know, just thinking that Australia being in the middle of not nowhere but there is a bigger transport issue I guess in Australia than there is for us, but anyway moving on showing my lack of geography.
Right, so another question we have had, you mentioned Jess the tree planting which sounds fab but are there any other measures which have been taken which will have the sort of this legacy, this long term positive impact on the Birmingham area?
Jess: I guess the first one is there is a much broader legacy programme then just sustainability but I can talk more in detail on the sustainability aspects so another few things that we were looking at doing was around sort of education. So we created two carbon literacy training courses which is a case of educating people around carbon, demystifying it a bit, helping people understand what they can do as an individual, what they can do in their businesses. So there are two courses we developed, one which was for citizens of the region and also volunteers, we have got to try to push it out to our volunteering population. So that course is freely available, the combined authorities sort of owning it for us and helping us to take that forward as the Organising Committee dissolves. But the hope there is that very much does help that behaviour change and that is changing them and understanding around carbon.
We have also pulled together a sports specific one, so freely available again to sports clubs, to help them understand where they can start thinking about carbon footprinting and where they can focus their effort.
So there is two I guess legacy education pieces there. There is also some really nice examples that came through our dissolution work, so for the Games we generally had a higher over vibe sort of mentality but where that was not possible when we did have you know items left post Games we really did focus on how we can benefit the region from that perspective so 16,000 items of sporting equipment were put out to sort of community groups to bid for a charity. There is some really lovely stories coming out of that. We also had some interesting stuff and weird and wonderful things coming out of athlete villages that we also gave out to charities, headquarter furniture for example. So loads of charities and community groups have benefited from physical assets of the Games as well. There is a really nice example working with a charity called Active Wellbeings Society who have now used two of our community vehicles as sort of mobile share shacks, so these will have things in it that you might want to use as a community group but you do not necessarily need to buy and these mobile share shacks have been going around the region for free. So there are some lovely examples coming out from a dissolution perspective as well. So I guess from a legacy perspective and more broadly there is loads of great work happening, the 2022 programme, there is loads of other work happening in that so I guess my focus is more on environmental status.
Ben: Perfect. Thank you and thank you for correcting me, yes, it is not Edmonton, it is Hamilton.
Final question from me is would you do it again? Sally?
Sally: What work on the Games?
Sally: Yes definitely. I think it has been such a ... it is one of those sort of one off opportunities to get involved in something like this (a) because it is on your doorstep anyway because I live in the West Midlands and just to be part of, you know, not just delivering that event over the 10 day period but also you know all of the things that Jess has just spoken about Ben, the whole legacy, you know, everything that you are doing to develop the local economy, develop local community groups, generating kind of jobs for people, just to be part of something like that has just been such a brilliant opportunity.
Ben: Perfect. Jess I assume you are similarly positive?
Jess: Exactly yes. I think the point you made around that sort of conversations and opportunities to work with other partners and suppliers have helped them around their sustainability journey and be part of that movement forward is definitely something that I have really enjoyed.
Ben: Perfect. Well thank you both not just for speaking to us today but thank you for everything you did for the Games. It was fantastic and I know Gowling and many of our clients and colleagues really enjoyed going to the event so thank you for being part of that and putting on such a great show for us.
Thank you very much to everyone for attending, really appreciate it, thank you for your questions. If what you have heard today and I am sure it has wet your appetite and you are now sort of cracking your knuckles thinking right I am going to crack on and sort out my own organisation sustainability strategy, a short plug if I may. My colleagues in Canada are hosting, putting on a webinar tomorrow at 5pm UK time on Issue Spotting, it is going to be a first of three ESG webinars, so yes, the first one tomorrow at 5pm, How to Spot Issues and how to sort of do that mapping exercise that Jess talked us through at the beginning, so if you google Gowling ESG webinar, it is likely to feature in the top one or two results.
Sally/Jess, thank you once again. Unfortunately by being virtual we cannot give you a round of applause but I am sure everyone at home is clapping politely if not slightly awkwardly by themselves, so thank you both very much for speaking, it has been really insightful, you both deserve your holidays certainly when that sustainability report is published Jess, thank you very much for that. Thanks very much.
Sally/Jess: Thank you.
Read the original article on GowlingWLG.com
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.