I wrote a lot before the Olympics about the potential longer term benefits of a sustainable approach to the management of the games. So at what point is it appropriate to start asking about the results? In terms of the dreaded word “legacy,” when will we know whether all the promises and pledges have actually amounted to anything?
The quick – if unhelpful – answer may be “not yet.” In fact it’s possible we won’t really be able to judge the progress made in London until we’re pretty far along with the planning for Brazil in 2016. But I believe there are several significant milestones along the way we can look out for.
Perhaps the first big tests will come in 2014 with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow offering the UK an opportunity to showcase the progress it has made, and the World Cup in Brazil offering Latin America the chance to show they’re ready to take on the mantle.
In the run up to 2014 there are industry initiatives here in Britain which can help lead the way as we adjust to the sustainable future. The most prominent of these should be the Sustainable Events Summit in January. Tickets for this event are on sale now at www.sustainableeventssummit.com and it promises to be a hugely important event (Full disclosure – Seventeen Events have run this event for the past three years and we’ve been working hard to make this year’s event just as effective).
Finally, it’s a simple truth that no matter what we do as an industry pales into insignificance besides decisions taken at a national and international level. It may be that when we come to consider the sustainable progress made in 2012 in ten or twenty years time, the key factors we look at could be the re-election of President Obama in the US, the decisions made this week by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, and the results of the 2015 UK General Election.
No matter what, I believe we will look back on the 2012 games as a milestone on a long, slow journey rather than an overnight sea change.