Katie Barton-Harvey, a proud Southern Gold Coast local, is the Sustainability Marketing Manager at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC). Part of the GOLDOC team since 2013, Katie shares the vision and actions already taken to achieve the Games’ ambitious sustainability legacy.
How would you define ‘Sustainability’ in a Games context?
At its highest level, delivering a sustainable GC2018 is about identifying and managing our key impacts across three intersecting themes: our environment, our economy, and our society.
Managing environmental impacts is an important aspect of GC2018 delivery. We’ve got amazing natural assets on the Gold Coast; the Hinterland, sunshine, clean air as well as beautiful beaches, creeks and waterways. Our focus is to protect the health of these by treading as lightly as possible and reducing use of pollutants such as plastic bags and helium balloons.
We’re also working hard to limit our carbon emissions and reduce waste to landfill through innovative waste management practices in line with the Waste and Recovery Hierarchy (avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, dispose). Demonstrating leadership in the area will encourage other operators in the region to adopt more sustainable practices.
We recognise that our work to manage environmental impacts has a natural flow on effect for our local economy and community. The more we recycle, the more we divert from Gold Coast landfills. The cleaner our oceans, the stronger our tourism proposition is. The more people use active, public and shared (carpooling) transport the less greenhouse gases we emit therefore the less pollution in the air.
From an economic perspective, GOLDOC will procure a significant amount of goods and services to deliver GC2018. In order to responsibly manage our supply chain and enhance our sustainability performance we have developed a Sustainable Sourcing Code and Materials and Packaging Policy for all suppliers and sponsors. These documents are available online and can serve as a guide for other events and businesses.
Social sustainability is also about inclusion, diversity and accessibility. We will be staging an event that welcomes participation by people of every gender, race, socio-economic status, orientation or ability with a particular emphasis on eliminating barriers (physical or otherwise) to a safe, independent and dignified GC2018 experience.
What are some of the initiatives you are involved with/spearheading for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games?
It was part of the Bid commitment to deliver a sustainable GC2018 and when I got the job at GOLDOC I was so excited to meet the Sustainability and Legacy Manager, Chelli Easson on my first day and assist in weaving in sustainability messaging into our brand.
Sustainability is the responsibility of every staff member and by integrating sustainability into every functional area at GOLDOC and with the support of our CEO Mark Peters and Chairman Peter Beattie we have achieved a top down/bottom up approach to sustainability at GOLDOC.
The enabling framework that the sustainability team have set up is really impressive and has allowed us to identify our key sustainability priorities for GC2018. The priorities were identified through extensive consultation with our delivery partners and community stakeholders.
We’ve achieved the city’s first 4 Star Green Star - Interiors PILOT Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia for the fit-out of our Games Headquarters (GHQ) at Ashmore. As part of the fit-out we used local experts for the construction and materials and even repurposed floorboards from an old basketball court for our reception panelling. Our recycling practices are industry -leading with 12 colour coded recycling streams in place at GHQ.
In the accessibility space we focus on universal design and inclusion. Staff participated in an Accessibility Challenge last year where team members spent a day in a wheelchair and raised funds for the local wheelchair basketball team.
GC2018 is also the first major event to deliver a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in Australian and Commonwealth Games history. I sit near the RAP team and their work in this field is really inspiring. We’ve got such a rich history on the Gold Coast and as part of the RAP program we’ve had Cultural Awareness training delivered by a local indigenous business Baanam.
What do you believe we can achieve in the sustainability space in the next decade?
The opportunities are endless. In the event space, we see huge potential to share the GC2018 sustainability experience with other major and local events.
GOLDOC’s vision for sustainability is to demonstrate leadership in sustainability by delivering GC2018 to international standards of best practice, leaving positive economic, environmental, social and community legacies.
One of those legacies will be knowledge transfer around best practice for sustainable event management. We want to transfer as much of our learning to future events as possible.
There is also a lot the community and businesses can start doing now to reduce the amount of single-use disposable items in our environment such as:
My family and I live out in Currumbin Valley with rain water tanks, solar panels and have planted lots of tropical fruit trees and vegetables. We’re on the Southern Gold Coast for the long term and are excited to see the collaborative approach being undertaken on the Gold Coast towards a more sustainable future.