Brisbane’s Strategy for a Sustainable Olympic Legacy Towards 2032

12th Jun, 2024
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Recently, HQ Magazine’s Managing Director, Vivian Xu, sat down with two leading figures from Brisbane’s events scene. Kim Guesdon (pictured above) , General Manager of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC), and Alison Gardiner (pictured below), who is responsible for Strategy Development & Implementation in the Greater Brisbane Area, shared insights into the transformative journey Brisbane is on in the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This insightful conversation with Guesdon and Gardiner highlights Brisbane’s forward-thinking strategies to build for the 2032 Olympic Games and the legacy that will follow. The city is not only investing in infrastructure and events but is also deeply committed to sustainability and fostering a vibrant, interconnected scientific and industrial community that values innovation, collaboration and the profound legacy of international events.

Vivian Xu: We’ve read the BCEC's 2023 report, and Brisbane’s achievements last year were remarkable, delivering the best results in your 30-year history and setting the stage for an exciting 2024. As a significant venue and stakeholder in the city, what strategies are in place for the Olympics?

Kim Guesdon: The BCEC, in collaboration with the Brisbane Economic Development Agency, has spent over 18 months crafting a comprehensive growth strategy focusing on city-wide development. As a venue, we’re exploring automation and strategic positioning to ensure we can successfully implement and benefit from this strategy, laying the groundwork for the forthcoming growth, particularly as we approach the Olympics.

VX: Sustainability is a key focus for the BCEC. Can you elaborate on your approach to green and zero-carbon policies that align with the SDGs?

KG: Absolutely. We’ve recently appointed our first Sustainability and Community Engagement Advisor, tasked with aligning our operations with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This move builds on our existing EarthCheck Platinum accreditation, an elite group of venues from around the world that operate to the highest level of international environmental standards. It's about integrating SDG alignment across all operational practices, making it a foundational focus for our journey towards the Olympics.

VX: Alison, could you share more about the conventions you're attracting to Brisbane, particularly with a focus on sustainability?

Alison Gardiner: Brisbane’s journey to 2032 is not just about enhancing our profile; it's about comprehensively embracing sustainable development goals. Through our BCEC’s Convention Advocates Partnership*, we’re collaborating closely with universities and partners to attract conferences that resonate with the technologies and solutions pivotal for sustainable global change. From AI to energy transitions, we’re aligning our event portfolio with innovations that propel us, Brisbane, Queensland and Australia into a new industrial era.

VX: How does the partnership with the universities enrich Brisbane's events ecosystem, especially for the new generation of university professionals?

AG: Our decade-long Convention Advocates Partnership is entering a new phase, bringing in the next generation of leading academics to Brisbane, as well as fantastic conferences and priority sectors such as biomedical. This initiative ensures a continuous infusion of fresh ideas and perspectives, which is particularly crucial given the rapid technological advancements. We’re also hosting sector dinners to facilitate dialogue among university leaders, government, and industry to chart the future course of key sectors.

VX: Is there a platform for the younger generation to connect, network and engage within this ecosystem?

AG: Absolutely. As part of the Convention Advocates Partnership, we’ve started to do salon evenings where we find really interesting speakers and invite advocates who are interested in the event. They can bring another colleague, it could be a junior colleague, a postdoctoral fellow, a junior associate or fellow professor. The speaker could be the Lord Mayor talking about Brisbane’s journey or the Brisbane Olympic Organising Committee discussing how the city will grow and change. It’s a way of harnessing their love for Brisbane. They get interesting information, they bring their colleagues along so we get to know them better, and they see that we're all pulling in the same direction for where our city is going. This initiative is part of our legacy programme for the Olympic journey.

Networking is a key factor. Take the example of the very first cancer vaccine, developed by Professor Ian Frazer from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, who met his co-developer at a conference. That’s how the Gardasil vaccine against HPV (human papillomavirus) has been saving lives from cervical cancer for many years. It’s about connecting people, the importance of conferences and the value they bring. For us in Brisbane, it’s wonderful that we now have this group of over 80 advocates, and they're specifically focused on priority areas where we know we're really strong and well-led, and it's just been a pleasure to work with them.


*BCEC's signature Convention Advocates Partnership is a select group of influencers, including some of Australia's top scientists and researchers, business leaders, and innovators, who collaborate with the BCEC to put Brisbane's science and innovation leadership on the global agenda.

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