Sarah Goldfinch Charts Adelaide Convention Centre's Sustainable Future

3rd May, 2024
HQ sits down with Sarah Goldfinch, the new General Manager of the Adelaide Convention Centre. As the global business events landscape continues to evolve, Goldfinch lays out her ambitious blueprint for the venue. Focusing on sustainability, legacy and impactful collaboration, she is ready to redefine the way international events are conducted. Join us as we explore Adelaide’s drive towards innovation and social responsibility in the business events industry.
As the new General Manager, what are your plans for innovation at the Adelaide Convention Centre to meet the evolving needs of international associations, with a focus on legacy and social impact?
One of the many reasons I wanted to work at the Adelaide Convention Centre was that it aligns with my passion for sustainability and showcasing what Adelaide can do on a global stage.
Adelaide Convention Centre has already done a lot in the sustainability space. Sustainability is embedded in everything we do – from our food and design to our procurement and people. I plan to build upon this great work with a focus on energy and water conservation, responsible sourcing and minimising waste in landfills, while also ensuring we continue to work closely with our clients on sustainable event management solutions. Last year, Adelaide Convention Centre became the world’s first convention centre to achieve EarthCheck’s coveted Master certification, which reflects a 15-year commitment to best practices in business, environmental and social sustainability. Not only was this great news for the centre, but our city at large, reinforcing Adelaide as a clean, green, sustainable events destination.
There’s lots we have done in the space – but plenty more to do! I’ll be working closely with our Environment Social Governance Manager to implement our new sustainability strategy, The Green Print, which maps our path to a more sustainable future. The Green Print outlines an ambitious vision to establish ourselves as a ‘force for good’ for both our community and environment through operating one of Australia’s most sustainable venues, and supporting the delivery of environmentally and socially responsible events.
My role also enables me to share my passion for Adelaide, and highlight the city as an inspiring and innovative destination, known for putting people and experiences at the centre of business events. We’re fortunate that we have the strong support of the South Australian Government, which recognises the incredible power of business events to influence and shape policy for greater social impact – and are keen to support and facilitate association business here in South Australia.
How does the Adelaide Convention Centre work with local businesses and communities to ensure international events have a positive impact on the region's economy and culture?
We’re incredibly proud of our great state and relish the opportunity to showcase it to visiting delegates, while simultaneously supporting our local supply chains and community organisations.
Just one way we engage with local businesses is via our Honest Goodness menu. Our menu is a celebration of our land, delivering delegates a ‘taste of South Australia’ with 97% of featured produce is sourced from local, sustainable environments. Our team has nurtured close relationships with suppliers to ensure that all South Australian food and beverage regions are represented.
Our menu also shines a spotlight on native Australian ingredients. To ensure a consistent supply, we have developed partnerships with First Nations producers to plant and grow produce specifically for our centre. Not only do these ingredients enhance featured dishes with their unique and diverse flavour offerings and textures, but provide a distinct connection to country and an opportunity for delegates to experience and learn about one of the world’s oldest cultures, while supporting rural Indigenous communities.
As part of our sustainability commitment, we work closely with a number of local community food rescue organisations to minimise food waste. Since 2008, we’ve donated more than 200,000 unused meals to help feed Adelaide’s hungry through the important work of Foodbank, OzHarvest and Faithworks. With the growing spotlight on sustainability in the events industry, we can facilitate connections with each of these groups to enable event organisers to directly support them via incursions as well as excursions that encourage active delegate participation and contribution.
Can you highlight some of the key initiatives the Adelaide Convention Centre has introduced to enrich international association events in South Australia and create a lasting regional legacy?
Our research and sales teams work to proactively identify and target conferences that align with South Australia’s priority sectors and have potential links to Adelaide’s innovation neighbourhoods – including Adelaide BioMed City and Lot Fourteen – as a way of assisting associations to enhance their conference programs. Adelaide has witnessed an investment explosion in innovation and infrastructure across a broad range of industries in recent years – we’re proud to help facilitate connections for associations to these networks to not only provide market-leading delegate experiences, but to open doors to support and leverage legacy and growth opportunities for visiting associations and their related industries.
Our team is currently developing a suite of partnerships with social and environmental impact organisations to create tangible benefits for our community, and provide clients with an opportunity to do ‘more good’ while visiting our city, resulting in positive, lasting legacies. By way of an example, we’re working with Backpacks for SA Kids – a local, Adelaide-based organisation that supports children who are leaving domestic violence situations to make a new start by receiving a backpack filled with essential items. Our team can facilitate direct connections with this charity to provide opportunities for delegates to donate items and/or funding, as well as participate in packing backpacks for kids in need during their visit.
Another example is our ongoing relationship with Trees for Life – a South Australian-based charity committed to re-building homes, habitats and food for endangered animal species in South Australia. Our team has shown our own support by purchasing hundreds of trees to help provide a critical habitat for the endangered Regent Parrot in South Australia’s Riverland region. Clients have a similar opportunity to lend their support by purchasing a tree for every delegate that attends their conference, ensuring a lasting environmental legacy here in South Australia.

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Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.