The Olympics are a platform for change, says gold medallist Jill Savery

Sensemaking / The Olympics are a platform for change, says gold medallist Jill Savery

Jill Savery is a former Olympic swimmer and currently Head of Sustainability for the America's Cup Event Authority. We asked her how the Games could shape the future.

27 Jul 2012

Jill Savery won an Olympic gold medal in synchronised swimming at the Atlanta Games in 1996. She has a Master's Degree in Environmental Management from Yale, and is currently Head of Sustainability for the America's Cup Event Authority. Jill also worked for the London-based sustainability charity BioRegional, where she helped to shape the plans for London 2012. She is co-author of the book 'Sustainability and Sport', published in 2011.

"Events like the Olympics are special in people's lives – a 'once in a lifetime' experience to be shared for years to come. They are also a great platform to demonstrate the way forward. As I see it, respect for the environment is a core pillar of Olympism. Athletes depend on healthy natural resources: fresh air to breathe, and clean water to swim in.

But communicating this isn't easy! The spectators are an incredibly diverse target audience: two-thirds of the planet tuned into the Olympic Games in 2008, from 200 different countries.

The London 2012 team has put a lot of thought into messaging to influence visitors during the Games. Coca-Cola has redesigned the waste receptacles for London 2012 to encourage recycling – that's one example.

The team has also developed valuable tools for the industry. There's the carbon footprinting methodology, the Food Vision, the waste management strategy. I'm working on sustainability with the America's Cup, and draw on these tools every day.

Now, we have to step up the pace of change. We also have to remember that more major events are being staged in regions that may have fewer resources to put into planning. The need to support each other and share what we've learnt is greater than ever." 

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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