Brisbane: A leader in sustainable events

Brisbane leads the way as Australia’s fastest-growing sustainable destination as it prepares for the future and looks forward to hosting what will be its biggest event ever.

As a city known for its clean air and carbon neutral governance, it’s no surprise that Brisbane was recently named Australia’s most improved city when it comes to sustainability. In the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Australia’s third largest city has made strides in its mission to become one of the world’s most sustainable destinations.

Brisbane has been implementing a number of initiatives to position itself as a sustainable destination, including acquiring bushland, implementing a low-emissions bus fleet and encouraging a number of venues and events to become attractive to eco-conscious business event decision makers and visitors.

The combination of these efforts has boosted the River City’s green credentials in the 2022 Global Destination Sustainable (GDS) Index, raising its score by six points to 71 per cent.

Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) CEO, Anthony Ryan, said being part of the GDS Index sets a high bar to be a global leader in sustainability.

“We want to be one of the most sustainable destinations in the world and since joining the index in 2019 we’ve continued to improve at a rapid pace,” Ryan said.

“We are dedicated to improving Brisbane’s ranking to help attract more people and business to Brisbane, whether that’s attracting eco-conscious travellers to event organisers and purpose-led investors.”

Competing against the best

Brisbane was ranked across Environmental, Social, Supplier and Destination Management categories, benchmarking the city against global sustainability leaders Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

In early 2023, BEDA will progress its sustainability plans with the rollout of a destination eco-certification program for the city with State Government funding support.

The program will work towards a globally recognised sustainability certification through EarthCheck – a certification, consulting and advisory group for sustainable destinations and tourism – for the city, including a roll-out of tourism industry training to assist local businesses on their sustainability journey.

Ryan said there is a great opportunity to work with venues, hotels and restaurants to become local leaders in sustainability.

“There are already several Brisbane businesses and venues leading the charge,” he said.

“From Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre and Tangalooma Island Resort achieving platinum and gold EarthCheck certification respectively to Howard Smith Wharves’ national accolades for their ingenious sustainability practices.”

Local venues leading the way

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s platinum certification stems from the venue’s commitment to sustainability and recertification was awarded after an audit by EarthCheck, which means it adheres to the highest international standards of sustainability practices.

The Howard Smith Wharves event spaces focus on local and responsibly sourced menu items while providing clients with in-depth information on sustainability practices as a driver of decisions when it comes to selecting an appropriate venue for their function.

While the Sunshine State’s capital outperformed Sydney and Melbourne in terms of sustainability improvement, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, said the city’s green and clean credentials continue to grow.

“This year we made history by becoming the first Australian city to be awarded the United Nation Habitat’s Sustainable Development Goals Cities Global Initiatives Silver Certification,” Schrinner said.

A collaborative approach to climate-positive events

As Brisbane is committed to hosting the first climate-positive Olympic and Paralympic Games, hospitality and accommodation venues will help lead the way to making that a success with many brands committed to shaping a more sustainable future of travel.

Novotel Brisbane Southbank, as part of the global Accor goal to be net positive by 2050, has already moved to eliminate all single-use plastic items in guest rooms, meeting areas, restaurant and leisure activities from the beginning of 2023. Sofitel Brisbane Central has replaced all miniature amenities bottles with 400ml pumps across the hotel while also eliminating single use plastics.

Whether impactful environmental outcomes are driven by hotels and event venues or Brisbane’s decision makers, the city has become well placed to not only deliver sustainable events but to showcase its environmental focus and leadership to the entire world in the lead up to hosting the largest event in its history.

“Brisbane’s commitment to hosting the first climate-positive Olympic and Paralympic Games will see it set a new global standard in sustainable event management,” Schrinner said.

“With sustainability at our core, Brisbane continues to be a leading city to visit, work, meet and do business.”


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