Fiona Pelham: Reporting from the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games 2018

Taken from the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

Taken from the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

Positive Impact's CEO Fiona Pelham is at the Commonwealth Games in Australia to report on the impressive sustainable work being done at the event.

‘Share the dream’ is the motto for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018). it’s ‘a call to action to go beyond passively observing the event.’

Event organisers around the world will always benefit from observing the themes of opening ceremonies: in fact, many event planners may find these themes echoed in their CEO’s address during annual conferences.  Here are our top 3 insights we think are useful to event professionals taken from the opening ceremony of GC2018.

In 2017, Positive Impact led a campaign to tell the story of the power of events during the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism, and asked event professionals to say why they believed events were important. Over 33% of respondents gave the same answer: events inspire behaviour change. GC2018’s motto, and the meaning behind it, sends a message to the world about the power of events to inspire, inform, and create positive change in the world.

Sustainability is no longer a point of difference theme. As people’s expectations shift it is becoming the norm, and no verbal explanations are necessary. In GC2018’s opening ceremony the finale piece was white whale Migaloo, Australia’s most well-known humpback whale, who became the backdrop for visuals that created the great barrier reef. Event organisers are responsible for providing the practical actions which demonstrate the authenticity of emotive statements, and so far, the organising committee of GC2018 are showing that they understand this.

Stakeholder engagement is the new ‘health and safety’. This opening ceremony was a game changer in its acknowledgement of indigenous culture and leadership, demonstrated through the creation of a reconciliation action plan which is likely to influence all events throughout the commonwealth. Those event organisers who don’t consider themselves likely to be working with indigenous groups soon, would be wise to view this as an example of the growing importance of stakeholder engagement. Queensland Tourism and GC2018 have spent over 4 years engaging with various stakeholders, and one example is their work with the Sustainability supply chain to create the Gold Coast as a sustainable event destination.

Read our case study about creating a roadmap for embracing 2018

An opening ceremony provides inspiration which reaches beyond those directly involved with the event, and lasts beyond the timeframe of the event. GC2018 have set the stage for an event and an experience which goes beyond our watching, and which gives us the chance to understand how our involvement can make a difference.