Brisbane’s Sustainable Legacy Shapes Meetings Landscape

26th June 2024

Host city of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the bustling Queensland capital with an enviable sub-tropical lifestyle recently claimed a spot in TIME Magazine’s World’s Greatest Places 2023 and in The New York Times' prestigious 52 Places to Go in 2024.

Brisbane’s natural beauty and cultural offerings attract leisure travellers worldwide, but it’s its robust economic and sustainability credentials and proximity to bucket list Australian experiences that make it an enticing choice for planners.

As an emerging global leader in sustainability, Brisbane is poised to redefine business events as the host city for the world’s first ‘climate positive’ 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Its commitment to enduring advancements across various industries aligns seamlessly with its trajectory toward a sustainable future, inviting the global business community to join in this experience.

Situated in the heart of the Asia Pacific region, Brisbane is a vibrant hub of investment, development, and innovation, particularly in technology, agriculture, healthcare, and resources. This makes it an ideal destination for global conferences and events, as evidenced by its successful hosting of major international business events in the past year, including the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science, FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the World Mining Congress.

Building on Business Appeal

Fuelling this momentum is a sweeping city transformation that includes $25B in infrastructure development to support a predicted $275B economy by 2041, further positioning Brisbane as a destination to visit, meet and do business. 

A linchpin in this transformation is the AUD $3.6B Queen’s Wharf Brisbane precinct and, at its heart, The Star Brisbane’s state-of-the-art event centre complete with Brisbane’s largest hotel ballroom, serviced by four future luxury hotels.

Queen’s Wharf Brisbane is the first development in Brisbane to be awarded the coveted 6-Star Green Star Communities rating in recognition of its social, environmental and economic sustainability designs.

The Star Brisbane Chief Operating Officer Hospitality Kelvin Dodt said “From prioritising renewable energy, harvesting rainwater, recycling grey water and composting organic food waste, to our carbon abatement project, Corymbia, we are proud to contribute to a sustainable future”.

Sustainability: The Key to Success

Queen’s Wharf Brisbane’s innovation exemplifies a city-wide commitment to grow Brisbane into one of the world’s most sustainable destinations. 

Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) is Brisbane’s convention bureau and champions the adoption of sustainable practices to meet the rapidly changing needs and expectations of visitors and delegates alike.

This includes supporting the broader visitor economy to participate in the Eco-Certified Tourism Destination Program facilitated by EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for sustainable travel and tourism.

“Brisbane’s sustainability commitment hinges on a whole-of-city approach encompassing accessibility, inclusion, diversity, business practices, transport integration and First Nations engagement,” Lorelle Chittick, BEDA’s General Manager Tourism, Business & Major Events said.

“Brisbane stands as the only Australian city to achieve the prestigious gold-level accreditation under the United Nations’ SDGs Cities Global Initiative, making it the second city globally to attain this recognition. This achievement highlights Brisbane’s dedication to key benchmarks such as empowering women and girls, ensuring affordable and clean energy access, and promoting responsible consumption and production”.

Innovation Drives Iconic Venues

Globally acclaimed Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC), a leader in Brisbane’s business community, has been committed to sustainability since it first opened in 1985 and embeds its business strategy and priorities through the lens of the UN’s Sustainability Goals.

BCEC has achieved Earthcheck Platinum Accreditation, reflecting twelve years of rigorous recertification audits and ensuring compliance with the highest international environmental standards. 

This globally recognized certification encompasses various sustainability initiatives. Daylight harvesting via LED lighting and a daylight harvesting system reduce the Centre’s energy demand by 50%. Solar panels on the roof contribute significantly to base-load power requirements. 

Recycling efforts result in 51% of waste being recycled. Rainwater harvesting, storing 1,000,000 liters in subterranean tanks, supports sanitation and irrigation needs throughout the facility. ‘Herbie,’ the organic dehydrator, reduces organic food waste by up to 80%, transforming it into high-concentrate soil fertilizer for community use across Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Additionally, the Centre’s Containers for Change program has raised over $50,000 for local charities, and its partnership with the EcoMarines Foundation fosters community education, awareness, and participation in local conservation efforts.

“Best practice sustainability and environmental governance is at the heart of our work here at BCEC and a key reason why are staff are so committed and proud to work at BCEC, welcoming guests from around the world and across Australia every day and knowing that we are playing our part in making a better world for future generations”, said BCEC General Manager Kym Guesdon.

A Future-Focused World View

Brisbane’s aim to host the world’s inaugural ‘climate positive’ Olympics in 2032 has thrust the city into the global spotlight, highlighting a legacy of environmental, business, social, and cultural sustainability, with a focus on advancing the circular economy.

BEDA’s First Nations Relationship Building Program celebrates the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Indigenous communities. By empowering delegates to engage directly with these communities, the program fosters cultural understanding, collaboration, and paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Accessibility is a cornerstone of social sustainability, with BEDA leading efforts to ensure local businesses and venues address accessibility challenges. This fosters an inclusive environment where everyone can actively participate in events.

“The city-wide $25B infrastructure project will catapult Brisbane into a new realm with new venues, a seamlessly integrated transport network and a beautiful, walkable city that exceeds delegates’ expectations,” Ms Chittick said.

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