Sustainability Is in Focus for Cultural Heritage Conference in Sydney

hand dropping wooden block on stack of wooden blocks

Around 1,500 cultural heritage experts from around the world are set to meet in Sydney for the General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS GA2023) in September 2023, marking the first time the event is held in Australia or the Pacific region.

Here is seven ways local host Australia ICOMOS is incorporating sustainability into GA2023.

Achieving Carbon Neutrality

Australia ICOMOS aims to make GA2023 a carbon-neutral event. This means action will be taken to minimize its carbon footprint; then, net carbon emissions caused by the event will be offset by purchasing carbon credits.

The event’s collaborators will be making their contributions, as well. GA2023 corporate patron EarthCheck will manage ICOMOS GA2023’s carbon neutral calculations. Arinex, Australia ICOMOS’s event management company, is already certified carbon neutral.

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ICOMOS is encouraging attendees to purchase carbon offsets for their travel to and from the event, to use public transport during the event or stay at hotels within walking distance of the venue.

Offsetting Travel with Airline Partner

Australia ICOMOS has the support of Qantas, through the airline’s Future Planet Program, to match every carbon offset purchased by attendees of GA2023. Qantas will also track and report on the carbon impact of any Qantas travel associated with the general assembly and on any offsetting that attendees purchase.

Qantas will provide special discounts for attendees on every available Qantas flight internationally and domestically for 10 days either side of GA2023.

Developing a Sustainability Guide

Australia ICOMOS has developed a sustainability guide which contains recommendations to assist in the sustainable organization of the event.

The guide covers all aspects of an event, from planning and choice of venue to event promotion and catering, with options to save energy and minimize waste.

Prioritizing Aboriginal Procurement

An Aboriginal Procurement Policy is creating opportunities for Aboriginal-owned businesses and encouraging Aboriginal employment through the supply chain of GA2023.

For example, Aboriginal suppliers are being sourced for sustainable event satchels, as well as catering for a day tour to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Australia ICOMOS will report on its performance in achieving Aboriginal procurement targets to the GA2023 Indigenous Advisory Panel and the GA2023 Organizing Committee.

Minimizing Paper and Plastic

Australia ICOMOS aims to minimize the use of paper and plastic throughout the event.

Attendees will receive sustainable name badges with bamboo ribbon lanyards. The lanyards can be repurposed after the event for use as USB lanyards. The event will supply reusable water bottles and delegates will be encouraged to bring their own cups.

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Paper programs and other hand-outs will be minimized by using a GA2023 app and website, which will include the conference program and abstracts.

Selecting a Sustainable Venue

GA2023’s main venue, the ICC Sydney, is part of a recognized Green Precinct, awarded six stars under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Communities certification, and with a Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

ICC Sydney’s waste reduction program targets 75% of operational waste diversion from the landfill. Bottled water has been replaced by water stations to allow attendees to refill their reusable bottles. Rainwater collected from the exhibition roof provides 100% of irrigation demands and 63% of toilet flushing demands.

The venue also receives 5% of its energy from a community-funded solar energy project, equivalent to powering more than 100 homes every year.

Sourcing Local Catering

Food and wine provided by ICC Sydney is sourced from local producers, reducing food miles and energy emissions. Solar hot water is supplied to kitchens. All uneaten food is donated to charity partners Mathew Talbot Hostel and OzHarvest, to feed those in need or repurposed as fertilizer and green energy.

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