Today we are celebrating 500 days to go until Birmingham 2022, and we’re using this milestone to announce that, thanks to a partnership with Severn Trent, Birmingham 2022 will be the first-ever carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games.
This has always been an aspiration for us and working with Severn Trent means that we can now turn our ambition into a reality, with the Coventry-based company committing to creating 2022 acres of forest. They’ll also create 72 mini urban forests, to match the number of nations and territories hoping to compete at Birmingham 2022.
Our carbon-neutral commitment is a key part of our sustainability pledge which we’ve also published on our website today, outlining our seven-point plan to be the most sustainable Commonwealth Games in history.
The pledge also includes our commitments to promoting a circular economy, delivering conservation initiatives, setting new standards in accessibility, embedding equality, diversity and inclusion in Games delivery, promoting social value, and ensuring human rights are at the heart of the Games.
Today’s announcement follows many others that we’ve already made this year, as we make a clear transition from planning mode to delivery.
We were delighted to unveil our session competition schedule for the Games just a couple of weeks ago, revealing 286 sessions of sport will be taking place and publishing details of when medals will be won in each of our 19 sports.
The slight change to our dates last year means that we now have two full weekends of sport to look forward to. Our second super Sunday will be a particular highlight, providing a platform for women’s sport with the netball, women’s hockey’s and women’s cricket T20 finals all taking place on August 7 2022.
We’ll continue to use the Games as a way of banging the drum for women’s sport and with more Para sport than ever before, and the first ever outing for wheelchair basketball 3x3, we have so much to look forward to.
We’ve also recently announced that we are set to receive £6 million ($8.3 million/€7 million) in funding for our cultural festival which will help ensure that the Games is so much more than 11 days of fantastic sporting action.
This funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund will help us stage a six-month cultural festival for the Games - a timely boost for the cultural sector in the West Midlands in particular.
Given the circumstances, one of my highlights in recent months has been the truly impressive progress made on our major construction projects - the redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium and the building of the brand-new Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
Credit needs to go to Birmingham City Council and Sandwell Council, along with their construction partners, because they have made incredible progress at a challenging time.
In 500 days’ time we’ll be at the new-look Alexander Stadium for the Opening Ceremony. It will be a truly special moment and will no doubt start our celebrations in style.
The Birmingham 2022 workforce continues to grow at pace and I’m so proud of the team we are assembling as I know that they have the experience, knowledge and dedication to deliver a spectacular edition of the Games.
I’m still amazed by what we have been able to achieve from our homes and we are in an unusual situation where most of our workforce haven’t physically met. Twelve months ago we had about 70 members of staff and now we have more than 300, with new staff members being recruited and starting work remotely every single week.
We've been delighted to add 28 apprentices to our team in recent weeks and they’re working with several different teams across the business and already showing a clear passion and determination to use this unique opportunity to widen their skills and experience and become the event organisers of the future.
We know the next 500 days will fly by so our hard work will continue at pace and we will be building on our momentum and ramping up our activity in the coming months, with more special moments, including the launch of our volunteering and ticketing programmes coming very soon.