The Adelaide Statement – Promote Sustainability

  • February 07, 2024
Adelaide Statement Pledge – Promote Sustainability
By Neal Ames, Recreation and Open Space Planner and member of PLA Advisory

Promoting sustainability remains a key issue for park and leisure experience delivery.

As the people behind the parks our focus on sustainability includes our parks and natural spaces, our sport industry, our management practices, and the contractors and private companies that we interact with.

When we think of sustainability we mainly think about the changing dynamics and challenges on our natural spaces. As climate change has become more of a factor in our lives, and in the management of our places and spaces, the strategies, including mitigation for the impacts of climate change on our public open spaces, have moved from the fringe to the mainstream. It is a rare strategy or document that gets produced by any level of government that does not cover off on the impact of extreme climate events on our parks.

However, PLA recognises that the concept of sustainability is much broader than just the impacts of natural biosystems on our parks. Because we are an organisation who has two major outcomes, the sustainable management of our public open spaces, AND the goal of creating a healthy and active community, the sustainability of our sport and recreation ecosystem is also our goal.

Over the last decade we have seen a seismic shift in the way that Australians undertake their sport, and their physical activity, as demonstrated by data being produced by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) through their Ausplay dataset, as well as a number of researchers working in the field.

Many of us have grown up in the heady days of almost 80% of Australians being members of sports clubs, and the community benefits that came from that. And we need to be honest with ourselves that many of us, including all levels of government, are still implementing actions based on a healthy sport ecosystem. However, that system has fractured, into unrecognisable pieces for many of us, and we now need to be more agile in how we seek to deliver on that “healthy and active community” goal. There has been a shift in our society, and if we want sustainability in our sport ecosystem then we need to adjust with our communities. Who could have predicted in 2022 that in 2023 pickleball would become the fastest growing sport in the country.

So, already we have identified two areas where our goal of promoting sustainability is applied.

Another area where we seek sustainability is in our people, the people behind the parks. PLA needs to be a healthy, lean, and well-run organisation, that is structured on a sustainable approach to governance. Except for a very small cohort of paid staff, we are all volunteers, who give our time because of the dedication that we have for our industry. In the future we will need to ensure that we have built sustainability into our organisation. This also means building sustainability in our contractors and consultants, who are a critical part of our organisation. The contractors that provide our lighting systems, our playspaces, our amenity buildings, our technology, and our planning documents. As an organisation we need to promote sustainability in those commercial businesses that are members of our industry.

Lastly, the Adelaide Statement’s Pledge to Promote Sustainability requires actions on an individual, local, regional, state, national and international level. We need to not just be sitting in our offices, or delivering programs in our parks, or writing strategies that are based on an adaptive management approach to park management, we also need to be seen as the peak body in Australia for our public open spaces and the infrastructure to deliver leisure experiences. When we speak to politicians every conversation has to include sustainability, of our natural space, our sport and recreation ecosystem and our own organisation. When we speak, we need to have credibility, and we need to speak with authority, conviction, and relevance.

In a time of uncertainty, we need to be agile, and we need to be Promoting Sustainability.

Adelaide Statement