During the group’s 4th day in Sydney at the Sydney Central YHA, we travelled by train from Central Station on a roughly 30 minute ride to Sydney Olympic Park. On a side note, some people aka myself figured out that the train doors close very quickly when making a beeping sound and will continue to close even with a person stuck in between the door, due to not having sensors! Once we transferred at Lidcombe station and finally arrived at Olympic Park, we walked 5-6 blocks through the center and made it to Bicentennial Park, where the group rented bicycles for two hours and were given free range to ride the 35 kilometers of bike paths throughout the park. The main group split into separate groups by pre-determined skill sets and everyone definitely experienced vastly different parts of the park. My group was able to see the majority of the park by visiting the Badu mangroves and waterbird refuge and even managed to have a little fun on the Mountain BMX track and Archery Centre, where we were able to see a variety of competitions going on. Other groups managed to make it up into the vast amount of buildings and towers around the park, while others made it through the other wetlands and to the water recycling plant the park houses on its grounds. The group finished the day with a discussion about sustainable aspects of the park we had observed and how Sydney Olympic Park was still a viable community and recreation center unlike many of the places that have previously hosted the Olympic Games.
The next morning was an early one for the group with our ‘Behind the Scene Tour’ of the Sydney Fish Market (SFM) at 6:45 am beginning at Doyle’s Seafood, one of the many shops contained inside the vast Market. The tour gave us the background of the beginnings of the Sydney Fish Market and took us through the middle of an ongoing reverse Dutch auction of the fish and seafood, of which they sell 52-55 tons daily. We learned that the Sydney Fish Market is the largest of its kind in the entire Southern Hemisphere and is only second to the Tokyo Fish Market in terms of variety of fish and seafood. After the hour-long tour, the group took taxis back to George St and was left on our own to find a local place for lunch before meeting at 20 Bond St for our meeting with Ajinkya from Cogent Energy. Cogent Energy is a sector of Origin Energy, Australia’s largest integrated gas and electricity generation energy company, which mainly focuses on cogeneration projects in New South Wales. Cogent Energy is partnering with the Sydney City Council to reach a set target of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030 under the “Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision”. Overall the group’s time in Sydney seemed short-lived and everyone wished we could have done a lot more exploring and shopping despite having the full day scavenger in the city.
Sydney Olympic Park one of the largest spaces the group and myself had seen that incorporated a variety of sustainability aspects into its rebuilding and design. The park contained permeable concrete all over the grounds and included its own water recycling plant to re-use all of the run-off surface and rainwater the park received during the year. In addition to water re-use and recycling, there were a large amount of solar arrays throughout the complex, with almost every outdoor light having its own solar panel to allow it to run essentially neutral. In relation to some of the things that my group biked past during our 2 hour trip, the Parramatta River was redeveloped and brought back to life through the rehabilitation of the river banks and the planting of the mangrove trees that allowed for less soil erosion and the return of flowing water and native species. Along the lines of rehabilitation, many older buildings have been demolished with their materials later re-used or re-purposed like the ANZ Stadium that was originally 110,000, but has now been reduced to 80,000 seats of recycled plastic that now house inter-state rival games and a variety of other events. The redevelopment of Sydney Olympic Park after the Games have given the area a sense of community through recreation opportunities, provided to the local economy through maintenance and retrofitting jobs, and increased aesthetics by encouraging the use of a variety of public art throughout the grounds.
The Sydney Fish Market and Cogent Energy provided insight into the sustainability measures the city is trying to adopt in their energy and food sectors of the economy. The Fish Market doesn’t have any encompassing regulations on sustainable seafood, but does work in conjunction with Marine Stewardship Council and OceanWatch to promote seafood sustainability through supporting innovative and best practice fisheries management. The SFM does have size regulations that are dictated by the state of NSW who regulates the fisheries and violations carry heavy enough fines to deter most violators after the deregulation of the fishing industry in 1999. Cogent Energy is another sector in which the city of Sydney is moving towards creating a sustainable and carbon neutral energy supply. As mentioned earlier, the Sydney City Council in conjunction with Cogent has set a target of reducing carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 with the completion of 5 one, two and four megawatt cogeneration plants being built strategically built around the city to provide Green Power. Green Power is a government accredited renewable electricity program that is generated from a source beginning in 1997. Along with trying to provide green power to the 4.5 million residents of Sydney, cogeneration has a numerous amount of benefits, those including: up to 85% total efficiency, up to 70% reduction in carbon emissions, and ¼ of the emissions of coal. All of these visits were surprisingly eye-opening especially with encountering a city with such a large population, but it shows promise in a country’s and communities abilities to tackle the problems associated with a changing climate and address the 3 E’s of sustainability, Environment, Economy, and Equity.