London was the first Olympic and Paralympic Games host city to establish and fund an independent assurance body focusing on sustainability.
The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) was formed in early 2007 to provide independent assurance and commentary over the sustainability of the London 2012 programme and legacy, and to carry out stakeholder engagement. In December 2012, CAG Consultants was commissioned to carry out an independent evaluation of CSL, prior to the organisation being wound up at the end of March 2013.
The evaluation was commissioned to ensure that there is clarity about the successes, learnings and failings of this particular experiment in public policy. The overarching question set for the evaluation was whether the Commission had added any value to the 2012 programme that could not have been obtained through other available means. In addition, the evaluation sought to identify the policy lessons gained from the experience of CSL for strategic assurance of major projects.
To ensure that the evaluation was carried out with sufficient independence, the Commission asked its Key Funders to establish a Steering Group, and it established a Peer Review Group.
The evaluation involved a desk review of key material, in-depth interviews with 40 external stakeholders, interviews with CSL staff and commissioners, an online survey to allow a wider group of stakeholders to be engaged, and observation of CSL activity.
The evaluation concluded that CSL added significant value to the London 2012 programme. This added value had a number of different dimensions, including sustainability outcomes, the governance of the Games and knowledge promotion. It identified a number of key reasons behind their effectiveness. The evaluation report also explores a number of aspects of CSL which might have been improved or which may need to be considered for future similar bodies and draws wider lessons from the experience of CSL for the strategic assurance of sustainability in policy and major projects.
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