Inner Circle Forum 2023 Logo


of the World

28TH August 2023

EarthCHeck Inner Circle Forum 2023

28TH AUGUST 2023
Brisbane Convention and
Exhibition Centre, Australia

Best Practice in Tourism Development

After 35 years, EarthCheck continues to deliver some of the world’s leading best practice in tourism development, destination management and sustainable advisory services.

Inner Circle 2023 presented the opportunity for the tourism industry to gather together to investigate the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Our goal for Inner Circle, as always, was to empower industry leaders to take forward the knowledge shared and apply it to their own operations and destinations.

EarthCheck was excited to welcome Inner Circle 2023 to our home town of Brisbane, and we enjoyed hosting you!


ESG and what it really means for me

You’ve heard it spoken about, but what is ESG and what does it mean for the measurement and management of your organisation or destination’s impact? Join our panel of experts as we explore the practicalities of ESG reporting, alignment to global reporting protocols and communicating achievements with visitors and guests.

Leading destinations of the world™

Our research has shown the Leading Destinations of the World™ share a united vision and passion for sustainable outcomes. In the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane, hear what our Leading Destinations of the World™ have to say on how to deliver sustainable outcomes.

On a pathway to
net zero

Net zero: Ambitious goal or unachievable unicorn? Our expert panel will be put to the test as we talk all things net zero, carbon neutral and net positive.

Key insights

Tourism industry experts, operators, academics and global thought leaders gathered at the Inner Circle Forum to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

Speaker on stage at the Inner Circle Forum

Video Gallery

Catch up on ICF 2023

Video footage from ICF 2023 is available in the video gallery now.

Photo Gallery

ICF Photos online now

Photos from ICF 2023 Day One are available in the photo gallery now.


Dave Baswal

Dave Baswal is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ovolo Group, and brings with him a wealth of experience within the hospitality industry. 

Previously acting as Managing Director for Ovolo AU/NZ, Dave’s passion for the brand is palpable. Dave’s foresight in executing strategic partnerships has allowed for rapid expansion within the Australian market, supporting his seamless transition into the CEO role. 

With initiatives for ethical eating and innovation, Dave recognises that Ovolo embodies a unique opportunity to not only inspire the hospitality industry, but to generate global change – and his ability to curate a platform for progressive thinking has now affirmed the Ovolo Group as an undeniable market leader. 

Aligned by a belief in endless opportunity, the Ovolo Group pride themselves on having an unrivalled company vision. With no greater believer than Dave himself, he is proud to lead a team of brilliant individuals that come together to excite and empower their guests with new experiences.

A globally recognised expert in sustainable tourism, Susanne Becken is a Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University in Australia and the Principal Science Investment Advisor (Visitor) in the Department of Conservation, New Zealand. 

Susanne is also a Vice Chancellor Research Fellow at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, focusing on sustainable tourism and green transition. She is a member of the Air New Zealand Sustainability Advisory Panel and the Travalyst Indepdendent Advisory Group, and an elected Fellow of the International Academy of the Study of Tourism. 

In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious UNWTO Ulysses Award for her contribution to tourism knowledge. She is on multiple editorial boards, including the Journal of Sustainable Tourism and Tourism Management.

An innovative and outcome driven C Suite Executive in the Visitor Economy sector who brings over 30 years  experience across various government, commercial, public private partnership and not for profit membership-based businesses. Karen has worked at C Suite level in Convention Bureau in Melbourne and Sydney, in hotels, venues and worked for and developed some of Australia’s largest major events and trade shows.  Karen is an inclusive thinker, with an unparalleled understanding of the business events ecosystem, and the opportunities and challenges it faces in the new economy.

Michael Duggan is a Director in Ashurst’s Risk Advisory practice. He has over 15 years’ experience in commercial and for-purpose executive leadership, coupled with the delivery of energy and resources, heavy industry, renewable and government advisory, consulting and research engagements across Australia and internationally. 

With Doctoral level qualifications in sustainability, Michael has expertise in a broad range of ESG and corporate social responsibility areas. He has a deep understanding of the material risks to performance that impact upon an organisation’s provision of value to its stakeholders, and extensive experience in managing these risks. 

Brendan Herriot

CBA aims to play a leading role in supporting their clients to navigate the transition to a decarbonised, sustainable and resilient economy. To that end, Brendan works with corporate clients to share sustainability insights and developments and to access sustainable finance structures that support their sustainability strategies. 

A banker by background, Brendan brings a commercial mindset to supporting businesses to accelerate their unique sustainability journeys.

Kumi Kato

Dr. Kumi Kato is a professor at Japan’s Wakayama University Faculty of Tourism and Graduate School of Tourism, and is a researcher for the Creating Happiness Incubation at Musashino University. 

She specialises in sustainable tourism, community empowerment and resilience, especially valuing traditional ecological knowledge reflected in local industries and intangible cultural expressions. 

Dr Kumi Kato holds a number of advisory positions, including sitting on the Board of Directors for the GSTC, assisting with a sustainable tourism promotion project with the Japan Tourism Agency, and advising for Global Himalayan Expeditions. 

She oversees the national implementation of the Japan Sustainable Tourism Standard for Destinations, as well as working directly with coastal communities in Japan’s Tohoku region in their recovery from the March 2011 East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. 

She is also a world-renowned researcher, with publications in journals such as the Journal of Sustainable Tourism and Tourism Planning & Development.

Specialising in business strategy, Jelena uses her skills to help develop and launch strategic products and solutions to attain sustainable business growth for Global Hotel Alliance and its multi-brand loyalty programme, GHA DISCOVERY.

Prior to joining Global Hotel Alliance in 2013, Jelena worked with Jumeirah Group in Dubai. In her home country, Latvia, she worked with international companies as a translator and interpreter.

Jelena has been working and living in Dubai since 2009.

Carolina Mendonca

An experienced Chief Sustainability Officer and Sustainability Consultant, Carolina has driven positive change in more than 200 local businesses and companies. 

Carolina is now the Destination Management Organisation Coordinator for the Azores, the first archipelago in the world to be certified as a sustainable destination by EarthCheck and under GSTC criteria. 

Professor Graham Miller holds a Chair in Sustainability in Business at the University of Surrey. His research is focused on the drivers to create greater sustainability across society, with a particular emphasis on the travel and tourism sector. 

Graham is the former Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Surrey, with university-level responsibility for sustainability and employability. Graham was also Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. 

Graham is chair of the Considerate Group, a company formed to promote sustainable practice in the hotel industry through the analysis of energy and water usage data, and is the former co-editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, the leading academic journal dedicated to sustainability in the tourism industry. 

From 2014 to 2019 Graham was the lead judge for the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, recognising the best examples of sustainability in the global travel and tourism industry.

Mark Olsen

Mark Olsen is the CEO of Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ), the Destination Management Organisation for the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforests.  The region has over 2,000 visitor experiences and the highest number of accredited tourism products of any destination in Australia. 

Sustainable tourism is at the core of the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef brand, ‘Leave Greater’.  The ambition is that every visitor will leave as a custodian of the region and its stories – and will leave the destination greater through conservation programs for our precious environment and preservation of the world’s oldest living culture. 

Prior to joining TTNQ, Mark was the CEO of EarthCheck Consulting for 10 years, and prior to that spent nearly 10 years in various roles at Tourism and Events Queensland.

David Simmons is Emeritus Professor of Tourism at Lincoln University and a global specialist in destination management. From 2008 to 2010 he was Director of Research for the Australian Federal Government’s ‘Sustainable Tourism CRC’, and has contributed to numerous national and local tourism planning exercises in his home New Zealand, and Asia and. He is committed to pushing the frontiers of tourism science and chairs the EarthCheck Research Institute.

Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO is an experienced Chair and Non-Executive Director serving for over 20 years on the boards of a variety of organisations, including listed entities, government boards and for-purpose organisations. 

Katherine has a strong track record in a broad range of innovation-dependent industries, including healthcare, renewable energy and environmental and climate science.  She has been cited in various media as one of Australia’s most influential people in innovation. 

Katherine was recently elected to be the first female President of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Amongst her many roles, she chaired the National Climate Science Advisory Committee that produced the ‘Climate Science for Australia’s Future’ report, and is currently on the Steering Committee for the Australian chapter of the Climate Governance Initiative. 

Katherine was one of the original board members of Earthcheck.

Supported by

Best Practice in Tourism Development
EarthCheck Inner Circle Forum 2023

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of Country

There are more than 476 million Indigenous Peoples, found in all regions of the world, from the Arctic to the tropical forests. They make up more than 6 per cent of our global population.


In the spirit of reconciliation, EarthCheck acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout the world and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Indigenous Peoples today.


EarthCheck acknowledges that Indigenous Peoples are guardians of the forests and biodiversity hotspots we all depend on. Research shows that lands managed by Indigenous Peoples, with secure rights, experience lower deforestation rates, store more carbon, hold more biodiversity, and benefit more people than other lands — including protected areas.


We recognise and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is a positive document that maps out a path for Indigenous Peoples to be free from discrimination and secure in their identities and life choices.

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EarthCheck Certified: Aligned globally

EarthCheck science and products were developed by the Australian Government Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre (STCRC) over ten years. Our science is reviewed annually to ensure that it meets international standards relative to greenhouse gas protocols, responsible tourism, and certification.

EarthCheck products and services are built on the Agenda 21 principles for Sustainable Development endorsed by 182 Heads of State at the United Nations Rio De Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 and aligned to the SDGs.

EarthCheck Certified provides a framework for organisations to achieve the desired outcomes for sustainable development as set out in the final report of the World Summit for Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002.

EarthCheck Certified complies with the Mohonk Agreement (2000), which outlines the guidelines and principles for an international sustainable tourism certification program. It is also a Recognised program of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

EarthCheck Certified is a verification standard accepted by CDP. It is also an approved program of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA), London & Partners, the Mexican Secretary of Tourism (SECTUR) and the City of Sydney.

EarthCheck Certified is an approved program for meeting the EU Energy Directive for the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle – BAFA) in Germany and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) in the Netherlands.

EarthCheck partners with international research organisations to maintain the currency of EarthCheck science and our benchmarking systems.

The EarthCheck brand signifies scientific excellence, better environmental, economic, and social performance, improved community interactions, and savings through more efficient use of resources. It provides recognition and promotional support to a global consumer market.