Climate Action

Sustainable Innovation in Sport paints optimistic picture for the future of sustainability in sport

The Sustainable Innovation in Sport Forum 2017 gathered high level industry stakeholders and influencers from sporting federations, teams and athletes alongside government representatives, broadcasters, NGO and businesses

  • 01 March 2017
  • Websolutions

PRESS RELEASE - London, UK - February 2017 - The Sustainable Innovation in Sport Forum 2017 was held in Munich, Germany, on 22-23 February. Over the two days the Forum gathered high level industry stakeholders and influencers from sporting federations, teams and athletes alongside government representatives, broadcasters, NGO and businesses.

The keynote address was delivered by Willem Huisman, President of Dow Germany & Chairman of the Board, Dow Deutschland. Willem highlighted the importance of passion, performance and partnerships for sustainability in sport. Dow’s partnership with the Olympic Games has enabled them to use the platform of sport and the Olympic brand to demonstrate how their technologies can advance the adoption low carbon solutions.

The panel on the growth of sustainability in sport reiterated Willem’s message, emphasising the key role played by collaboration and partnerships when driving sustainability in sport as well as the importance of leadership. Michelle Lemaître, Head of Sustainability at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) spoke about sustainability as one of the key pillars of the IOC-Olympic Agenda, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through to 2030 and beyond; while Allen Hershkowitz, Founder of Sport and Sustainability International, said “sport is the most important cultural platform to drive change, led by influential environmental advocates.”

“It was a very intensive but very productive two days. It was great pleasure sharing interesting ideas how to engage with this important issue. I have brought some great ideas back to CEV and hope we will start implementing some of those soon."

Vuk Karanovic, Development Manager, Confédération Européenne de Volleyball

In-depth sport leader insights were provided from Garry Connelly, FIA Environmental Delegate and Norman Vossschulte, Director of Guest Experience for the Philadelphia Eagles, discussing sustainability in motorsport and American Football respectively. Garry spoke on how the sustainability efforts of the motorsport championship are changing the technology of cars, and so affecting all drivers. Norman explained how the “greening” of the Eagles stadium’s operations was influencing fans to adopt more sustainable practices. 

Other key takeaways from the event were the importance of knowledge management alongside strong policy and regulations in ensuring a legacy of sustainability in sport, and the need for education and technology to engage with and influence fan behaviour. Neil Beecroft, former Sustainability Manager at UEFA and Euro 2016 stated that the best way to develop a lasting legacy for mega sports events was to “shake up existing models” and “dare to innovate.” Jörg Königstorfer, Chair of Sport & Health Management at the Technical University of Munich, said “science shows that sustainable behaviours come with education” and Paula Stringer, Head of Production, Sport at BBC, added that “technology is the biggest driver of positive change, and it will have a significant impact.”

“I really enjoyed the conference — it was one of the best-organized conferences that I’ve ever attended, everyone was very attentive, kind, and inspiring.”

Jörg Königstorfer, Chair of Sport & Health Management, Technical University of Munich

Day one ended with a series of roundtable discussion led by leading industry experts. Kamyar Vaghar, Strategic Advisor at International Well Building Institute (IWBI), led a discussion on how incorporating health and wellness features into stadiums and venues can be at the centre of the sustainable evolution. The conversation on what makes a successful climate and sports strategy was summed up by Naazia Ebrahim, Strategic Analyst at Ecosphere+ as being measurement, inspiration and fan engagement, and top-down cooperation.  

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Day two kicked off with an inspiring discussion on integrating sustainability into procurement, purchasing and supply for stadiums and venues. Commitment to sustainability, accessibility to all and reducing environmental impact were highlighted by Viviane Fraisse, Head of Sustainable Development for Roland Garros, while Michael Lloyd, Deputy Stadium Manager at Arsenal, stated that sustainability can mean both financial strength and environmental performance. Cédric Collard, Market Segment Manager at the Schréder Group, spoke on the innovation in lighting and how LED solutions can transform stadiums and venues in terms of sustainability, practicality and atmosphere.

“Congratulations on the event. It had an excellent mix of professionals attending and the balance between content and networking was good.”

Geert Hendriks, Head of Projects, AISTS

Key insights were provided by Pamela Ravasio, Head of CSR & Sustainability at the European Outdoor Group, on the importance of materials standardisation and traceability in the outdoor industry. Fredrik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Sustainability at the PGA European Tour and Kelli Jerome, Executive Director for the Golf Environment Organization gave an in-depth analysis on sustainability leadership in golf; while Russell Seymour, Sustainability Manager at Marylebone Cricket Club (Lord’s) and Chairman of the British Association of Sustainability in Sport (BASIS), highlighted the impacts of climate change have on sport, specifically cricket as a result of the recent droughts and floods.

The resounding message from the event, highlighted by Event Director Claire Poole was “the need for partnerships, partnerships, partnerships” to advance sustainable innovation in sport. Event Chairman and Former Head of Sustainability for London 2012, David Stubbs went on to speak of the need for a new narrative which acknowledges the challenges the industry faces and voices how it plans to learn from and overcome them. He added that sport is faced with a unique opportunity to facilitate and influence sustainable change beyond the world of sport. Moreover, the event showed that sustainability can be about much more than environmental protection; it can also be cost effective and give teams a winning edge.

“It was super informative to us and we now have a much better idea of where sports are in terms of their thinking about climate change and sustainability in general. The event was really well organized and we enjoyed all of it.”

Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, Strategy and Relationship Management, Sustainable Development Mechanisms, UNFCCC

Highlights from the Forum can be seen on our live Storify blog here

Watch the live footage from both days here

Photographs from the event can be found by clicking here

View the full list of speakers and download the agenda click here