How to make sport events truly sustainable was one focus on the last day of the 9th World Conference on Sport and the Environment that took place in Doha (Qatar) from 30 April to 2 May 2011. After participants had learnt about Qatar’s initiatives in integrating sustainability into the planning of sports events, as well as about South Africa’s green projects for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, Fiona Pelham, Managing Director of UK-based Sustainable Events LTD, shared details of a new reporting framework which has been led by sport with the objective that all organisers will be able to monitor, measure and communicate the impact of their events.
Sustainability reporting for sport events
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is currently the world’s most widely used sustainability framework, and will soon see the addition of an event sector supplement. The aim is to show balanced reporting on areas which are relevant to the size, type and location of an event, such as legacy and sourcing. The IOC, the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) and UEFA were instrumental in helping to develop such a reporting system that can be applied to sports events of all sizes. Fiona Pellham explained: “In autumn 2011, the Event Organiser sector supplement will launch and events around the world will have a framework, recognised as international best practice, to communicate their approach and impact. Clearly, this will have three important benefits: 1.What gets measured gets monitored and will be reduced; 2. There will be a common language for sharing the sustainability journey of sport: and 3. We will see leadership in communicating the legacy impact of sport.”
The Games example
The Organising Committee for the next Olympic Games in London 2012 is already working with GRI guidelines while putting sustainability at the heart of its preparations. Its latest sustainability report is GRI-checked, which is a first in the Olympic context. LOCOG was among three representatives from the future Games’ hosts who spoke about how hosting major events like the Olympics have allowed them to progress sustainability in their own contexts. David Stubbs from London 2012 spoke about how the Games had led to the remediation and regeneration of an entire area of East London, while London’s view of sustainability was allowing them to work with people from all backgrounds and take sustainability into new areas. Volney Zanardi and Grigory Kocharov both spoke about their own local contexts, in Brazil (Rio 2016) and Russia (Sochi 2014) respectively, and how major sporting events like the Games are helping them to promote sustainability and create lasting legacies for their local populations.