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6 examples that prove it's 'game on' to a sustainable future in sport

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Sport Positive Summit 2023: “Where global sports convene to supercharge efforts on climate change, sustainability, biodiversity and environmental justice.” It’s a high-profile event bringing together sport’s leading figures to promote environmental and social responsibility in the industry.

This year, the opening session is, ‘A sustainable future for sport – game on or game over?’. While there is no doubt that there is a huge amount of work to be done, we know that sport has a unique ability to unite and empower people to do incredible things. In recent months, the sector has shown a collective commitment to sustainability: taking meaningful steps to minimise its environmental impact and set a powerful example to other industries.

Now is not the time for complacency, but here are six recent developments which show why it’s game on for a sustainable future in sport.

1. The OECD has issued independent guides to measure the long-term impacts of global events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has issued two guides to assist global sports, business and cultural event organisers and their stakeholders in monitoring and evaluating the social, economic and environmental benefits of their events using robust and evidence-driven methodology. The guides were developed in consultation with academics and experts, event hosts, future Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), foundations, governments, policy-makers and international organisations including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Paris will be the first Games to benefit from these pioneering guidelines, which should revolutionise the way event organisers measure, monitor and evaluate the impact of future global events.

Paris 2024 Olympic Park

2. London Stadium, previously the 2012 Olympics Stadium and now home to West Ham United, is set to have multi-million pound solar panels installed to generate its own energy. The building could start generating energy by the end of 2024, producing roughly three million kilowatts of power each year.

3. Forest Green Rovers FC are widely recognised as one of the trailblazers of the environmental sustainability agenda in football, having taken bold measures to cut emissions from travel and food, reduce waste and spread the word of sustainability across the industry. This year, they cemented their position by ranking top of the English Football League clubs as most environmentally friendly. Sport Positive Leagues has collated a large cross section of information on the environmental sustainability efforts of EFL clubs, evaluating them on criteria including energy efficiency, sustainable transport, waste management and water efficiency. FGR came out on top, underlining their leading position in a new era of transparency and accountability on sustainability in football.

Forest Green Rovers FC Stadium

4. The historic Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 and producing net zero emissions by 2040 as part of a new Net Zero Carbon Strategy. Several projects across the MCC’s celebrated cricket ground, Lord’s, have been outlined as part of a plan that has been developed in partnership with the Net Zero group consultancy.

5. The September 2023 BMW PGA Championship became the first sports TV production powered entirely by green hydrogen. European Tour Productions and IMG worked with UK-based clean energy company GeoPura to supply two hydrogen-powered generators, estimated to save a total of 16.4 Tonnes of CO2 compared to the 2022 tournament. Water is the only by-product, meaning they produce zero emissions.

6. The UN Sports for Climate Action fan survey has been launched. The #BiggerThanTheGame survey aims to explore topics such as collective identity in sports, the economic situation fans find themselves in and the role of sports in building communities and resilience. “This initiative aims to understand the potential of sports clubs and organisations in inspiring fans like you to engage with sustainable development and climate action.”

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