The Sports World’s Top Sustainability Experts Launch ‘Sport and Sustainability International’

Reader Contribution by Allen Hershkowitz
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A global initiative to leverage the influence of sport to protect the environment and all the species that depend on it is off to the races with the formation of “Sport and Sustainability International” (SandSI), an international association of sports industry sustainability leaders focused on addressing climate change and a diversity of other sustainability issues.

The formal establishment of SandSI is the result of a November 16, 2016, meeting of the world’s top sports industry sustainability experts in Lausanne, Switzerland. In all, 48 representatives of European and international sports organisations and businesses participated in the SandSI Foundational meeting.

As agreed upon at the Lausanne meeting, SandSI aims to leverage the cultural and market influence of sports to promote sustainable development and healthy communities broadly, beyond the individual sports venue.

SandSI members will derive enormous value by being able to draw from the unique diversity, professional experiences and technical expertise of the sustainability experts that it is bringing together from throughout the world.

SandSI intends to carry out its mission by inspiring and collaborating with sports federations, leagues, teams, events, venues, governments, sponsors and other sports industry business partners, fans, and athletes. The goals of these collaborations are designed to:

1. Reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote the use of renewable energy, healthy food, green spaces, water efficiency, wildlife conservation, smart mobility, carbon mitigation, safer chemicals, waste management that advances a circular economy, and other environmentally preferable practices and initiatives.

2. Promote fair trade principles in the sports industry’s supply chain, as well as environmentally intelligent procurement, investments, practices and initiatives.

3. Foster healthy communities by encouraging diversity and inclusion, cultural exchange, equal opportunities, physical activity and other socially beneficial practices and initiatives.

SandSI will advance its sustainability objectives by focusing on three pillars of work: (1) enhancing sport events, venue design, and operations, (2) influencing the sports industry’s supply chain, and (3) mobilising fans and athletes in support of sustainable, healthy and just communities. These three core areas of focus align with the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic and social.

SandSI will be headquartered in Switzerland, with operational and fundraising affiliates throughout the world as needed. The development of SandSI is being coordinated by an Organising Committee comprised of experts representing the different stakeholders in the global sports industry.

Next steps for SandSI include the expansion of its Organising Committee, the development of workgroups including technical and scientific policies and institutional development, and the hiring of a Secretary General. SandSI’s next institutional meeting will take place in Munich (Germany) at the end of February 2017

“Sports hold a unique and powerful place in communities around the world. Sports bring people together for a common cause and shared experience regardless of age, race, class, or creed. Just like life, sports bring us great joy and sometimes breaks our hearts. But sports have the power to not only set an example of sustainable operations for businesses and events across the globe, but to inspire and motivate billions of people to take action on behalf of our planet and all humanity. Sport and Sustainability International is poised to harness the teeming energy of the sports industry toward the good of all.”– David Muller, Former Membership Director, Green Sports Alliance.

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