27-08-2020 - Blog

Rethink sport: A commitment to sustainability


The sports events industry has been seriously impacted by the pandemic, and while we deal with the economic and social consequences of that, the longer-term challenges the world faces haven’t gone away.

Climate change is probably the biggest of those challenges, which is why earlier this year OC Sport made a commitment to develop a company-wide sustainability framework which will be implemented through all of our activities across sailing, running and triathlon by 2021.

Committing to sustainability, and taking action on it, requires leadership and top-level commitment, and we’re at the very beginning of a journey that will see us embed sustainability in our company culture.

We want to share our journey to hopefully inspire others to make their own sustainability commitment to whatever issues are important to them, to impart some knowledge along the way as we learn, and to motivate others to join us in whatever way they can.

It’s no secret that the last few months have seen many event organisers – including us – face difficult financial situations. But if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that society can pull together to face a challenge. People can do incredible things in the name of health, including things we never thought we could or would have to do.

As we work towards a healthy recovery, it is clear that sport has an important role to play. One of sport’s major opportunities is the vast number of people it can influence around the world, and we believe in the principle that health and protecting our planet go hand in hand.

It’s a big job – and one we recognise we can’t do on our own. Achieving positive, systemic change requires not only commitment but collaboration. Our approach is to engage specialist expertise, partner with external organisations and ultimately integrate a sustainability programme into every aspect of our business as we seek to set ourselves up for the future that we want to be part of.

Over the last few months we’ve been working hard alongside Blueshift Solutions, leaders in the field of sports sustainability, to analyse what we currently do, and identify the opportunities that should form the heart of our sustainability strategy to support our companies’ strategic vision.

We’ve also become a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, and we’re now working alongside other leading sports organisations to align sports with the goals of the Paris Agreement and use the power of sports to serve as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action. More specifically, we’re part of a smaller working group who have committed to educating and advocating for climate action, and through collaboration, our aim is to create consistent and cohesive messaging and best practice guidelines that all sports can use.

Internally, we’ve put in place a small working team across our different business units, and we’re currently using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals action manager to understand our current impact on the community, environment, staff well-being, etcetera. Understanding our starting point will help us to set our goals.

We’ve undertaken an inventory across all our events and, driven by our amazing team, we already have some strong sustainability initiatives in place that we can build on. For example, The Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF is the only Swiss marathon to be recognised for its sustainable commitment through Swiss Olympic’s ecosport.ch programme.

We’re fortunate to still have some events to look forward to this year, and we’ll be using La Solitaire du Figaro and RunMate to make an initial measurement of the carbon footprint of those events to help us develop our overall strategy.

This work has never felt more crucial and if we don’t step up and take responsibility now, as a company we may not be here tomorrow.

The world we know and the sports we love will feel the impact of the pandemic for a long time, and while we work in the present to diversify and adapt, from a business point of view, we need to set ourselves up for the future. Examining our business models, structure and systems will all be part of the journey.

We hope by sharing our journey we can provide some interesting insights that might inspire action. If you’re part of an organisation that is on your ownjourney, or want to be part of ours, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch here.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can work together