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GlobalSportsJobs academic partner AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) has conducted the International Federations Sustainability Study (IF Study) since 2008. The 2015 study represents the 5th edition. The objective of the IF Study is to get a pulse on the level of integration, trends and needs of International Federations (IFs) with regards to their sustainability programs.

A total of 105 federations (97 IFs and 8 continental federations) were invited to participate in the 2015 study, resulting in a total of 42 federations who completed the online survey. Respondents included 54% of all Olympic Federations. The 40% response rate was slightly up from the 37% response rate of the previous (2014) edition.

Sustainable Sport and Events

A sport is sustainable when it meets the needs of today’s sports community while contributing to the improvement of future sport opportunities for all and the improvement of the integrity of the natural and social environment on which it depends. A sustainable sport event carefully balances its impact on ‘people’, ‘planet’ and ‘profit’ to contribute positively to social equity, environmental integrity and economic efficiency.

The 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville are often seen as the first major sports event that raised global attention to the topic of sustainability within the Olympic Movement. Two decades later ‘sustainability’ has become a critical issue to the entire sports industry and was identified by IOC President Thomas Bach as one of the core focus areas for IOCs Olympic Agenda 2020.

Strategy and Commitment

Between the years 2008 and 2010, the percentage of IFs who indicated that they include sustainability in their corporate strategy exploded from 32% (2008) to 83% (2010). However, 2014 and 2015 saw this dip to 71%. In 2015, three of the responding Olympic Federations did not have sustainability integrated into their organisational strategy. All three, however, expressed their objective to realise this integration within the next two years.

Promoting Sustainability

IFs promote sustainability the least among ‘fans and spectators’ and ‘sponsors and other partners’, a trend that has not changed since 2010. Almost 30% indicated that they did not promote sustainability at all to their fans and spectators. Engagement of athletes by IFs is another low-scoring area with 73% promoting sustainability ‘somewhat’ or ‘not at all’ to athletes.

The majority of IFs (95%) promoted sustainability at their events, with half having event guidelines related to sustainability.

The number of IFs that have a person responsible for sustainability has quadrupled since 2008 (from 11% in 2008 to 45% in 2015). This has been stable since 2010.

Sustainability Initiatives

Nearly all IFs (95%) were able to cite concrete examples of sustainability initiatives within their organisation. Examples given of environmental sustainability initiatives mainly relate to ‘transport’, ‘waste management’ and ‘procurement’.

IFs often use sport events to address a variety of social issues, such as alcohol and tobacco prevention (tennis, korfball, weightlifting) and supporting underprivileged groups within a community (bowling, cycling, ski mountaineering). Several sports (rugby, football, athletics) use their events to address global issues such as poverty reduction and peace building.

Waste reduction, reduced printing, less traveling and re-using materials are some of the sustainability initiatives that lead to cost savings for IFs. Other economic sustainability initiatives mentioned by IFs aim to create value for the local economy of the event’s host city or region.

Management and Support

Although ‘lack of standardised report and measurement’ is considered as one of the main ‘pain points’, IFs show good progress in measuring their sustainability initiatives. The 2015 IF study shows that 38% never or rarely measure their sustainability impact, compared to 69% in 2014. Despite this positive trend, almost 40% of surveyed Olympic Federations still rarely or never measure the impact of their sustainability programs.

Almost half of the IFs rarely or never report on their sustainability activities, which is a slight improvement, compared to 2014. Several IFs who measure their impact, claim to rarely or never report on their sustainability initiatives.

ISO20121 is an international management standard for sustainable events. Where only 57% was familiar with ISO20121 in 2014, this percentage has increased to 83% in 2015. Despite this increase in awareness, only one out of every six Olympic IFs is or was considering using ISO20121 for their organisation.

Where IFs did not indicate a clearly preferred method of support in 2014, the results of the 2015 study give more insight. Online resources and guides with case studies are perceived as most valuable, closely followed by workshops or seminars. Webinars and one-on-one consulting are considered least valuable.

About the AISTS Sustainability Educational Initiatives

The AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) engages and empowers the sport sector with knowledge and tools to incorporate sustainability and convene successful and sustainable sport events primarily through education. The AISTS offers the following two educational initiatives:

SUSTAINABLE SPORTS & EVENTS OPEN LEARNING MODULE, a two-day educational module which takes place on the EPFL campus in Lausanne (Switzerland). The Open Module provides participants with insight in best practices and trends as well as hands-on experience through group work on a case study.

Over two days, the AISTS SSE Open Module provides an understanding of the current challenges and opportunities of sustainability in sport. This understanding will be reinforced through a number of case studies, which offer concrete examples of what leading sports organisations, such as FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and the International Automobile Federation are achieving in this area. Participants will also gain insight into the best practices adopted by the American major leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MBL. Throughout both days, group work and discussions will challenge the existing ideas of sustainability in sport, with a particular focus on the business case for sustainability while simultaneously addressing the demands of multiple stakeholders. For additional information, visit here.

SPORT SUSTAINABILITY E-LEARNING, an online course to equip participants with

necessary knowledge to initiate, manage and report on sustainable sport events. The course consists of four modules: The Business Case for Sustainability, ISO 20121 Management System, Reporting and Impact Assessment. For additional information, visit: http://www.sport-sustainability.com/.

Click here to read the full report from AISTS

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