The first step to climate leadership, says the UNFCCC’s Sport for Climate Action Framework, is to ‘undertake systematic efforts’ to promote environmental responsibility. But what does that mean?
At COP24 the UNFCCC unveiled its Sport for Climate Action Framework – a five-step policy to help the sports sector achieve climate leadership status. Over the next five months, SSJ will look at each step (or principle, as described by the UNFCCC) in more detail, starting with Principle One: ‘Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility’
Becoming systematic about sustainability is challenging for most organisations that don’t have environmental or social goals as core objectives. Many think being sustainable is about developing a recycling initiative or putting their weight behind a philanthropic cause. These ad-hoc projects, although worthwhile, don’t represent an integrated or systematic approach to sustainability.
When the UNFCCC published its Sport for Climate Action Framework in December last year, the first principle it asked signatories to commit to was becoming systematic about sustainability and, more precisely, environmental responsibility.
The call to action was clear: “move beyond” the ad-hoc and towards the “comprehensive incorporation of climate change and its impacts into business strategy”, including operations, events, procurement, infrastructure and communications. It’s about creating a process, not doing things in isolation.
But how does this look in practice? According to the framework, it all starts with leadership at board and executive level.
Andy Hunt, the chief executive of World Sailing, was among the first framework signatories and spoke as one of the panellists during the COP24 session where it was unveiled. The international sport federation is one of the few to have published a comprehensive sustainability strategy and, more crucially, include sustainability as part of its overall business strategy.
‘Leadership in sport’ is one of four main pillars referenced by World Sailing in its 2018-2022 strategic plan. Among the strategy’s objectives is the publication of its Agenda 2030 sustainability roadmap (which was delivered in March 2018), the pledge to achieve a number of milestones set out in that document by the end of 2022, and to achieve other social goals, such as gender equity in competition, coaching, race management and governance.