100% Sport contributor, Jennifer Regan – Principal and Chief Sustainability Officer at We Bring It On Inc. and Green Sports Alliance Board of Directors member, recently participated in Sport 2.0 event, which took place in Rio during the Olympic Games. The event explored the power of sport, technology, and their combined ability to speed up and scale social and environmental actions for a better world. BT, LondonSport and the Mayor of London hosted the event at The British House. Below she outlines her experience and key takeaways from the event.
The Rio Olympics served as a serendipitous backdrop for our event, as was coming to be defined as one of the most transparently challenging Olympics in the modern era. The candor with which the world is discussing Rio’s political corruption, financial turmoil, health and safety threats, pollution, congestion and the legacy of Olympic infrastructure gave me and the other speakers an imperative to honestly reflect on the current landscape of sport’s environmental and social impact, especially in thinking about what is working in our industry and what is not.
The panel I was on featured experts with a diverse range of perspectives, and was followed by an inspiring Q and A session with Michael Johnson. The panelists brought a variety of interesting vantage points from our respective industry experience. Representing the experience of large enterprise were Alex Ingles and myself. Alex is a corporate executive who has led telecom technology adoption across 15 different countries, including for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, while I have led the adoption of environmental sustainability practices for sport venues, teams and events across 14 different countries. We were privileged to have the elite athletes Ana Nasser and Michael Johnson as speakers as well, both of whom actively leverage their skills and recognition to create youth empowerment programs. Rounding out the panel was Mano Silva, a community organizer who, among other things, recognized the opportunity to use the development of local futbol pitches as a platform for community development and civic engagement.
What was perhaps most notable to me personally was how, despite the panelists divergent backgrounds, some powerful themes emerged throughout the session. The core of our connection was our realization that many of Rio’s challenges as a city and Brazil’s challenges as a developing nation mirror the challenges people experience, as observed in both our local and global communities. Despite the overwhelming scale and breadth these challenges seem to impose, in our own careers and specifically on this panel we focused on the similarities – seeking opportunities for leveraging sport for social and environmental betterment and looking for ways of using that momentum to take action steps forward.