The role of sport in sustainability


Dr Madeleine Orr explains how the industry will need to engage in structural change to address the threat of climate change explains how the threat that sport is facing due to the onset and acceleration of climate change has been amply explained in recent years. And you ask: how much will it actually get worse?

Using the latest research, Dr Madeleine Orr, co-director of the Sport Ecology Group and researcher at the University of British Columbia , paints a clear picture during the latest Sustainability Leadership Series talk, hosted in partnership with SportWorks.

Fate and darkness

But it’s not all destined for a dark scenario. Indeed, Orr points out that sport needs to do a better job of telling and suggesting the way to a happy ending in which the world – and sport by extension – can avoid the worst possible epilogue related to climate change by acting quickly and concretely.

During this presentation, he explains that research focused on sport and climate change has grown rapidly in recent years. And if this data can be used to develop the right strategies, sports organizations can reduce their vulnerability to climate change and the extreme weather conditions it generates and contribute to global climate action. Watch the full speech here:

Climate change is an urgency already underway and the world of sport must necessarily adapt. On the other hand, sport must take action, like all sectors, to counter this change, reducing waste and emissions . Companies and governmental bodies have taken action in this sense and the involvement is ever wider.

Sport is not just professionalism. It is a way of conceiving physical activity as an expression of a personal energy. Sport  is an English word (appeared in 1532) which means fun. The word is in turn an abbreviation from the old French of the word “desport”, from which the Spanish “deporte” and the Italian “diporto” (leisure, entertainment, recreation) derive. For this reason, through the driving of sport with a capital S, of the sports clubs that drive the business linked to this vast world, the tools for the design of public spaces between mitigation and adaptation to climate change. This is what the Emilia Romagna region proposes in a documentprogram of wide interest in which the revision of the urban planning regulations is proposed, on which the Region has been working in recent months, placed among its fundamental points through the theme of land consumption, regeneration and urban quality.

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Climate change will only intensify in the future. As we sadly know, even if greenhouse gas emissions stabilized today, there would still be an increase in global mean temperature over the next few decades, with a number of associated effects. For example, the exceptional heatwave summer of 2003 which claimed victims in major European cities and thus affected public opinion will become a “normal” phenomenon at the end of the 21st century. Likewise, the frequency of periods of heavy rainfall with related floods is increasing and will further increase and we will adapt to warmer winters with little snow-covered ski resorts.

The questions that sport must ask today:

What is the environmental impact of our activities?
But is it really true that we generate an environmental impact?
Can we quantify it? Can we decrease it?
How to respond to the appeals of the scientific community for the reduction of the global environmental impact?
Are we aware that environmental, social and economic policies are different aspects, but in relation to each other?

“It is important to promote ecologically rational management, which is adequate, inter alia, to manage green procurement, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, waste elimination and water and soil treatment. ”
“Sports organizations and sport event initiators in Europe should adopt environmental objectives to make their activities ecologically sustainable. By improving their credibility on environmental issues, responsible organizations can expect specific benefits when applying to host sporting events, and economic benefits linked to a more rational use of natural resources.