Sport Industry

Opinion: How to Create a Sustainable Event


Industries across the world are being challenged to become more sustainable in their approach and sport is no exception. Stacey Knight, Commercial and Marketing Director of CSM Live, offers her top 10 tips for building sustainable events. 

Sustainability. As we heard at COP26, it’s the world’s number one priority, right now. Yet, in the world of sports events, it can be complex; a web of inter-connected issues, each requiring a different strategy rather than a catch-all approach.

Let’s take the summit as an example. As we have witnessed through a few high-profile examples, travel emissions generated by delegates flying into Glasgow dented the sustainability credentials of the conference before it had even begun – an issue broadly out of the local organiser’s hands.

At the same time, the host city’s organising committee will no doubt have been working furiously to reduce and recycle 100% of the waste created at the event, and to offset the carbon footprint created by all those attending.

If we switch our attention to sport, now. Again, this is a global industry. It spans many different geographical locations, each with their own unique set of cultural circumstances. In short, it’s a complicated business, and ensuring sustainability is front of mind can be difficult.

We now know, though, how crucial the aims and ambitions agreed, first in Paris and now in Glasgow, will be for the safe future of our planet.

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So, how can the event industry support these development goals? How do we find a sustainable approach to sporting events, which works across boundaries, and is proactive rather than reactive? Here are our 10 top tips for building sustainable events.

1. Sustainability should promote innovation in products: design-out waste and design-in long term re-use

2. Understand sustainability as an economic driver; clients and guests will engage with events and brands that are proud and active in this space

3. Budget for your solution after the event, including off-setting

4. Create long-term partnerships with suppliers and sponsors, allowing you to plan for and implement long-term sustainable objectives, and learn best practices as the relationship develops

5. Produce less and buy better: ‘Can I be clever using my existing equipment?’

6. Ask yourself what is essential to broadcast, sponsors, athletes, exhibitors, spectators: ‘Do we really need that?’

7. Benefit the local community before, during and after the event

8. Follow our gold standard for project management to ensure your objectives are considered

9. Standardise your inventory and hire in possible: encouraging multiple re-use

10. Keep it simple, no need to over complicate or analyse; it is simple to reduce our consumption, but maintain the same impact

As Colin Mayer, Professor at Oxford University’s Said Business School, notes: “If you think in terms of businesses solving the problems of people and planet, that is potentially one of the most exciting, important and profitable activities that a company can engage in.”

In other words, let’s approach sustainability as an opportunity, not an obstacle. A chance to create change, rather than a challenge to overcome.

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