Sport and the Environment: What is the ‘Life TACKLE’ project’s contribution in achieving environmental sustainability in sport?

Panel I

As a key part of our society, sport not only offers opportunities for physical activity but it also promotes good health and well-being. It provides a means of social contact and opportunities ranging from intense competitiveness to casual enjoyment. At the same time, however, sport can cause damage to nature and the environment.

Environmental issues such as waste management, mobility, water consumption, lighting, fan environmental awareness and an environmental governance system of football associations and clubs are today the focus for making sport more sustainable. This focus is creating new opportunities.

The ‘greening of sports’ movement is still under construction, but the scaffolding is going up quickly. The challenge remains: how to further mainstream sport in European policymaking.

This panel discussed:

  • What greening targets should be achieved for sports events and how best to run sporting events and manage stadiums, from the pitches the players play on to the food and drink the fans consume.
  • How to improve the cooperation between local authorities and stadium users?
  • How projects such as Life TACKLE, a project co-funded by EU life programme aiming at improving the environmental management of football matches, can help enhance policy improvements?


Panel II

Following the launch of the new European Commission’s “Green Deal”, national football teams are preparing for Euro 2020, considering which actions should be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the ‘king of sports’: football.

The average European football match generates 0.8 kg of waste per spectator. Taking into account all matches organised by Europe’s National Football Associations, the overall waste generation is an estimated 750 000 tonnes per year. Sporting clubs and governing bodies, together with local authorities, have made big strides in tackling environmental issues, but coherent strategies and impact measurement systems are still lacking.

There are many initiatives aimed at recycling water and waste, such as turning plastic into clothes or beer cups into a fully recycled plastic football pitch.

Some may argue that this is not enough, as change should come more directly from efficient energy use or fewer greenhouse gas emissions. For example, for major events like the Olympics, air travel typically has the largest environmental impact, followed by venue construction. So where should the focus be?

The panel discussed questions such as:

  • How can the sports sector move from fragmented initiatives and stand-alone projects to integrated sustainability?
  • How to incentivise stadiums to implement pre-defined measures?

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