In a significant milestone for the golf industry, the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) has been accepted as an ISEAL Alliance associate member, following a rigorous formal evaluation by ISEAL, the global leader in defining credibility in sustainability standards systems. GEO Certified™, the international ecolabel for golf, is the only sustainability standard in the sports industry to achieve this distinction.
GEO joins a group of just less than two dozen global standards organizations that address a variety of critical sustainability issues such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, living wage, and business resilience through standards and certification systems that promote sustainable practices.
“While golf may not seem an obvious fit amongst the rest of the ISEAL Alliance, the hundreds of thousands of people responsible for managing the land and the businesses that provide for the game have long understood their connection with nature and communities. Golf is a prime example of a managed landscape that can have a net positive impact for people and wildlife,” explains Gordon Shepherd, GEO Board Member and Policy Advisor to WWF International.
In a statement, ISEAL remarked on the importance of shaping the social and environmental impact of recreation and tourism and the strong leadership role that standards can play: “GEO’s focus is on continuous improvement and industry-wide impact in golf, at the intersection of sport and business. Through a third-party assurance system designed to address the environmental and social issues relevant to golf, it intends to see the sport become a preeminent leader in sustainability.”
Speaking about the decision, ISEAL’s Executive Director, Karin Kreider, added, “The work GEO is doing to foster progress in the golf industry is impressive and a sign that sustainability standards can be applied in many sectors to help improve and recognize environmental and social performance.”
ISEAL Alliance associate membership facilitates a transition to full membership and compliance with ISEAL’s internationally recognized Codes of Good Practice. ISEAL members are brought together by their commitment to delivering positive impact, embracing credible practices and improving with like-minded peers.
Jonathan Smith, GEO Chief Executive, shares his thoughts: “We are extremely proud to become an associate member of the ISEAL Alliance alongside such important and respected organizations. GEO Certified™ and the OnCourse™ programme that leads to the ecolabel grew out of a desire six years ago to provide a clearer, more practical and beneficial path to sustainability for golf.
“This milestone is reward to many partners, supporters, and friends who, as part of a growing community dedicated to sustainable golf, have contributed so much knowledge, with such dedication and enthusiasm.
“We hope this platform of credibility, along with a ready made pathway will help springboard golf’s efforts – seeing more clubs in villages, towns and cities around the world continually improving, and more confidently sharing the stories behind their great golf environments.”
Response on the announcement:
“To their credit, GEO has helped lead the engagement between sport and environment over recent years. By becoming the first sporting ecolabel to be accepted into ISEAL, they are raising golf’s sustainability game to new heights.” Nick Nuttall, United Nations Environment Programme, Director of Communications
“Sustainability is of tremendous importance to the Olympic movement, and I’m sure this will be seen as a great achievement for golf, demonstrating the industry’s innovation, leadership and action.” Antony Scanlon, International Golf Federation, Chief Executive
“This is a tremendous boost to the game and its advocacy efforts. It adds significant weight to our environmental communications plan.” Steve Mona, World Golf Foundation, Chief Executive Officer
“Congratulations to GEO on achieving ISEAL recognition. Through our Working for Golf programme we have long advocated and supported global sustainability standards for the industry, and now look forward to helping drive uptake of standards and acknowledging the success of those achieving them through attainment of the GEO Certified™ ecolabel.” Steve Isaac, R&A, Director, Golf Course Management
“We can all take great pride for the roles we have played in defining standards and becoming the first sport in the world to advance this far. It’s a great boost to us as we start to promote sustainability more strongly at European Tour venues and tournaments.” George O’Grady, European Tour, Chief Executive
“High standards and the highest levels of integrity are what drives success across our membership. With an easy to use, business based pathway leading to such a trusted marque of sustainability, you can understand why the CMAA will be promoting GEO Certified™ strongly to our members in the months and years ahead.” Jim Singerling, Club Managers Association of America, Chief Executive Officer
“This is great news for golf, communities and the environment. The most successful businesses and industries are embracing sustainability, and good standards, certifications and ecolabels are a proven method to drive performance and profile.” David Withers, Jacobsen, President
“Demonstrating that golf is good for people and the environment is critically important if the game is to grow and be valued by people across Asia. Clear standards and trustable evidence are vital, and we are proud to have GEO as one of our Supporting Members as we move forward with sustainability initiatives in Asia.” Tim Trinka, Asian Golf Industry Federation, President
“This accomplishment has broken new ground not only for golf, but for sport. We have seen GEO evolve by consistently engaging golf, government and environmental organisations, driving a belief of achievable and responsible golf course management and development. This awarded credibility is well deserved and we look forward to working with them to get more and more clubs involved, with promotion throughout the European golfing community.” Richard Heath, European Golf Association, General Secretary
“This is a major breakthrough for GEO and therefore for Golf. I remember being in meetings with large and influential NGO’s where GEO was discussed: first question is if GEO has been recognised by ISEAL. Well done and congratulations. The biggest step in the development so far, this puts GEO Certified™ as an ecolabel in the rankings with FSC, Fairtrade International, and other big name NGO’s that play an important role in their sectors.” Lodewijk Klootwijk, European Golf Course Owners Association, Director
“This is a significant achievement for the golf industry and is welcomed by BIGGA and its members. Good environmental custodianship is at the core of greenkeeping and it is a great endorsement for the industry that the Certification processes that have been contributed to so widely by the on-the-ground practitioners have achieved this recognition.” Jim Croxton, British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, Chief Executive Officer
“ISEAL recognition is confirmation that the years of hard work by GEO have been worth the effort. The golf industry now has an accreditation that leads the way in the sporting world and that is something for all who have been involved to be justifiably proud. Let us now build on this by creating and recreating courses that are great for the golf business, society and the environment.” Tom Mackenzie, European Institute of Golf Course Architects, Environment Convenor
“This is a great achievement for GEO and the game of golf. GEO now sits with great credibility and something that the industry sector can be very proud of. It clearly shows what can be achieved when working together and supporting a vision that has real meaning to the game of golf and the sustainable way we manage our golf courses.” Dean Cleaver, Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations, Chief Executive
“It is imperative that members of the golf industry look for ways to make a positive environmental and social impact. ASGCA members show leadership around the world, working with developers and course owners to improve the environment for the benefit of everyone. We applaud this news, as something that can provide more support for that tradition.” Rick Robbins, American Society of Golf Course Architects, President
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and its philanthropic division the Environmental Institute for Golf are proud to be integral in the recognition that golf courses can be community assets. Golf courses are some of the most sustainable businesses, thanks in large part to the efforts of our members and other golf course management professionals around the world. An international label to recognize that is a credit to the industry.” J. Rhett Evans, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, CEO
“All of us in the business of golf should have environmental sensitivity as a top priority in our respective missions. GEO is an organization that provides wonderful leadership through guidelines that help from both an environmental and social standpoint. Many of our golf course design clients benefit greatly from GEO guidance, and the ISEAL association will strengthen these benefits even further. Well done.” Gary Player
About GEO Certified™ and GEO
GEO Certified™ is awarded to golf clubs who demonstrate a level of sustainability action and considerations across a comprehensive modern sustainability agenda of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community. OnCourse™ is an innovative web-based programme that helps clubs to record and report their sustainability work, improve where needed, and leads to becoming GEO Certified™.
GEO is an international, stakeholder led, not-for-profit entirely dedicated to the promotion of sustainability in and through golf. GEO takes a practical, positive, and open approach, working together with golf organizations, environmental experts, golf industry professionals and sponsors to provide programmes that guide and reward comprehensive, credible action in golf management, development and tournaments.
For more information, please visit www.golfenvironment.org
ISEAL Alliance www.isealalliance.org