Golf clubs across Europe can now demonstrate their concern for the environment by signing up to participate in “Committed to Green”, a campaign initiated by the European Golf Association Ecology Unit.
Committed to Green is a voluntary Environmental Management programme through which any European golf club is eligible to seek public recognition for demonstrating good environmental practice. The recognition process involves three stages of certification which offer clubs an incentive to participate and then to follow the successive steps of the programme. The structure of “Committed to Green” closely follows that of existing international certification systems, such as the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, but scaled and tailored to the golfing sector.
To register applicant clubs need to supply a profile of the club and its environmental situation and to provide a copy of the club’s environmental policy statement and a list of the members of the club’s “Committed to Green Team”. Guidance notes are provided with the registration form. Registered clubs will receive a Certificate of Commitment for display in the clubhouse announcing their participation in the programme.
As clubs progress to subsequent stages they will address different environmental topics including nature conservation, water resource management, integrated turfgrass management and aspects dealing with waste, energy efficiency, education and communications. Full “Committed to Green” recognition will be based on a comprehensive Environmental Management Programme in which the candidate clubs clearly demonstrate significant environmental achievements. This is a long-term process, normally taking three years to complete. Successful clubs will also be expected to sustain their commitment.
“The award of the Committed to Green label will be a valuable form of recognition, both for golf clubs and eventually for other sport and recreation facilities,” says David Stubbs, Executive Director of the EGA Ecology Unit. “All fields of activity are these days having to address environmental questions and it is good that golf is taking a positive lead on this subject. The example set by golf should have wide applications throughout the sport sector.”
Work on developing the recognition system has been carried out in association with the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden, in a project supported by the Swedish Farmers Co-operative and the UK-based Independent Insurance Company. Masters graduates in Environmental Management, Andreas Koch and Antonio Sanchez devoted their thesis to “Committed to Green” and are now engaged by the Institute on further research to refine and benchmark the performance criteria for full recognition and to produce an array of educational modules to support those implementing the programme.
Since its launch in late 1997 the “Committed to Green” programme has attracted widespread interest throughout the golf community and from leading environmental organisations. The initiative has been welcomed by the European Commission, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF International).