Global Edition

Golf in focus at Olympic conference

8.50am 27th March 2009 - Management Topics

Golf’s green credentials and, more specifically, those of The 2010 Ryder Cup will be a focal point for discussion at the 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment (WCSE), due to be held in Vancouver, Canada from 29th to 31st of March 2009.

A bi-annual fixture in the Olympic calendar, the WCSE is organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is now firmly established as the premier forum for organisers of major sporting events to come together with corporate and environmental leaders to share knowledge and advance practices related to sport and its relationship with communities and the environment.

Golf’s leading international environmental partner, and the body overseeing the planning and delivery of the Ryder Cup programme, the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO), has been working with UNEP for over a decade. This on-going relationship will return to the spotlight again in Vancouver as GEO is called upon to deliver insight into the widely regarded efforts of the golf industry in addressing environmental issues and driving improved performance.

Theodore Oben, chief, sport and the environment UNEP is delighted to see GEO join a premier list of speakers including His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, Masato Mizuno, chairman of the Mizuno corporation and Frankie Fredricks, chair of the IOC Athletes Commission. He said, “UNEP trust and value the objective and scientific insight that GEO provides on golf, and their vision and drive towards a sustainable future for the sport. Yet again we’re delighted to have golf communicating its increasingly strong leadership to the prestigious audience that will assemble in Vancouver.

“Following GEO’s contribution to the Global Forum for Sport and Environment (G-ForSE) last year in Alicante, we are delighted that they will once again shed light on the issues and opportunities that perhaps uniquely rest with golf.

GEO’s director of communications Benjamin Warren will present some key elements of the sustainability strategy that is unfolding in golf, which has been developed through collaboration with the game’s governing bodies and associations, and key environmental stakeholders.

This will feature specific programmes and campaigns centring on golf facility development, facility management and the staging of golf events.

The focus on The 2010 Ryder Cup will give delegates insight into the partnership behind the action plan, the scope of issues covered, how policy has been established across key staging topics, and ultimately how this is being turned into tangible achievements.

Key targets include significantly reducing the number of people in cars; moving towards a zero waste event; procurement of Fairtrade and local products, materials and services; use of low carbon vehicles for transportation; and the protection and enhancement of the site ecology, landscape and significant cultural heritage interests.

As the environmental action plan for the event moves into the hugely important ‘procurement’ phase, GEO looks forward to comparing Ryder Cup efforts with initiatives in other sectors and at other events. As Benjamin Warren says, “In particular we are keen to learn more about how to unlock the influence that golf undoubtedly has across the supply chain, and across disparate business interests. Realising these opportunities would stack up to an incredible triple win – great golf, in a great environment, with high profile business buy in.”

GEO is an independent, non-profit organisation working to maximise the social, environmental and economic benefits of golf.

Borne out of a partnership project between the European Golf Association, R&A, European Tour and European Commission, GEO has been driving environmental initiatives in golf since 1994. In succeeding years it has established partnerships with major golf organisations worldwide and been a catalyst for action across the sector.

The comprehensive new GEO website is scheduled to launch late April 2009. A group of 60 pioneer clubs in Europe and beyond are currently trialling the on-line GEO Certification system.

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