Sustainability leaders from around the world gathered in Washington DC 10th-11th May as the annual ISEAL Global Sustainability Standards Conference took place. The event saw the sport of golf stepping forward to underscore the event’s focus on innovation.
Representatives from The R&A and USGA, alongside full ISEAL Member GEO (Golf Environment Organization) addressed the conference’s Opening Reception, alongside Jörg Frieden, Executive Director, Board of the World Bank and Crystal Davis, Director, Global Forest Watch, World Resources Institute.
Throughout the event golf was prominent and its contributions were well received among the diverse cross section of over 350 national and international businesses, government agencies, NGO’s, academia and consultancies –the only sport represented during the three-day event.
The opening reception speeches reflected the value and relevance of golf’s presence.
ISEAL Executive Director, Karin Kreider said: “Representing a growing community of collaborative partners across the sport, we are delighted to see GEO bring this example of sectoral innovation to the conference. By coming together around a platform of custom built standards, assurance, certification and reporting, golf has established some of the central components of a cohesive and credible strategy – helping define clear expectations, offering a trusted means of recognition, and being able to monitor and report trends and impacts, locally, nationally and globally. And of course, the added value here to the sustainability movement is the role that this enables golf to play as a valued advocate for change across wider business and society; harnessing its visibility and reach.”
Steve Isaac, Director – Golf Course Management at The R&A, governing body of the sport outside of the USA and Mexico and significant investor in GEO’s work added: “Sustainability is a key priority for The R&A, and we are fully committed to helping drive evolution and change in and through the sport around the world. Positive practical action across the nature, resources and community agendas is good for golf, for the people we serve and for the environment we share. It’s a big opportunity and responsibility, and we are delighted to be here, participating, listening and learning, amongst this alliance of inspiring examples of proactive leadership”.
Kimberly Erusha, Ph.D., Managing Director of The USGA Green Section said, “For more than 100 years the United States Golf Association has committed to funding research and providing expertise to foster innovation and help courses manage resources efficiently. As a result of that investment, we continue to see positive change through the adoption of best management practices, not only in golf, but within communities that maintain a wide array of recreational facilities. Our ability to share knowledge through education outreach and enter into a global dialogue on all aspects of sustainability is vital to the future of outdoor sports. We are proud to help lead those discussions and provide data towards that ideal.”
Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO summed up: “The timing is perfect – with sustainability now unequivocally a business imperative, the sport invited back into the Olympic Movement, and with a desire from across clubs, developments and tournaments to evolve and innovate. We have seen how robust, globally to locally applicable standards, certification and reporting systems can help support and accelerate that positive change.
“As a result of the industry’s research, advocacy and investment, combined with specialist solutions and services, golf is now extremely well placed to drive collective action and generate tremendous results. GEO is proud to serve the sport in sustainability, and to be an active part of ISEAL, which does so much to ensure the ongoing dynamism and credibility of the global standards and certification community.”
The seventh annual Global Sustainability Standards Conference, focused on a theme of innovation and evolution, exploring how standards and certification can use new tools and technological advances to grow their impact.
Along with GEO, The R&A and USGA, golf industry representation was further strengthened by the presence of David Withers, CEO and President of Jacobsen, the only ISO 14001 accredited equipment supplier to the sport.
Beyond golf, the conference featured a diverse array of bodies such as WWF, Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade, Marine Stewardship Council, World Bank Group, The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the World Resources Institute.
Further information on ISEAL and the Global Sustainability Standards Conference, which ran from the 10th-11th May 2016 in Washington, DC, along with an interview with Jonathan Smith of GEO can be found at http://www.isealalliance.org/about-us/annual-conference/global-sustainability-standards-conference