Over the years sustainability has often been referred to as ‘the elephant in the room’, but it was a different kind of mammal that took centre stage at the European Golf Association AGM in Barcelona last week.
Representing WWF, the largest environmental NGO on the planet, with its unmistakable Panda logo, Richard Holland, Director of Market Transformation spoke with representatives of over 40 national golf Federations, as well as other international golf associations in attendance, including The R&A, European Tour and FEGGA.
He highlighted the scale and speed of innovation that is needed to tackle climate change, deforestation and water scarcity, as well as the expectation that is building strongly across business, government and society to deliver on sustainability. He congratulated the sport on steps made to date and encouraged golf to push on collectively and to embrace its potential positive value – enhancing nature, conserving resources and supporting communities.
Holland said: “While golf is not WWF’s leading social and environmental concern, the sport does have a clear case to answer. The perception in the outside world is that the sport does generate often avoidable negative impacts. As you get to know and understand the sport, it becomes clear that golf has potential to become known for its positive contribution to communities and the environment. The OnCourse platform pioneered by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), The R&A and other partners – and which is ISEAL compliant – provides the industry with the right tools and platform to produce change at scale.”
Also on the speakers line up was Steve Isaac, Sustainability Director at The R&A, who added: “It is incredibly valuable to hear this kind of balanced and informed external perspective, which reminds us just how widely and deeply sustainability is driving business outlook, government policy and consumer choice. The R&A recognises the importance of, and strongly supports, sustainability in golf. Golf has to proactively and voluntarily be at the forefront of that movement, otherwise the sport’s growth, profitability and course quality will suffer.”
Richard Heath, EGA General Secretary said: “WWF’s presence this week further impressed the sustainability imperative on the EGA membership. Richard Holland supported the EGA’s cooperation with GEO, emphasising the value of a unified approach for assisting each EGA member national golf authority fulfil its own role in golf’s sustainable development and for inducing perception change and greater community acknowledgment of golf’s environmental benefits.”
Jonathan Smith from GEO added: “We congratulate the EGA for their foresight in putting this vital topic at the front and centre of their AGM and further opening the conversation and representation of sustainable golf. We also thank to Richard for taking time to address and debate with this important group. It was great to hear his support for the work carried-out to date and to have him reinforce the need for future scale up and roll out, to demonstrate that current leadership is not niche, but industry norm.”
Further information on golf’s approach to sustainability and industry tools can be found at www.golfenvironment.org
European Golf Association www.ega-golf.ch