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Creating a sustainable legacy


Creating a sustainable legacy

Sports organisations discuss good practice of the lasting impact of mega-events.

The second panel discussion of Sustainable Innovation in Sport conference included representatives from the IOC, UNFCCC and UEFA. Discussions focussed on the sustainable legacies of sports mega events. This is a major topic of debate. Is it a buzzword used to justify spending, or is it the real value in hosting an event? The bidding process for events like the Olympic Games can last almost a decade. Part of this process is developing a legacy concept – what happens next?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) are developing a framework that sets out core values to be considered for legacy planning. The pillars of legacy development are

  • Aligning with Agenda 2030 in trying to achieve the SDGs
  • Agenda 2020 – the IOC’s own commitment to ensuring host cities have a sustainable vision
  • City vision – how the host city plans to use the games as a platform for development
  • Societal expectations – ensuring the games address the key issues affecting contemporary society (environmental; refugees etc)

Every actor within the sport for development community is working toward Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals. Under the current mission and values of Olympism there are five SDGs that the movement works toward. The new framework aims to incorporate up to 12 SDGs and organising committees are being encouraged to work toward as many as possible.

A contentious issue in the debate is the ongoing use of infrastructure. There are numerous examples of infrastructure not being fully utilised in the aftermath of the games. Images of the disused facilities from previous games are well known. The Maracana stadium in Rio was upgraded to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Following disputes, the stadium is lying unused and in a state of disrepair. This follows similar examples with the Birdsnest Stadium in Beijing and the Olympic Village in Sochi.

UEFA are implementing their own plans to create a more sustainable event. The 2020 European Championships will be held in several stadiums and cities across Europe. This moves away from the tradition of a single host nation. There has been criticism that this is a commercial move to increase the reach and profits of the organisation. However, the focus is on using infrastructure that is already in place. One example of this is that only two new stadiums are to be built for the tournament. UEFA hope that this model can be applied to future tournaments, ensuring that the carbon footprint is minimised.

Panellists agreed that a single sports mega-event will not eradicate problems associated with climate change. The stage on which they are set can, however, make a difference in influencing behaviours.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 17:53