“Man, another game got cancelled!” Disappointment over cancelled games due to extreme weather has become a common sentiment among sport fans. As a fervent sport lover, I’m concerned about the impact of climate change on sports.
This issue is global. From smog-filled marathons in Beijing to flooded soccer fields in the UK, these instances remind us how climate change disrupts the routines of athletes and sport enthusiasts worldwide. Experts have also warned that rising temperatures is likely to make hosting summer tournaments difficult, with flooding risk looming over many stadiums. Clearly, the sport industry bears the brunt of climate change, underscoring the need to address the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) concerns.
Sport is a highly influential platform, perfectly positioned to drive meaningful environmental and societal changes. Immensely popular and captivating, sport possesses an unparalleled power to reach and engage people across the world. Furthermore, the sport business encompasses a large ecosystem of suppliers and service providers that work behind the scenes or cater to the sport-related interests of the public.
With great power comes great responsibility. Sport organizations and athletes are capable of doing more than just adapting to climate change. They can be ESG ambassadors proactively championing sustainability by embracing ESG-conscious practices and conveying impactful messages. Their words and actions carry incredible weight and easily heed the attention of millions more. Whether it’s adopting eco-friendly systems in stadium management, advocating cleaner energy solutions, or educating fans, the industry has the ability to spark meaningful conversations and inspire collective actions.
The Tokyo Olympics exemplified this with some thought-provoking sustainability initiatives, including the Olympic torch crafted from recycled aluminium, the medals made from recycled electronic devices, and athlete’s beds built from recyclable cardboards. It sent a simple, but powerful message that prioritizes sustainability over tradition, glory, and comfort.
Collaboration with the sport industry also presents enormous opportunities to bolster ESG values and enhance brand reputation. NFL Green, the NFL’s environmental program, partners with corporate sponsors, local communities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to minimize the environmental impacts of the league’s major events in the host communities.
These examples highlight sport’s potential in advocating ESG causes and driving sustainability changes. Now more than ever, people want to be affiliated with sport organizations that are willing to look beyond money and trophies to make ESG a priority. This is a compelling moment that marks the intersection of sport, ESG, and sustainability.
作者：Jeffrey Tong - ICSD