Green sports get their moment at COP21

sports stadium fans
ShutterstockCsaba Peterdi
As sports teams increase efforts to curb waste and integrate renewable energy, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the industry wants a say in the COP21 United Nations climate talks.

As the COP21 United Nations climate change talks move into their second and final week, the green sports movement is getting ready for its day in the sun. Or, to be more exact, its three days, starting today.

With that in mind, we serve up, for your weekend reading, a rundown of the sports-centric programming slated for COP21.

The centerpiece of the Green-Sports presence at the U.N. climate change conference in Paris is Monday’s Sustainable Innovation in Sports (SIIS) symposium.

As mentioned in an earlier GreenSportsBlog story, SIIS is organized by Climate Action, with the high patronage of the French Sports Ministry and in association with the Green Sports Alliance. It brings together leaders from government, U.N., sports leagues, teams and governing bodies along with corporate sustainability leaders.

Climate Action’s Claire Poole laid out the organization’s hopes for SIIS, saying it "will highlight the unique opportunity that sport offers to the wider climate change effort."

The goal is to capitalize on momentum already building in the space.

"The number of people engaged in the world of sport and the passion and commitment of those people is unrivaled," Poole said. "To drive positive change towards a more sustainable world through sport, as all of our speakers are doing, is truly inspirational.”

But SIIS isn’t the only Green-Sports action taking place at COP21.

The Green Sports Alliance is playing host to two panel events this weekend which will demonstrate, according to its president, Allen Hershkowitz, "the global sports industry, one of the world’s most powerful economic sectors and arguably the most visible, is helping to lead that cultural shift towards ecologically smarter behavior."

Saturday’s panel, moderated by Hershkowitz, features:

  • Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E, the groundbreaking electric vehicle (EV) grand prix circuit.
  • Neil Beecroft, sustainability manager, UEFA, the governing body of European pro soccer
  • Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding; Protect Our Winters Board member
  • Omar Mitchell, vice president, corporate social responsibility, National Hockey League

Scott Jenkins, the Alliance’s board chairman and general manager of the über-green Mercedes-Benz Stadium, future home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, will take the moderator’s microphone Sunday. He will discuss the power of green-sports with:

  • Chris DeVolder, sustainable design leader, HOK, a pioneer in the sports stadium architecture sector.
  • Sheila Nguyen, executive director of the Sports Environment Alliance, the leading organization in Australia for the promotion of green sports
  • Alexis LeRoy, founder and CEO, ALLCOT Group, an international, renewables-focused company that develops sustainable energy and forestry projects.

Both panels start at 11 a.m. EST (5 p.m. Paris time) and can be streamed on the Alliance’s web site.

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