Sustainable mobility for Dublin as the focus of GAA’s action plan

As previously reported, the ACCESS project entered its final phase which will span over its last year. The project meeting Dublin, held early April, allowed the participating sport organisations to present their Action Plans containing various Pilot Actions.

When it comes to the Gaelic Athletic Association, their Action Plan is very much dominated by sustainable mobility as the primary focus. The Plan with three Pilot Actions wants to see enhancing active mobility, single-occupancy car usage reduction and further embedding of the sustainable mobility concept in local GAA clubs. And they won’t be taking this challenge up alone.

Apart from the Croke Park, the home of the GAA, many other stakeholders will partake in this endeavour. Active Cities, who exists to engage, maintain, and increase the number of citizens, regardless of age and ability, participating in sport and physical activity and thus contribute to achieving the Active Cities concept, which was built on the principles of the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity developed by the World Health Organisation in 2018. The Technological University Dublin will be contributing to the workplan by providing expert advice on sustainable mobility solutions, behavioural change, and community engagement in sporting sector. The local authority will be represented by the Transportation Planning department of the Dublin City Council who will be providing local authority planning and transport expertise and support and act as a liaison with other relevant city council departments. Furthermore, certain Pilot Action will see additional partners, based on the objectives of each of them.

That will indeed be the case with the high-density bicycle parking the GAA would like to propose. Dalymount Park, the 4500-seat stadium, is the home of Bohemian FC and located a mere 2 kilometres along the Royal Canal in the north of Dublin. So obviously, the identification of a number of potential sites for the hosting or development of high-density bike parking facilities in the area would serve not only for the organisation of the Pilot Action itself, but also as a resource for both the stadia and the local authorities in future planning of increased event bike parking in the area. Bohemian FC will partake in this exercise, as well as the Dublin City Council’s Sports Events & Capital Projects department. This exercise would cater for the pilot event but would also act as a test case and demonstrator for potential future facilities across the city and island.

The not-insignificant parking facilities at Croke Park had traditional been marketed as a benefit for staff and as a selling-point for conference centre clients, which has encouraged a culture of car – and very often single-occupancy car – travel to and from the stadium. Changing this culture requires not only organisational changes to the management of stadium car parks but also a programme of behavioural change. Therefore, a multifaceted approach to the introduction of a sustainable mobility plan for the stadium will be required, covering staff engagement and training, car park management, clear and positive communication of impacts and alternatives, and constructive engagement with Conference Centre clients. To support this Pilot Action, the Smarter Travel team of the GAA will team up with the National Transport Authority.

To replicate and capitalise on these exercises, the GAA also wants to reach out to the Dublin County Boards of the GAA, LGFA, Camogie Association and achieve a sort of a domino effect which would be reflected in an increased number of people travelling sustainably to their chosen matches through Dublin GAA survey, number of Dublin club representatives trained up in sustainable mobility solutions for GAA, engagement through Sustainable and Active travel communications campaign and a trialling of measures – e.g., cycle bus and group travel with a small number of Dublin clubs.

In order to put all these pilot actions into the context of the ACCESS project – four key policy instruments were identified as ones that the pilot actions would contribute to. Dublin City Council Climate Neutral 2030 strategy has its own Climate Action plan which identifies Sustainable Mobility as a key component of the overall Climate Action Plan – in both its emissions targets and in its development of solutions that improve the life of and health of citizens of the city.

Furthermore, the Dublin City Centre’s Transport Plan was developed as a roadmap for the achievement of the transport and mobility objectives of the Dublin City Development Plan 2022-2028, which targets a 40% reduction in general traffic and significant increases in walking, cycling and public transport.

In terms of climate, on the national level, the Pilot Actions want to address the Government of Ireland’s National Climate Action Plan (CAP), which sets out the national roadmap for the achievement of emissions reductions and climate action targets. This action addresses two themes of the CAP in particular: citizen engagement and behaviour change, especially in the CAP objectives of capturing examples of best practice on embedding sustainability and climate actions in leisure activities and developing demonstrator programmes for sustainable mobility in general. Finally, the National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals 2022-2024 will not be left out from the overall framework, either. The GAA is a national Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) champion and this partnership being developed for these Pilot Actions, between local authorities, third-level institutes, sports organisations, and local communities, supports the SDG Implementation Plan Strategic Objective 3 of developing greater partnerships for the SDGs.

Image copyright: Chris Bellew/ Fennell Photography

A new phase of the ACCESS project starts as the GAA delivers a training on Community Engagement and Outreach

An important project milestone was reached as the four sport organisations will start multiplying and replicating the ACCESS methodology nationally, reaching out to dozens of clubs to involve them in nation-wide campaigns for improving environmental management in sports and teaming them up with respective local and regional authorities.

This phase, originally foreseen for the last year of the project, has the objective to turn the four participating sport organisations – FC Porto, the Danish and the Welsh Football Associations and the GAA into reference points and changemakers when it comes to environmental management improvements in sports and their alignment with strategies and policies of their local authorities. Considering the sizes and coverage of these sport organisations, and given their previous initiatives in this field and especially the ACCESS journey they’ve been through, this phase is expected to attract attention across the four countries and interest from numerous professional and amateur clubs who would want to benefit from this coaching experience.

In order to facilitate the process, and to provide some basic insights, tips and examples of good practice, the GAA delivered a training on community engagement and outreach, on 9 April, by taking advantage of the project meeting which was taking place at Croke Park in Dublin. The training module saw experienced trainers, facilitators and practitioners who developed customised approaches and methodologies within the GAA’s Health and Community Club. Brid O’ Dwyer, Jimmy D’Arcy, Colin Regan and Geraldine McTavish delivered a workshop based around the three themes of mobilisation, communication and inclusion, with the common thread across all themes of linking of community and sport in both narrative and practice.

The training allowed the participants to discuss some challenges and lessons learnt when it comes to working with disadvantaged communities, ensuring gender equality and more, as many of the ACCESS project team members in the participating sport organisations are overseeing exactly the same or similar processes in their countries.

Back to the outreach and engagement itself – this process will be done through an initial mapping the sport organisations need to carry out. This would see an outreach exercise which would end with identifying at least 5 amateur and/or professional clubs which would express their interest to adhere to the campaign by designating a “Green Team”, not only to coordinate the engagement during the project’s lifetime, but also as a liaison between the project and the rest of their club, including their local authorities, members and the wider local community. This exercise would also allow those interested to contribute to the creation of a Charter document which would summarise the expectations, requirements and actions that need to be taken in order to meet the project’s overall objectives. Once officialised and published in October 2024, it would be put forward to a much wider target group to adhere to it. A special focus and efforts will be put on rural and remote communities in order to ensure fair involvement and participation.

Once adhered, the clubs will undergo a club audit and community consultation which would feed into tailored Club Action Plans, similar to the ones that the ACCESS project partners developed recently. These Club Action Plans won’t only serve as a plans for improvements in those adhered clubs who signed the Charter but would also ensure considerable replication and multiplication of the ACCESS project’s methodology beyond the project’s lifetime.

Finally, this entire process would see a development of a manual that would summarise the approaches, methodologies and activities carried out.

Therefore, if you are a football or a GAA club in Ireland, Denmark, Portugal or Wales, don’t hesitate getting in touch with us.

Large and engaged audience at the GAA’s ACCESS conference at Croke Park on sustainability in sports and community engagement

Held under the name “Activating the Sports Sector for Sustainability”, the event gathered 40 participants and speakers as a part of a diverse motivational and inspirational day at the home of the GAA, Croke park.

The event saw representatives from the Irish sports sector as well as government, community and climate stakeholders, as well as individual practitioners from Ireland and abroad. Being all in one room allowed them to share and discuss challenges related to the climate crisis and its impact on sport and how to support communities to take action to improve the sustainability of the sports organisations they are involved in while at the same time reducing their own environmental impact.

The event came as the 3rd such local dissemination event of the ACCESS project after the ones held in Pisa and Porto, and perfectly coincided with the launch of the Community Engagement and Outreach phase of the project – a great occasion to put community work and mobilisation in the spotlight.

Facilitated by Jimmy D’Arcy of the GAA’s Community and Health department, the event was opened by Peter McKenna – Stadium & Commercial Director at Croke Park Stadium who welcomed the participants with his opening speech. He reflected on the history of sustainability and how it evolved into something that requires holistic and coordinated approaches. He reflected on the Croke park stadiums achievements and performances he was proud of and which they continuously want to challenge and improve. Beside a zero-waste stadium, locally sourced food under the brand new “50 Miles Menu” and other practices, the latest additions to the environmental portfolio are the water harvesting system and solar panels which would make Croke Park even more self-sustainable. To further explain the GAA’s efforts in greening sports across the island, Jimmy presented the GAA’s Green Club Programme which currently oversees some 200 GAA clubs and venues adhered to the programme and supports them in implementing various measures for improving their environmental performances.

The following two insights, which perfectly complemented each other, provided some recent data on the the environmental impact of sports and how sport organisations are tackling those. Precisely, Ernest Kovacs, a project manager at ACR+ and the ACCESS project’s coordinator, provided some figures on current trends in environmental management in sports. The recent survey and interviews showed that a lot of sport organisations are starting with little steps, low-handing fruits, addressing aspects ad processes which can give instant results, often visible for a human eye, too, such as waste prevention, separate collection, elimination of single use plastic or imposing the same on contractors and caterers. What he highlighted as a challenge and currently a still rather untapped resource is the cooperation among various stakeholders among the sport value chain, especially between local and regional authorities, members, academia and the sport organisations themselves, which could innovate the environmental improvements and elevate the results, making the resources and efforts more worthwhile and contributing to a common good. This brought him to the ACCESS project which had exactly these observations and current state of play as an inspiration for for a project. he quickly walked the audience through the project and explained where the four participating sport organisations stand at the moment.

Seán McCabe on the other hand focused on the club members, supporters and visitors and the environmental impact they have and the great potential for decreasing it through community engagement and behaviour change. Being the Climate Justice and Sustainability Officer at Bohemian FC, he is certainly creating a revolution in the way sport organisations can influence behaviours and allow their supporters to become a part of a joint initiative. The club’s climate cooperative “The Spark” wants to work with community partners, local businesses, and some big institutions to bring a cooperative spirit to local climate action for a just future. After all, Seán said that climate action and measures should not be imposed on people but rather allow them to develop their own climate identity.

The event continued with a Q&A session moderated by Jimmy D’Arcy with an active involvement of the audience. The two speakers were Colin O’Brien who oversees all the sustainability related projects at Croke Park and Lisa Cafferky, a Student Sport Pathway Manager at Trinity College.

Finally, an interactive session closed the morning in form of a panel discussion, moderated by Míde Ní Shúilleabháin, GAA Green Club Sustainability Advisor. The panellists included some of the leading practitioners and experts in community engagement and community work in general, as well as circular economy, namely Dr Robert Mooney – Aarhus, Climate Adaptation, Citizen Engagement and Local Government Division, Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), Elaine Nevin of Eco-UNESCO, Roisin Greaney – Researcher and Community Engagement Coordinator – Climate Justice, TASC – Ireland’s Think tank for Action on Social Change, Padraig Fallon who currently sits on the GAA Green Club Steering Group as chair, Louise Bourke of Sport Ireland and Hugh Coughlan, the Regional Co-ordinator of Eastern-Midlands Region Waste Management Planning Office and ACR+’s Vice-President.

This panel, full of expertise and skills, discussed some of the key challenges when it comes to community engagement. Roisin Greaney highlighted those such as reaching out and involving disadvantaged, rural and remote communities, or single parent families. Other challenges included skills and capacities needed for the transition towards circular economy and sound environmental management in sports. It was agreed that those sport organisations who are frontrunners in those fields need to share their learnings and tools, because it is difficult to expect from smaller federations to advance solely on their own. Hugh Coughlan also mentioned the new all-Ireland Waste Strategy, recently adopted, as an example of a consultation exercise in which the GAA took part, too. Dr Robert Mooney on the other hand said that DECC took seriously this initiative and decided to label the coming year as the year of community engagement – certainly a great added value for the ACCESS project.

To finish, the best conclusion one could think of came from the audience – “We need to take advantage of this momentum; there is so much power, skills and tools in this room which many sport organisations could benefit from”.

Local and national Action Plans in focus as the ACCESS project partners meet in Dublin

The six project partners met in Dublin on 9 April at Croke Park, for their regular Steering Committee meeting which was marked by an important milestone – the announcement and sharing of their Action Plans.

While the meeting allowed the project partners and its coordinator, ACR+, to catch up with each other, share latest project developments and discuss challenges, ideas and upcoming tasks, the very focus of the meeting was on the four Action Plans.

These Action Plans come as a result of a process which started slightly more than a year ago, seeing more than a dozen interviews conducted with the staff of the four participating sport organisations – FC Porto, the GAA and the Football Associations of Wales and Denmark, study and field visits of stadiums and training centres in Cardiff, Porto, Dublin and Copenhagen. The observations, conclusions and the Key Performance Indicators analysis results, allowed the project’s two technical partners – ACR+ and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies to get back to the sport organisations with their feedback, highlighting the hotspots and potentials for environmental management improvements in the sport organisation’s operations and processes. In the meantime, the four sport organisations reached out to their local and regional public and private stakeholders, inviting them to join the four Circular City Committees in Wales, Dublin, Porto and Denmark. Fed by the findings from ACR+ and Sant’Anna School.

This meeting in Dublin allowed the project to enter a new phase as the four Action Plans describing the pilot actions the four sport organisations would start implementing were presented. A diverse set of pilot actions spanning over energy and water management, waste prevention, single use plastic phase out, sustainable, active and shared mobility, as well as rethinking the space dedicated to different modes of transport, and finally awareness raising will mark the last year of the project, seeing more than 20 local and regional private and public stakeholders involved in their implementation – an objective the project had from the beginning – enhanced cooperation between sport organisations and their stakeholders for achieving more circularity in their cities and regions.

The stakeholders who will be involved in these pilot actions range from public authorities and agencies, such as waste, water or energy agencies, public transport providers, academics and fellow sport venues and teams from the same city and finally private sponsors.

We will be announcing the Action Plans, one by one in the coming weeks, so make sure you stay tuned.

ACCESS to appear at “Sport as a Tool for Healthy and Green Planet” symposium sharing insights in cross-sectoral cooperation in sports

The event, on 10 April, in Brussels, will gather hands-on practitioners from the sport, environment and health sectors, public institutions, and policy-makers for a full-day networking and exchange.

Consistent with the European Green Deal, New European Bauhaus and Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA) recommendations of the European Commission, the symposium aims to position more soundly the efforts of the grassroot sport organisations to support behaviour change for sustainability, engage diverse stakeholders from various sectors (health, education, environment, policy etc.) and translate the EU green policies on the national and local levels through bottom-up activities.

This will be a great opportunity for Ernest Kovacs of ACR+ to bring forward the cross-sectoral approach and methodology ACCESS has been using to address these challenges, as well as the recent findings and observations obtained from the project activities and outlooks for future.

While the event will be opened by Laska Nenova and Vlad Fedorov on behalf of BG Be Active and Reka Veres of Budapest Sport Service Provider Nonprofit Ltd, other speakers and panellists will include Peter Ficher of the European Commission’s sport unit, Hilal Erkoca of the International Sport and Culture Association and Maxime Chusseau of Sustainability International among many others. All of them will be contributing to two interactives sessions revolving around a panel discussion “Where policy meets practice” and a workshop on sustainability and grassroot sports.

“Sport as a Tool for Healthy and Green Planet” symposium is a joint effort between BG Be Active, Budapest Sport Service Provider Nonprofit Ltd, ISCA, Sport and Sustainability International collaborating to present the learnings, tools and resourses of two international projects – Sport #WithoutWaste led by BGBA, and City, Green Go – led by Budapest Sport Service Provider Nonprofit Ltd.

The two Erasmus+ Sport project consortium partners spawned from the common belief that grassroots sport can contribute to the climate action awareness and drive the actions towards the environmental sustainability.

Sports contribution to nature conservation, ecosystems and biodiversity discussed during the ACCESS’ 4th webinar episode

A topic that doesn’t necessarily comes to one’s mind when environmental management in sports is discussed, but when put in the bigger picture, natural environment, ecosystems and biodiversity can be affected as much as other environmental aspects such as resource use, waste production, air pollution or energy and water consumption.

The webinar, held on 15 March, wanted to reflect not only at individual nuisances, threats and impacts but also allow sport organisations, as well as local and regional authorities, venue owners and other stakeholders to understand how to address, measure and prevent those negative impacts. While the general conclusions, shared by many speakers, was that sports and nature need to go hand in hand and potential degradation of certain ecosystems can severely affect certain sports, namely water and winter sports and other sports in the great outdoors.

In order to provide the most suitable and relevant input and content, the webinar managed to gather some of the leading campaigners, experts and practitioners in this field. The obvious choice for opening the webinar was the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with Jana Janotova and Loredana Scuto. They provided a comprehensive overview of the problems, negative impacts and challenges that various stakeholders must be aware of through linking the existence of certain sports with the health of different ecosystems.

An important part of the webinar was also the presentation of their co-owned (with the IOC) imitative and campaign “Sports for Nature” which is already gathering 55 different national olympic associations, various sport federations and individual clubs.

From the academic perspective, Alessio Novi of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced studies provide some insight in a new project of theirs, which want to produce user friendly tools for measuring ecosystem service values and biodiversity impacts of sport organisations.

Two more speakers joined from Ireland, Míde Ní Shúilleabháin on behalf of the ACCESS project partner, the GAA and Barry Nolan, a wildlife expert who has extensive experience with planning and implementing biodiversity projects in sports grounds and many different contexts. The two of them provided a fair dozen of individual practices, installations, features and approaches which contribute to a more ecosystem-friendly staging of events and day-t-day operations.

Photo credit. IOC

A peculiar and uncommon, yet important topic as the focus of the fourth ACCESS webinar

Natural environment, ecosystems and biodiversity probably aren’t the first things one would think of when it comes to environmental sustainability of sports. Nevertheless, large sport events, renovations and buildings of existing or new large structures and venues, use of resources such as water, energy and more have a big impact on the living environment and ecosystems surrounding sport events.

Sport events are taking place in various settings – natural or rural, indoors or outdoors … Whatever the case is, certain negative impacts must not be ignored – land use, nuisances, habitat loss and more. All these impacts have a negative effect on the overall state of our natural environment, especially when it comes to habitats and biodiversity. These impacts can be caused by staging an event (light pollution, noise pollution), building or maintaining infrastructure (introducing invasive species, land use).

Cities and regions are putting a lot of effort in maintaining biodiversity, green areas among other and sports can play an important role in this.
Although not a usual suspect when it comes to environmental management, this module wants to look at the negative impacts sports make on flora and fauna through highlighting the dangers, showcasing solutions and features that would allow the natural environment to remain unharmed and strive alongside occurrences in sports.

In order to do so, the webinar will see the leading organisation in the field of nature conservation – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) joining the webinar. Jana Janotova and Loredana Scuto will open it with a comprehensive overview of the problems, negative impacts and challenges that various stakeholders must ne aware of. Thanks to their targeted initiatives for nature conservations in sports, they will also reflect on how sports can act for nature through the mitigation hierarchy and a couple of examples for each level. Loredana Scuto will then provide an “excursion” into sport and urban biodiversity, as urban settings are very common for large stadium sports. In order to provide follow up actions for the participants, IUCN’s recently launched “Sports for Nature” charter will be presented, as well.

From the academic perspective, Alessio Novi of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced studies will provide some reflections and way of measuring ecosystem services value and biodiversity impacts of sport organisations.

Two more speakers would join us from Ireland, Míde Ní Shúilleabháin on behalf of the ACCESS project partner, the GAA and Barry Nolan, a wildlife expert who has extensive experience with planning and implementing biodiversity projects in sports grounds and many different contexts.

11.00 – 11.10: Welcome and introduction to the webinar series by the host, Ernest Kovacs, ACR+
11.10 – 11.35: Nature conservation and biodiversity protection through sports: Challenges, solutions and resources; Jana Janotova and Loredana Scuto, IUCN
11.35 – 11.50: Understanding the concepts of ecosystem value services and measuring impacts on biodiversity; Alessio Novi, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
11.50 – 12.05: Nature and biodiversity conservation from a sport organisation perspective: tips and guidelines; Míde Ní Shúilleabháin, GAA (TBC)
12.05 – 12.20: Breathing nature into the urban environment – The Croke Park Stadium, a case study; Barry Nolan, Wildlife Management Services
12.20 – 12.35: Outdoor nature and biodiversity projects and initiatives; Poul Broberg, Danish Olympic Committee (TBC)
12.35 – 12.45: Discussion

The Danish Football Association gets awarded for its efforts in environmental sustainability

The Danish Football Association (DBU) has officially obtained the certification “Green Sport” under the Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF)’s sustainability programme.

Green sport is a two-year climate and sustainability certification offered by the Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) and targeted at DIF’s 62 specialist federations. The purpose of the certification is to support concrete behavioural changes in sport federations and associations as a means of reducing the climate and environmental footprint and to promote the agenda throughout society.

DBU is one of eight specialist associations that have received the certification. To be certified as a Green Sport association, DBU had to prepare a climate and sustainability strategy at the time of application and select two to four individual initiatives that were aligned with DIF. The agreed upon initiatives are circular economy, green transition, sustainable events, sustainable infrastructure – some of them perfectly reflecting DBU’s efforts and priorities under the ACCESS project, too.

In addition, DBU had to meet three mandatory requirements – appointing one person on the board and one in the administration who is responsible for the association’s work with climate and sustainability, participating in relevant thematic events organized by DIF, including being part of DIF’s climate and sustainability network, and contributing to sparring with other specialized associations and measuring selected parts of its climate footprint.

Certified associations must annually give an update on their climate and sustainability work at a meeting with DIF’s administration. The Green Sport certification is valid for two years. 


For the first time, DBU has made a comprehensive action plan for environmental and social sustainability in Danish football which is the overall frame for the green certification.

DBU’s action plan uses the UEFA terms Football Social Responsibility is based on 11 different FSR areas under the main headings Health, Social responsibility and Green transition. It is inspired by CSR and the SDGs, but it is adapted to the world of football. It is therefore no coincidence that there are 11 areas.

The action plan provides an operational framework on 63 initiate and manage FSR efforts and follows DBU’s overall strategy for Danish football – ‘gather and excite’. The action plan runs until end of 2025.

The EU is to take action for more gender equality in sports 

At the end of 2023, the Council  of the EU approved its conclusions on women and equality in the field of sport, with the ambition to increase the proportion of women in sports leadership positions, prevent all forms of harassment and protect victims of gender-based violence, and increase coverage of women’s sport competitions. 

First question that comes to your mind might be “What are European Council Conclusions and what do they mean?”. The European Council (which is constituted of every EU Member States’ head of state) adopts conclusions during EU summits to identify specific issues and highlight actions to take to solve these issues. In short: it now means that the Commission is called to include the sports sector in its gender equality strategies, leading to legal actions in Member States.  

These conclusions came as part of the European Union Plan for Sport for the period from January 2021 to June 2024. This plan established the Spanish Presidency (that took place from July 2023 to December 2023) as the leader of the “Safe Environment in Sport” key topic, which aimed at preventing harassment, abuse and violence, including sexual violence and any form of discrimination, by raising awareness and promoting the exchange of best practices and knowledge building.  

In addition to this key topic, the Spanish presidency was also the leader for the “gender equality” key topic, with the objective of increasing the share of women, especially among coaches and leadership positions in sports organisations and sports clubs, ensuring equal conditions of female and male athletes (and other sports positions such as coaches, officials, staff, etc.), and increasing the media coverage of women’s sport competitions and fight against stereotypes etc.  

As the European elections are coming in June, and these topics were not listed on the 2024 work programme of the Commission, these priorities will only be addressed in the following mandate, from 2025 onwards, we advise you to remain patient. However, the EU released a publication in December 2023 on the contribution of Sports to the European Green Deal, based on the work of the Green Sport Expert Group which was set up by the EU Work Plan mentioned above. An interesting read to keep us waiting for more!  

The 3rd ACCESS dissemination event to take place in Dublin, hosted by the GAA

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is looking forward to hosting the next project meeting and the local dissemination event of the ACCESS project in Dublin in April. Project participants will meet in Croke Park stadium, the historical, spiritual and administrative home of the GAA, to advance the Community Engagement work phase of the ACCESS project and to partake in tailor-made training on grassroots sporting engagement for climate action and circularity, focusing on the areas of Mobilisation, Communication and Inclusion

Beside these internal events and milestones, on Wednesday, 10 April the project partners will be joined by city, sporting and academic stakeholders for an open event onto discuss practical strategies for developing capacity and to support sustainability action as grassroots level in sport organisations. Some of Ireland’s leading sports, climate and community leaders will share their expertise and practical experience of issues including climate justice, place-based engagement, and structuring for success.

An event that looks promising in terms of showcasing the best examples of good practice in terms of environmental management in sports, community outreach and engagement, social and environmental responsibility and much more combined – while the complete agenda would be announced soon, with the registrations for this event opening shortly. Do not hesitate to express you interest in joining the event already know by getting in touch with us at

GAA Green Clubs – Spreading the Word

Since the launch of their Green Club Toolkit last year, ACCESS partner the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) have been engaging with sports bodies and policymakers across Ireland and overseas to share their experience of supporting community and grassroots sustainability engagement.

The GAA sustainability team have been called on to present the Green Club programme and its open access Green Club Toolkit to sports stakeholders and decision-makers in Ireland and overseas, including as a best-practice case study to an international, multi-sport audience at the Sport Positive Summit in London in October 2023 and to domestic governing bodies and sport administrators at the Sport Ireland Governance conference the following month.

The Green Club programme is also being shared in a wider sustainability context in Ireland as an example of practical, meaningful and effective climate engagement at community level, with the GAA invited to present their environmental sustainability work to domestic decision-makers and leaders of change at Ireland’s 4th National Climate Stakeholder Forum, hosted by Ireland’s Minister of the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamonn Ryan, and to senior leaders in the Department of Tourism, Arts and Sport. Indeed, the GAA’s Green Club Toolkit was highlighted as a model of grassroots sport sustainability engagement in the Irish government’s recent national Sports Capital funding call.

The GAA have also been busy promoting the Green Club Toolkit within their own membership, showcasing both the work of national Green Clubs and the ongoing sustainability initiatives of Croke Park at the stadium’s annual Sustainability Day during the 2023 All-Ireland Football semi-final, while Green Clubs across the island have been coming together in a series of provincial workshops designed to support clubs in their sustainability commitment and to promote the sharing of experience, ideas and best practice within the GAA community.

The impact of the Green Club programme across the country prompted RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster, to include stories from GAA Green Clubs in their recent series ‘Heated’, which showcases inspiring local and community climate action initiatives. Available to view here – access may be restricted in some geographic regions.

Croke Park launches its new “50 Mile Menu” to cut on catering’s environmental footprint and help local suppliers

The GAA games, as well as other events at Croke Park will never be the same, at least what concerns food and beverage and its environmental and carbon footprint!

As part of their ongoing sustainability efforts, Croke Park has launched innovative new menus to champion seasonally inspired and locally acquired food at meetings, conferences and corporate events hosted in the stadium. 

Most events now have a commitment to being as sustainable as possible, so event organisers will be eager to hear that every dish on these new menus have been given an innovative carbon ‘foodprint’ score, such is the level of detail and traceability put in place by the Meetings & Events team.  

Croke Park is also the first events venue in Ireland to launch a 50 Mile Menu, featuring ingredients sourced only within a 50 mile radius of Croke Park. Businesses can choose to build their entire meeting or event around the 50 mile offering.  

Croke Park Meetings & Events source 85% of all produce from within the island of Ireland, with 70% grown or produced from within a 50 mile radius of the stadium, including Croke Park’s very own farm. This statistic inspired the multi-award-winning events team to develop the new menus, which serves to showcase local suppliers and give clients more choice and control when it comes to deciding how strong a sustainability focus they want their event to have.

The Croke Farm in North County Dublin is well known for providing locally grown turf to keep the pitch in top condition, but what people may not know is that the farm is also used to grow a selection of herbs and fresh fruit and vegetables for use in the stadium’s menus. Croke Park has also partnered with Fingal Beekeepers’ Association to have beehives to support bee and pollinator activity and produce a unique Croke Park honey. It’s small scale for now, but the ambition is to grow this activity.

Not only will these new measures reduce food miles and lower the carbon footprint of an event, but it ensures those hosting meetings, conferences, trade shows and galas at Croke Park are serving the freshest and most seasonal produce available.

We take our sustainability as seriously as our sports and want to make it easier for businesses to plan sustainable and environmentally conscious events. Our Executive Chef, Ruairi Boyce, and his passionate team have created a new range of seasonal, sustainable, and sensational menus for attendees to enjoy at their next event, including our ground-breaking 50 Mile Menu. The 50 Mile Menu is our proudest food achievement to date, thanks to a talented team that are not only changing the face of stadium food, but pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of both catering and sustainable events.”

Marie Smyth, Croke Park Meetings & Events

Source and photo credits: Croke Park, Event Sustainability Live

FC Porto’s Dragao stadium in focus as ESSMA visits it for an interview

Ms. Teresa Santos, Sustainability Manager for FC Porto, uncovers the club’s progressive strides toward sustainability in professional sports venues.

ESSMA, the European Stadium & Safety Management Association, which unites the stadium industry in Europe and provides expertise and cooperation opportunities in six expert areas, among which a significant place occupies environmental sustainability, too. Titled “FC Porto’s Sustainable Odyssey: Navigating Challenges and Setting Benchmarks”, the insightful interview uncovers the club’s various improvements and progressive strides toward sustainability in professional sports venues.

According to Ms Santos, the evolution of sustainability in sports venues has become a central focus in professional sports, not only due to organisational demands but also heightened awareness within clubs about the positive and negative impacts they can make. Of course, those certainly with certain challenges and solutions. Top management commitment, resource allocation, and a long-term perspective are identified as key challenges in implementing sustainability strategies. Ms. Santos emphasises the need for top management buy-in and suggests showcasing the positive impacts on the local community, brand reputation, and long-term cost savings. Furthermore, cooperation among different departments within the club is highlighted as essential for successful sustainability integration. Ms. Santos points to the importance of open communication, shared objectives, and a unified commitment to maximize the impact of sustainability initiatives.

Looking at externalities, partnerships and supplier collaborations play a crucial role in supporting sustainability objectives. FC Porto ensures that suppliers align with their values and contribute positively to sustainability. The club’s sustainability efforts extend through partnerships, leveraging its exposure to make a broader impact.

As highlights and key focuses the club has in the field of environmental management, Ms Santos picked out sustainable food and beverage initiatives, renewable energy, sustainable waste management among other.

FC Porto has implemented several sustainable initiatives in their food and beverage practices, including reusable cups, food waste reduction projects, and donations to local organisations. These efforts contribute to a more environmentally friendly and socially responsible approach. These initiatives certainly contribute to a sound and responsible waste management, too – a remarkable 90% of matchday waste at FC Porto is recycled, thanks to a well-defined waste circuit, internal and external audits, and a commitment to proper waste segregation. The club’s waste management strategy involves various waste points and a dedicated Waste Centre equipped for effective waste processing.

To combat the energy crisis, FC Porto has embraced renewable energy sources, installing over 2,000 photovoltaic panels across its infrastructures. This initiative not only benefits the club but also shares surplus energy with the local community, marking a significant step towards energy sustainability.

To conclude the interview, which is available in its full version on ESSMA’s website, Ms Santos also shared her advice for clubs embarking on sustainability by emphasising the involvement of top management, internal analysis, goal definition, and transparent communication with stakeholders.

Source and photo credits: ESSMA

Football Association of Wales and M-SParc kick off Innovation Hub Partnership

M-SParc, Wales’ first dedicated science park, has been unveiled as home of the FAW Innovation Hub, on Ynys Mon.

The Hub will be the centre for research and development for football innovation in Wales, creating opportunities for businesses and academics from across Wales to tackle some of the challenges that face the game.
The aim is to innovate in the field, using local solutions to global football problems. By utilising science and technology to help solve challenges facing the modern game such as pitch conditions, carbon & energy issues, concussion protocols and emerging fields such as esports, where the very best gamers compete virtually, the partnership aims for Wales to become world-leaders in football innovation.

The launch profiled a number of innovative M-SParc based companies, already operating in the football sector, showcasing their projects and ground-breaking ideas to an FAW panel featuring Ian Rush, Wales’ first Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe and FAW Chief Executive Noel Money.

“We will now be able to take challenges from all over the world and bring them to the brilliant minds at M-SParc, in Ynys Mon, Gogledd Cymru, and work with them to find solutions. We see it as a win win.”

Noel Mooney, FAW Chief Executive

“I’m delighted to launch this exciting initiative today and to partner with the Football Association to surface challenges that the games face in Wales and identify the opportunities to develop innovative responses to those challenges here in Wales.”

Pryderi ap Rhisiart, M-SParc Managing Director

Source and photo credits: Football Association of Wales

The Welsh Football Association and the GAA spoke at Sustainability in Sports Conference

Hosted by the Welsh Sports Association (WSA), in collaboration with the Federation of Irish Sports (FIS) and supported by the the Welsh Government’s Agile Cymru initiative, the Conference aimed to deliver cross-border and economic co-operation across shared interests.

At the event which took place at the Principality Stadium on 16 November, attendees heard from Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden MS, who opened proceedings.

Following the Deputy Minister’s words, the room then heard from the event’s opening panel. Noel Mooney, CEO at the Football Association of Wales, discussed Cymru, Wellbeing and the World, how sustainability is at the forefront of the sporting landscape and its wider social value.

The room also heard from Padraig Fallon from the GAA on the organisation’s Green Club Programme and how, while the sport still has a long road ahead, sustainability had become a key aspect in every management structure within the sport – from club committees across Ireland to the GAA’s headquarters in Dublin.

Many other speakers appeared as panellists or presenters covering a wide array of sports including volleyball, lawn tennis, canoe, golf and swimming and explaining what environmental sustainability means for them or showcasing their concrete steps for achieving it.

Additional speakers, such as Jennifer Huygen, Head of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, at Community Leisure UK, or Impact3Zero founder Patrick Haslett contributed tot he Conference with various platforms and opportunities to build internal capacities, skills or seek support, such as the Carbon Literacy Programme, designed to educate a wide range of individuals on sustainability, eventually aiming to shift behavioural tendencies and other.

The final panel of the day saw the nominees of the Best Sustainability Initiative award at the WSA Sport Industry Awards 2023 take to the floor, namely Steve Ward, Newport Live CEO, Canoe Wales CEO Alistair Dickson and Dilwyn Griffiths, Sustainability Lead at Wales Golf.

“There were clear messages at the Conference and ‘collaboration’ and the ‘power and reach of sport’ were two of them. I have no doubt that all delegates left feeling that they had a responsibility to make a difference and if our Members can influence their players, coaches, officials and volunteers, to make lifestyle changes, then using sport’s reach, there is a quite a movement to tackle climate change.”

Andrew Howard, WSA CEO

“Sustainability, decarbonisation and the impact of climate change on sport are some of the issues that are becoming more and more prevalent for sporting organisations. Bringing together such a diverse and informative group of speakers throughout the day provided the opportunity to learn from those already on their sustainability journeys and the variety of steps that they have taken to mitigate their impact on the environment.”

Clare Louise O’Donoghue, Federation of Irish Sport Commercial & Business Services Manager

Source and photo credits: Welsh Sports Associations

FC Porto’s Circular City Committee starts to get its shape with the first meetings having taken place

February 9 marked a new milestone for FC Porto as the first meeting of the Circular City Committee (CCC) took place within the ACCESS project’s framework.

This meeting followed up on the ACCESS meeting and Multiplier Event held in Porto in September. Consequently, the counterparts were already quite familiar with the project, considering the roles they played during those events in September. However, FC Porto reminded them of what the Circular City Committee was and the role it played in the ACCESS project.

As the pilot partner of this project, FC Porto expects the local CCC to contribute to a more circular city of Porto through these collaborations and synergies with local and regional authorities. Indeed, this project will contribute to the goals of the Porto Climate Pact, promoted by the Municipality of Porto. This commitment represents a multi-stakeholder commitment aimed at achieving climate neutrality in the city of Porto by 2030.

The members that became a part of the Circular City Committee include LIPOR, the Association of Municipalities for the Sustainable Waste Management in Greater Porto, Porto Ambiente, as the Municipal Environment Company of Porto, responsible for urban waste management and public space cleaning as well as the Porto Climate Pact. Furthermore, Águas e Energia do Porto, the Municipal Company responsible for the integrated and sustainable management of the entire urban water cycle in the Municipality of Porto and AdEPorto, the private, non-ptofit Porto Energy Agency, with the status of Public Utility focusing on energy sustainability and environmental responsibility joined, too.

The meeting emphasized the importance of collaboration between these entities within the ACCESS project to achieve common sustainability goals. With the experience and knowledge of these members, FC Porto aims to promote innovative and replicable circular economy solutions among sports organisations. After analysing various possible projects, three projects with the highest potential to optimize environmental management best practices were identified: ‘Green Heart’ Certification, which aims to recognize, adopt, and implement sustainable practices in waste management, Water for Reuse (WfR), which aims to reuse water produced at the Freixo Wastewater Treatment Plant for irrigation and cleaning at the Dragão Stadium, and the Roadmap for decarbonization, aiming to mitigate climate change and achieve carbon neutrality.

All involved in this Circular City Committee believe that these projects will be emblematic for the city and the club. At the end of the meeting, it was defined that the next phase involves the development of an action plan where these different pilot tests will be identified, monitored, and evaluated before becoming new practices that positively contribute to the overall environmental impact of sports.

3 down, 2 to go: the ACCESS project is halfway through its webinar series!

The ACCESS project is counting down the number of the webinars before the last one takes place and the overall series end. Don’t miss the last two episodes and watch the recordings of the previous ones.

After the first three episodes that aired on the 15th day of November, December, and January, for which nearly 50 participants registered, the project partners are now putting together the content and agenda for the remaining two episodes – on 29 February and 15 March.

The previously covered topics included sustainability communication and reporting, environmental assessments and green procurement in sports. The diverse pool of speakers and contributors, including journalists and campaigners like Sudhanshu Verma of REVOLVE media, Thom Rawson of Sustainable Football and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Katie Cross of Pledgeball, Sant’Anna School of Advance Studies academics and collaborators Nora Annesi, Alessio Novi, Matteo Donelli, Federico Merlo, Niccolo Todaro, and practitioners and experts in the mentioned fields such as Lucie Segalas of Surfrider Europe Foundation, Nuria Cases of ACR+, Mervyn Jones of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water management and John Paxton of the Cardiff City Council.

The audience had the opportunity to reflect on the advantages, trends, tendencies and finding the appropriate audience when it comes to communicating sustainability. At the same time, that particular webinar wanted to discuss difference between qualitative and quantitative reporting, as a way to ensure continuous engagement in environmental improvements and being able to monitor them.

When it comes to environmental assessment – qualitative or quantitative, data or observation based, many approaches, tools and techniques exist out there – something that served as a perfect occasion to compare, discuss and understand their application in practice during the second webinar.

Finally, a principle and approach defined by green procurement, which is already well established in many public procurements and spending. By looking at the basics of green procurement, available tools and approaches, as well as all the added values not only for the environment but also local economy, employment and circular economy, the third webinar brought the idea closer to sport organisations.

The remaining two articles will look at event management as a complex set of processes and operations and nature and biodiversity which needs to be taken into consideration as an inseparable part of any ecosystem sports are taking place in.

Registration are still open, webinars are free of charge, please join us by registering here. In case you would like your testimonial, story or good practice to be featured within the project, do not hesitate to get back to us.

Rewatch the previous three webinars here:

Sustainability reporting: advantages, traps and finding your audience; 15 November

Environmental assessment: understanding your own impact and identifying potentials; 15 December

Green procurement: Securing environmentally friendlier goods and services; 15 January

The GAA brings its stakeholders and partners to Croke Park to establish the local CCC

Last September saw the establishment of the Dublin based Circular City Committee, as the Gaelic Athletics Association held the first meeting with its future members.

The GAA held their first Circular City Committee (CCC) meeting on 14 September 2023 at Croke Park stadium, gathering stakeholders from the Dublin City Council, the Regional Waste Management Office and Croke Park itself. The meeting aims were provide an overview of the ACCESS programme to all CCC members, identify membership or network gaps, and agree on the next steps in developing a CCC action plan.

Although this particular meeting did mark the official beginning of the local CCC’s journey within the ACCESS project’s framework, the contacts and partnerships established between those around the table are already long standing. Hugh Coughlan, the coordinator of the East Midland Waste Region and the vice president of the Association of Cities and Regions for Sustainable Resource management also a member of the GAA Green Club Steering group. Another participant at the meeting, Don Daly, the Project Manager with Dublin City Council, has already been working with Bohemians FC on the redevelopment of the Dalymount Park, a soccer stadium in the Croke Park area, and with the Aviva Stadium on the Euro 2028 bid. And finally, although absent for this meeting, Yvonne Cannon of the Dublin CARO – a coordinating body for local government efforts to deliver climate action, is also an official partner of the GAA Green Club Programme.

While the meeting allowed the GAA to share the findings from the previous phase of the ACCESS project and the conclusions and observations that were made during the audit phase, it proved fruitful also in terms of several follow-up actions that were discussed. Parallel consultation exercise are to be carried out with DCC – i.e., interviews/focus groups conducted to identify gaps and opportunities in interactions and shared interests and impacts between Croke Park and the city, with a focus on environmental sustainability and circularity. The Croke Park will also be further consulted and those outcomes of both Croke Park and DCC consultations would provide basis of second CCC meeting and inform discussions and decision on areas on which to focus.

And as if the newly established CCC wasn’t big and diverse enough, further outreach activities were considered, namely reaching out to Bohemians Football Club to discuss shared interests and challenges and to invite the Bohemians FC Climate Justice Officer to join the CCC, as well as a member of the Sustainability Team of Technical University Dublin and DCC Climate Action Officer.

The Danish FA sets up its Circular City Committee after identifying its members

The Danish FA’s project activities in the second half of 2023 were marked with setting up contacts with relevant stakeholders what resulted in establishing their Circular City Committee.

Parallel to similar activities in other partner countries and cities, the Danish FA run its own outreach campaign for identifying relevant stakeholders and partners in Denmark who the FA could work and collaborate with to improve their environmental management. The cooperation between interested parties was confirmed with the establishment of the Danish Circular City Committee which would oversee the further implementation of the ACCESS projects, its objectives and targets in this country.

The future partners and stakeholders to participate in this joint undertaking will represent private and public entities, namely the renowned brewery Carlsberg, the Danish Sport Federation, Sport Event Denmark, and the cities of Brøndby and of Copenhagen.

This group will be addressing occurrences and operations which revolve around large events and how decrease their environmental impact, green and active mobility and better environmental management of fan zones in the vicinity f the Parken stadium, Denmarks home ground in Copenhagen.

The general framework around large sport, as well as other leisure events, will be something the FA will further discuss with the Sport Event Denmark and the municipality of Copenhagen after their initial meeting in Frankfurt on 29 June. This first meeting allowed the parties to discuss and agree on project scope and purpose, define stakeholder’s role and responsibilities, and define pilot actions for CCC and define next steps. The objective would be to make large events, not only sportive ones, less dependant on resource consumption, minimise nuisances, avoid littering and more.

Linked tot he previous objective, and mentioning littering and less nuisances, the FA has also officialised a cooperation with Carlsberg. The wish is to reimagine and rethink the fan zones in the vicinity of the stadium. While a meeting took place on 11 October, the next steps will certainly see engaging with the Parken stadium to identify synergies between the management of food and beverages inside and outside the stadium, especially in fan zones. For the next CCC meeting the plan is to invite the Director of Venue and Services at Parken, as well as to select an external company to facilitate the project.

Finally, a process often addressed when wanting to decrease the environmental footprint is mobility. Together with the Danish Sports Association and the city of Brøndby which has ambitious climate and health policies, the promotion and availability of public and active transport was addressed on 20 November. What is yet to come is defining the method of qualitative and quantitative data collection, such as interviews, focus groups or surveys. The next meeting of he CCC might also see the Brøndby Football Club as a potential new addition to the lot.

With the spring of 2024, the four CCCs in Dublin, Porto, Wales and Denmark will be publishing their action plans for the remaining time on the project ensuring that plans currently being discussed get implemented by May 2025.

Credit: Photo by Stig Nygaard

Environmental assessments in sports covered by the second ACCESS webinar episode

Qualitative or quantitative, data or observation based, many environmental assessment approaches, tools and techniques exist out there – something that served as a perfect occasion to compare, discuss and understand their application in practice during the webinar.

To help with that, the webinar gathered speakers, both practitioners and academics who are standing behind some of the recently developed tools and methodologies or who have been successfully developing and improving the theory of environmental assessment and translating it into tangible and purposeful processes.

Data – collection, recording, monitoring and everything else that revolves around datasets and measurements can often be too advanced and out of reach for certain sport organisations. As an alternative, qualitative assessments based on observations and scenarios can be a viable alternative to data driven assessments. The Green Sports Hub’s recently developed Self-Assessment Tool allows sport organisations to understand and quantify their environmental performance based on current practices, processes and the way operations are conducted. Not only it quantifies the impact but the tool also gives recommendations and guidance for improving the score. Lucie Segalas who joined the webinar on behalf of the Green Sports Hub confirmed that tools like this allow even the amateur clubs who are run by volunteers to understand their impact to some extent. She added that the tool also includes a rich library of case studies and testimonials which allow the user to get inspired and motivated to do better.

Academics at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, who have a long running record in environmental assessments looked at quantifying the environmental impact of sports. Although based on more cumbersome and detailed processes, carbon footprint and life cycle analysis are widely accepted as methodologies which would allow sport organisations not only to obtain a baseline value but also set up a monitoring system and observe improvements over the long run. While Federico Merlo covered the principles of carbon footprint, Matteo Donelli provided a thorough lecture on life cycle analysis and all its complexities, as well as advantages.

Finally, Alessio Novi contributed to the webinar with a case study from the World Mountain and Trail Running Championship 2023 where he was assessing the environmental impact of various processes and operations that were needed for a successful staging of the event.

The next webinar episode will cover the topic of green procurement and supply chains. It will take place on 15 January 2024. Plenty of time to register, so don’t hesitate to do so here.

Re-watch the webinar here:

Green procurement as the focus of the ACCESS webinar series’ 3rd episode

Halfway through the ACCESS webinar series, after the first two successfully delivered episodes on communication and reporting and environmental assessments, the third webinar will be looking at green procurement and supply chains in sports, on 15 January 2024 at 11.00 (CET).

A key to sustainable and responsible resource management can certainly go as far as preventing unsustainable and environmentally intensive products to be produced in the first place. Many such solutions exist, all revolving around choices, commitments and strive for procuring and sourcing innovative and less environmentally harmful products. Furthermore, green procurement and responsible sourcing can easily be considered as something that can easily turn into a trend once a critical mass is created and the demand for sustainable products and services overtakes the demand for conventional and more harmful ones. A great principle to create impact and change processes and production pattern for better and for good.

The question this episode will try to answer is how to apply all these to sports. This training module will look at the basics of green procurement, available tools and approaches, as well as all the added values not only for the environment but also local economy, employment and circular economy in the first place. The speakers will also reflect at recent innovations and more importantly how to adapt green procurement to the needs of sport organisations. Labels and certifications are another topic this module would cover as procedures which precede the labelling and certification eliminate a lot of products which do not meet necessary environmental criteria. Finally, some case studies would be presented, too in order to complete the webinar with empirical experiences, too.

The speakers who will contribute to this 3rd episode of the webinar series will be, according to the agenda:

11.00 – 11.10: Welcome and introduction to the webinar series by the host, Ernest Kovacs, ACR+
11.10 – 11.25: Introduction to the principles and theory behind green procurement; Joan Prummel, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (TBC)
11.30 – 11.45: How to reduce environmental impact by adopting environmental criteria in purchases and procurement; Niccolo Todaro, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
11.45 – 12.00: Green procurement step by step: challenges and enabling trainings and tools to succeed; Nuria Cases, ACR+
12.05 – 12.20: Carbon Neutral Cardiff; John Paxton, Cardiff City Council
12.30 – 12.45: Green procurement in practice: Cycling World Championship, Glasgow 2023; Mervyn Jones, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water management
12.50 – 13.00: Discussion

The ACCESS webinar series continues with the second one on environmental assessment

After the successful first episode of the webinar series, which took place on 15 November, the next one, looking at qualitative and quantitative assessment of sport organisations’ environmental footprint is taking place on 15 December.

After having covered communications and reporting of the environmental performances in sports, as well as community engagement during the first webinar, it’s time to announce the next one which will take place on 15 December, titled “Understanding your own impact and identifying potentials”.

You can still register for this episode, as well as the entire series here.

When we look at sport events, we usually see what happens on the pitch and we remember the score. However, sport events are much more than those couple of hours at a stadium. Beside the arrival of teams, the supporters and all the other actors all the way to all the operations and processes that are needed to provide a memorable experience, significant environmental impact hides behind the curtains. In order to stage a sporting event, considerable impact is made in terms of travels, equipment that is used, food and drinks that are served, the infrastructure maintenance which is needed for the staging and more.

Various methodologies and tools are available for initial screening of the baseline scenario which would allow sport organisations to understand their overall impact and highlight the hotpots. Many of these tools and principles are already used for decades in assessing the environmental impact and footprint of other goods and services. When presented with a common denominator (e.g., CO2 equivalent, litres of water), various processes and occurrences can easily be compared to each other highlighting those that are more intensive than others.

The speakers will come from practitioners and academics who have been developing relevant tools for measuring qualitative and quantitative environmental impact, through scenarios, carbon equivalents and similar indicators. Lucie Segalas of the Surfrider Foundation Europe will present a recently developed tool for qualitative assessments and its advantages before Federico Merlo of Ergo srl and Matteo Donelli of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced studies present more quantitative approaches – namely, carbon footprint and Life Cycle Analysis. Alessio Novi of the same school, will present a recent case study on the World Mountain and Trail Running Championship.

The discussion after the presentations will allow the participants to discuss the differences between qualitative and quantitative assessments and the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

11.00 – 11.10: Welcome and introduction to the webinar series by the host, Ernest Kovacs, ACR+
11.10 – 11.25: Qualitative impact assessment with the Green Sports Hub Self-Assessment Tool; Lucie Segalas, Surfrider Foundation Europe
11.30 – 11.45: TBC
11.45 – 12.00: Carbon footprint, a way to measure the impact of the football world; Federico Merlo, Ergo srl
12.05 – 12.20: GAMES ERASMUS+ project: the environmental footprint of the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships (WMTRC) 2023; Alessio Novi, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
12.30 – 12.45: Life Cycle Assessment, what Is the environmental impact of a football match?; Matteo Donelli, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
12.50 – 13.00: Discussion

As the morning shows the day, the first webinar on communicating and reporting sustainability shows the rest of the ACCESS webinar series

If the first webinar episode is taken as an indicator for what is yet to come, the one on communicating and reporting sustainability in sports could surely be taken as a good indicator.

Not much after the ACCESS project’s webinar series were announced, 38 people registered for the set of five webinars exploring various fields of processes and operations which could make sport organisations’ environmental performances more comprehensive and allow them to apply relevant measures and modifications in order to lower their environmental impact. And this is exactly what the series have as an objective – to inspire, motivate and enable sport organisation to pursue improvements in their environmental management.

The webinar on communicating and reporting sustainability wanted to reflect on the advantages, trends, tendencies and finding the appropriate audience when it comes to communicating sustainability. At the same time, the webinar wanted to discuss difference between qualitative and quantitative reporting, as a way to ensure continuous engagement in environmental improvements and being able to monitor them.

Speakers included journalists, practitioners, campaigners and academics, namely Sudhanshu Verma of REVOLVE Media who joined the webinar at ACR+’s offices as a co-host and who provided an introduction on communication patterns and communication channels as well as the nature of messages that are being sent. A theoretical background in sustainability reporting was provided by Nora Annesi of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies who focused on the recently approved European Sustainability Reporting Directive (ESRD). To complete the webinar, as practitioners, campaigners and changemakers, the webinar welcomed Thom Rawson, and Katie Cross. Katie, who is a founder and CEO of Pledgeball, talked about her efforts to understand the behaviour of supporters and stadium goers and putting these findings and observations in function of driving a behavioural change. Thom, on the other hand closed the webinar with his work and recommendations on sustainability reporting and the case study of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC for which he coordinates their sustainability programme “One Pack, One Planet”.

The next webinar episode will cover the topic of environmental assessment and other assessments which indicate the level of a sport organisation’s environmental impact and footprint. Titled “Understanding your own impact and identifying potentials”, it will take place on 15 December 2023. Plenty of time to register, so don’t hesitate to do so here.

Re-watch the webinar below:

“Sustainability Reporting” to kick off the ACCESS training series this Wednesday!

As the first of the five webinars planned within the ACCESS training series framework, Wednesday, 15 November will see a webinar on sustainability reporting and more that goes with it. Tune in at 11.00 CET!

Communication and dissemination of ideas, efforts, objectives and finally achievements are an inevitable and essential part of processes which want to improve environmental management. However, in the age of instant and mass communication and dissemination, certain occurrences must be taken into consideration. Therefore, this particular training module would reflect on communication and dissemination patterns and trends, tendencies and requirements posed by authorities and professional associations, suitable target groups to be addressed and more.

The webinar will bring together some of the leading campaigners and experts in the field of communications and sustainability planning, as well as engagement. Journalists will be sharing their own points on view on trends and tendencies in communication and dissemination patterns as well as how these processes could look like in practice.

As a co-host, the project’s coordinator Ernest Kovacs will host REVOLVE Media’s Sudhanshu Verma, a seasoned communication strategist with over 15 years of experience, blending expertise in corporate communications and policy advocacy. As the Head of REVOLVE’s Brussels Office, he has been pivotal in shaping narrative strategies that drive behavioural change. His passion for environmental issues has led to significant contributions to climate action initiatives, both in Europe and on the international stage.

Online from England, we will have Thom Rawson and Katie Cross joining us online. Thom is a sustainability expert and founder of Sustainable Football, who currently leads the environmental sustainability programme at English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, called “One Pack, One Planet”. He will reflect on the practical application and deployment of communication and dissemination activities, as well as present what it looks like in the case of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Katie is founder and CEO of Pledgeball, a research-backed charity that supports sports bodies to effectively engage fans on environmental sustainability and climate change. Currently working with stakeholders across the English football community, from clubs, County FAs and leagues to the Football Supporters’ Association, Pledgeball effectively mobilises fans and players to make pro-environmental choices resulting in a reduction in emissions on game day and beyond.

Finally, Nora Annesi will be tuning in from Pisa, where she currently works at the Institute of Management, at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. She works on sustainability management and sustainability reporting with a focus on the integration of 2030 Agenda in local and corporate strategies.

11.00 – 11.10: Welcome and introduction to the webinar series by the host, Ernest Kovacs, ACR+
11.10 – 11.20: Current trends and tendencies in communicating sustainability; Sudhanshu Verma, REVOLVE Media
11.20 – 11.40: Sustainability reporting and communicating sustainability: the theory and focus; Nora Annesi, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
11.40 – 11.55: How football clubs should report their carbon footprint; Thom Rawson, Sustainable Football and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ “One Pack, One Planet”
12.00 – 12.15: Supporters contributing to the efforts of their clubs ; Katie Cross, Pledgeball
12.20 – 12.35: Reflection on Wolverhampton Wanderer’s sustainability programme; Thom Rawson, Sustainable Football and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ “One Pack, One Planet”
12.35 – 12.50: Discussion

Moderated by:

FAW’s Circular City Committee holds inaugural meeting

The Football Association of Wales has held the first meeting of its new Circular City Committee at its Dragon Park site. It is made up of external experts from the public, private and third sector who will come together on a regular basis to support the association in achieving greater sustainability and circularity. 

Making up the panel, which is chaired by Sophie Howe, Wales’ first ever Future Generations Commissioner, are experts and practitioners with various backgrounds. On behalf of the FAW and the ACCESS project, Jason Webber and Helen Antoniazzi facilitated the meeting.

Sarah Dickins, a sustainability consultant and former BBC Economy correspondent and Mark Powney of Business News Wales will certainly bring an added value to the CCC’s activities from the economical and sustainability perspective.

Public authorities and agencies were represented by Jacob Ellis on behalf of the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner, Nirushan Sudarsan, representing Future Generations Leader Academy and Natalie Rees of Transport for Wales.

Furthermore, arts, culture and businesses found their seat on the Welsh CCC, too, namely Fiona Stewart of Greenman Festival, Eluned Haf of Wales Arts International and Chris Jones on behalf of the renowned Corgi Hosiery.

Finally, as one would expect, the world of football was present as well, as Chris Roberts of North Wales Dragons disability football, Carol Bell, INED Football Association of Wales and Kelly Davies, the Chair of Cymru Football Foundation joined the newly established team.

Sophie Howe, the advisory panel chair, said:

“This panel will play a really important role both in supporting the FAW and in holding it to account as it implements its sustainability strategy.  I was delighted that we were able to bring these partners, from such a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, together to make up the panel.  The inaugural meeting was an opportunity for us to come together to learn more about the FAW’s sustainability journey so far and their plans and challenges for the future. 

“Going forwards we will be working together with Helen and the team at the FAW, bringing our diverse expertise and guidance to support them in achieving greater sustainability and circularity.”

Helen Antoniazzi, who leads on sustainability at the FAW, said:

“We’re really excited that the advisory panel has been established as we know that it will support us to be innovative and agile as we deliver on our sustainability strategy.  Now that we have held the inaugural meeting we will be looking to harness the support of the panel to enable us to develop action plans around specific areas such as travel and transport, reducing the consumption of single use plastic, and engaging the wider football family in becoming more sustainable.

“The establishment of the Football Association of Wales’ sustainability advisory panel marks a significant step towards a greener, more sustainable future for Welsh football, demonstrating the power of collective expertise and commitment to drive sustainable practices in the sport.”

The four CCCs, not only in Wales, but also Ireland, Denmark and Porto represent efforts to create inclusive and participatory platforms that would see public and private stakeholders partake in sport organisations’ ambitions to improve their environmental performances. The ultimate objective is to put together all the skills, tools, capacities and resources various stakeholders have in local communities in the service for enhancing the application of circular economy and environmental management solutions.

The ACCESS project announces its comprehensive training series for the coming autumn and winter!

In terms of the project workplan and its current phase, the time has come for extensive training and capacity building and knowledge transfer among the participating sport organisations in order for them to achieve their objectives in terms of improving their environmental performance. The best thing about this series – it is open for all the interested parties to attend!

This training series comes after a phase which saw extensive and comprehensive screening of the participating sport organisations through interviews, study visits and KPI analysis. The project’s technical partners, ACR+ and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies who conducted these activities in Ireland, Denmark, Portugal and Wales have now put together a training series which answers the hotspots and needs of the participating sport organisations to improve their environmental performances. Five training modules were identified, each covering a set of operations and activities which were identified as potential fields for improved environmental management.

The trainings will take place once a month, each 15th of a month – 15 November, 15 December, 15 January, 15 February and 15 March – each of them starting at 11h (Central European Time). Guest speakers will include experts from both the world of sports, environmental management and circular economy, with appearances of experts in specific fields such as communications, mobility, procurement, nature conservation and more. The training sessions are imagined to be a perfect balance of speakers with different backgrounds – academics and practitioners, in order to cater for and meet the expectations of the project’s diverse audience. A number of speakers representing various sport organisations will share their examples of good practices, too.

The full agenda with speakers’ names will be published for each module around the 1st of each month and shared with the reminder.

The registered participants will receive a reminder around the 1st of each month. Therefore, interested parties are encouraged to register for all the modules, simply not to miss the reminders. In any case, each module will be recorded and available for replay.

Please find the description of each module below:

Sustainability reporting: advantages, trends and finding your audience

15 November 2023, 11h (CET)

Understanding your own impact and identifying potentials

15 December 2023, 11h (CET)

Green procurement: securing environmentally friendly goods and services

15 January 2024, 11h (CET)

Mobility, infrastructure, food and beverage – everything that could make an event more sustainable

15 February 2024, 11h (CET)

Natural environment, ecosystems and biodiversity

15 March 2024, 11h (CET)

ACCESS back from the 2023 edition of the European Sport Platform

One of the biggest gathering of sport organisations in Europe took place in Lisbon last week, under the patronage of European Sports NGO (ENGSO) bringing together more than 200 participants representing National Olympic Sport Committees, National Sport Confederations and numerous NGOs. And the ACCESS project was present there, too.

ENGSO acts as the umbrella organisation of National Olympic Committees and National Sports Confederations responsible for grassroots sport across 33 European countries. Its annual conference, this time hosted by the Sport Confederation of Portugal between 12 and 14 October, had “Sport for stronger communities” as the focus and overarching theme. It was be an opportunity to shape the future of the European grassroots sport while discussing and exchanging experiences on equipping organisations and clubs to become champions of sustainability, good governance, integrity, equality and values in sport.

The session which was focusing on the sustainability dimension in sport was opened by Bianca Quardokus of the German National Olympic Committee and followed by a workshop by Karin Book, PhD, associate professor at Malmö University and Jeffrey Levine, PhD, an assistant clinical professor of Sport Business at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. This workshop explored the current state of art when it comes to the environmental sustainability in sports, including capacities, approaches, skills and challenges. It showed that sport organisations are aware of the need to step up in improving the environmental performance of sports, yet a set of barriers exist to make it wholesome and making it count and contribute to a greater cause within the European context.

The ACCESS project was represented by Ernest Kovacs on behalf of ACR+, as the ACCESS project’s coordinator. The objectives of the participation were two-fold – to get more insight in the trending occurrences in sports when it comes to environmental sustainability and increase the outreach of the ACCESS project itself. The large number of participants allowed Ernest to promote the upcoming training series (more on the training series to come in the coming days), get more participants to partake in the ongoing survey for public authorities and meet representatives from the participating countries (Ireland, Denmark, Portugal and the UK).

Another European project ACR+ is taking part in had its appearance, too. Green Sports Hub used this Conference to showcase its final outputs and the follow up which would see a European platform for sport organisations to come together and learn from each other, as well as seek technical support from a diverse group of experts, practitioners and consultants. Ernest was there, too, to support a workshop on environmental sustainability in sports.

Overall, the event was a great opportunity to talk to academics, researchers, sport organisations and get a good insight into the trends, tendencies, challenges and initiatives across Europe when it comes to environmental sustainability of sports. It showed that cross-sectoral cooperation, which would see the involvement of academia, public authorities and practitioners could allow the sport organisations to understand the impact of their efforts and justify their initiatives among many other added values this approach could bring. To conclude the participation and the observations, Ernest said:

“An event like this is an absolute eye opener for practitioners and experts in the field of circular economy and sustainable development. I was happy to meet sport organisations from the ACCESS partner countries and introduce them to the project and I hope to see them at the upcoming events within the project’s framework. Speaking of the overall impressions – while us, practitioners across Europe, have the expertise, solutions and know-how when it comes to applying circular economy solutions in sports, we can see that sport organisations have the motivation, human and financial resources, as well as the immense outreach including children, families, supporters. Imagine what impact could we create in Europe together if we put all these assets together!

FC Porto take the the project partners on a study tour of their local public and private stakeholders

Having all the ACCESS project partners in Porto for the 3rd project meeting was a great opportunity for FC Porto to take them on a study tour along with numerous participants representing FC Porto’s main partners.

The study tour perfectly reflected the project’s current phase and the establishment of four Circular City Committees in Dublin, Wales, Denmark and Porto. These Committees will contribute to the achievement of the project’s main objective – enhanced cooperation between sport organisations and local and regional authorities and private stakeholders for improving the environmental management and environmental performances in sports.

FC Porto has already advanced in this field by becoming one of the 216 signatories of Porto’s Climate Pact. The Porto Climate Pact is an initiative of the Porto City Council that seeks to unite the efforts of the many players in the city around a great common goal: achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The initiative has mobilised participants from various backgrounds and areas as diverse as academia, telecommunications, construction, industry, NGOs, sports, justice, education, science, health, culture, covering institutions and business organisations in the city of Porto and the region.

The morning started at the Dragao stadium where Ernest Kovacs presented the project on behalf of the project coordinator ACR+ to the 30 participants who gathered for the tour. The participants came on behalf of local and regional authorities, sponsors, Portuguese sport associations, including the Portuguese Football Association, the Portuguese Football League and more. After a tour of the stadium, the participants set off to discover FC Porto’s main partners.

The Municipalities Association for Sustainable Waste Management of Greater Porto – LIPOR, which manages, recovers, and treats the municipal waste produced in eight municipalities of the Greater Porto Area was the first stop. Being an indispensable partner of FC Porto, LIPOR’s president and ACR+’s vice-president Fernando Leite welcomed the group and explained the different processes and treatment options LIPOR uses in order to secure sound and responsible waste management in the region. A walking tour of the facilities and neighbouring reclaimed area from an old closed landfill followed.

Cooperation with the academic and research institutions plays an important role in FC Porto’s decision making processes, as they want to ensure that processes and operations are in line with the latest trends and tendencies not only in terms of environmental management, but also consumption patterns, behaviour analysis and social acceptance. Ricardo Cayolla, who participated in the study tour, welcomed the group to his Universidade Portucalense to explain what the underlying research topics contribute to FC Porto’s exemplary image in the local community and beyond. While many study papers display FC Porto staff as contributors and data collectors, they mainly cover the topics of brand identity, awareness and behaviour analysis and similar topics.

The tour continued that afternoon with the reception of the group by no one else than Filipe Araújo, Porto’s vice-mayor in charge of the environment and climate transition department and the department of innovation and digital transition. He welcomed the group at the premises of Porto Waters and Energy authority highlighting once again the importance of the Porto Climate Pact which wants to see Porto becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The discussion brought forward another local project and initiative revolving around renewable energy in form of “Renewable Energy Communities”. In practice, AdEPorto (the Porto Energy Agency) has been developing the concept and applicability of Renewable Energy Communities on its territory, following the decree of early 2022 which approved the legal framework applicable to self-consumption of renewable energy and energy communities.

The greatest potential for the development of RECs in municipalities is in social housing under their management, associating decentralized production of renewable energy with the mitigation of energy poverty, through access to cheaper energy and increased energy literacy, thus increasing the social cohesion of their territories and enhancing the inclusive role of RECs as active agents in energy transition. FC Porto is developing its own imitative.

After a short walk in the park dedicated to Porto’s water supply heritage, instead of calling it a day, the group continued to the Yeatman, a major hotel set amidst the Port wine lodges with exceptional environmental performance for a late afternoon cocktail overseeing the Douro river.

“This study tour came at a perfect moment and allowed other project partners to get inspired for the creation of their own Circular City Committees by seeing how these cross-sectoral cooperation could look in practice. Porto has been a great example of such an approach and I am happy and grateful the club treated us with this insightful learning experience. There is nothing much left for me to say but thank you.”

Ernest Kovacs, on behalf of ACR+, the project coordinator

See Porto Canal’s video and review of the day in our multimedia section.

The project’s next meeting will take place in Dublin in March 2024 and will be the occasion for the project consortium to get updated on the development of the Committees and action plans in the four project countries.

Gender mainstreaming training for a more inclusive and participatory approach to environmental management in sports

As a part of ACCESS project’s capacity building activities which accompany the development and implementation of the four sport organisations’ action plans, the second training module held in Porto alongside other meetings saw the project partners discussing gender mainstreaming in sports under the facilitation by Susan Buckingham, a researcher in gender and environmental justice.

This training module took place seven months after the first training in Pisa, held back in February 2023, which covered the theory behind Communities of Practice with the objective to help sport organisations understand the advantages of cross-sectoral cooperation and participatory decision making. As the sport organisations are now advancing with the definition of their action plans, this timely reflection on gender equality and the role of gender balance had the objective to raise awareness, motivate and inspire them to mainstream gender throughout the process – from conceptualising, decision making to implementation.

The training was led by Susan Buckingham, with her forty years experience of academic research, teaching and management, and over twenty years experience of volunteering in women’s and environmental organisations. She now work independently on projects which will advance environmental and gender justice.

The training, which was a combination of lectures and discussions, as well as recalling various experiences and case studies, looked at topics such as gender balanced decision making, eco-masculinity and various consumption patterns trending in sports. The discussion started with Susan presenting some underlying international declarations and strategies which established the principle of “gender mainstreaming” as well as some of the findings she made through previous project and researches. They highlight better and more responsible management of action plans, as well as budgets when women partake or take the lead in such processes.

She wrote in one of her publications: “From previous projects, we have learned lessons about gender mainstreaming in an area of environmental management on two levels. At a practical level, by embedding gender at every stage of the process, and by the gender auditor being centrally involved in the management and direction of the project, a number of achievements towards considering gender impact and achieving gender balance have been made.

The group discussed some specific areas such as communication, staffing, equipment and consultation and public participation and how the absence of gender mainstreaming could affect the outcomes – from ensuring that messages do not reinforce stereotypes, taking every opportunity to enable women to have an equal opportunity to be promoted as managers and decision makers, ensuring that the conditions (e.g. times, places) and publicity encourage women and men from a range of situations to take part, to ensuring that equipment is manageable by women and men equally.

The discussion ended with looking at various consumption and behaviour patterns, too, where the participants discussed textile and merchandise consumption and their impact on gender, reusable cups, as well as the social acceptance by genders.

The training material will be made available once all the modules will have taken place in spring 2024.

Project meeting in Porto ends with encouraging and promising plans for the autumn and winter ahead

As the ACCESS project advances and starts producing concrete and applicable plans for environmental management improvements in the participating sport organisations, the consortium came together in Porto to discuss challenges, opportunities and exchange different approaches these plans would require.

The meeting hosted by FC Porto at their Dragao stadium came after a summer which was marked by summarising the initial phase of the project which revolved around screenings, assessments and observations and which were turned into respective publications, now to be published soon by the project’s technical partners and put on the project audience’s disposal.

In the meantime, the four sport organisations – the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Danish and the Welsh Football Associations, as well as FC Porto started establishing each their own Circular City Committees – a body that would follow up the key conclusions, suggestions and pilot actions of the previous phase. The role of these Committees will simply be to interpret the findings and translate them into tangible and enabling actions for elevated environmental management by deploying the know-how, capacities and skills put together. The overview of the provisional compositions of the four Committees showed that the sport organisations wants to get closer and collaborate more with their key public authorities and agencies, as well as with selected private stakeholders involved in certain operations and processes. Very encouraging is that this motivation and objective is mutual as those stakeholders are indeed interested in such collaborations.

Based on each sport organisation’s aspirations and ongoing activities, the identified authorities which were invited to join the respective Committees, included city councils, waste, energy or transport authorities, various bodies responsible for climate resilience and climate actions, as well as academic institutions. The area of activity and expertise these stakeholders have reflects the plans the four sport oranisations plan to tackle. More about each Committee in detail in separate coverage soon.

The meeting ended with finetuning the upcoming online training series, which will be open for external audience and which will take place from October to February. Therefore, stay tuned, subscribe to our mailing list and social media in order to know more and avoid missing the registration!

FC Porto to welcome the ACCESS project partners for a meeting and to take them on a study tour of their major local private and public partnerships

As the project recently entered its second year, the meeting in Porto, kindly hosted by FC Porto on 19 and 20 September will serve as a good opportunity to look back at the recent outputs and look ahead at the busy autumn and winter months in the four participating sport organisations.

Dragao stadium, overlooking the city of Porto, will see the six project partners come together again since they last met in Pisa, seven months ago. The meeting comes not much after some of the key deliverables were produced which round up the first year of the project and the extensive assessments and identifications of potentials for improved environmental management. Worry not, they will soon be made available to the wider public, ready to inspire and motivate other sport organisations to look at their own environmental performances and potential improvements.

The meeting itself comes amidst the creation and the progress of four Circular City Committees (CCC) in Ireland, Porto, Wales and Denmark coordinated by the four participating sport organisations. These CCCs represent efforts to create inclusive and participatory platforms that would see public and private stakeholders partake in sport organisations’ ambitions to improve their environmental performances. The ultimate objective is to put together all the skills, tools, capacities and resources various stakeholders have in local communities in the service for enhancing the application of circular economy and environmental management solutions.

Apart from the updates and latest news, the meeting will also result in a launch of a webinar series, open to all interested parties, to happen from October to December this year.

The highlight of the first day will be a training module, developed by Susan Buckingham, an expert who combines environmental issues and gender mainstreaming. This training will want to provoke the project partners and make them think from the gender perspective when defining strategies, objectives and implementing solutions.

FC Porto has already advanced in the field of local cooperation and will use the second day of the meeting to showcase its partnerships. The project partners will embark on a study trip visiting which would include visits of some of the club’s partners in the field of environmental management, namely LIPOR, serving as the waste management company for the greater Porto region, Universidade Portucalense, an established research institute in the field of interaction between football, its fans and environmental aspects, finishing with the Porto City Council, and its Water and Energy campus.

ACCESS appeared at the Portuguese Sport Confederation’s workshop “Sport and Environment – a New Challenge”

Upon the Federation’s invitation, Ernest Kovacs, on behalf of the project travelled to Lisbon, Portugal to present and enlarge the ACCESS project’s network.

Organised within another Erasmus+ Sport project’s framework – Green Sports Hub, this one-day event saw an audience of more than 40 people representing professional and grassroot sports as well as a significant number of professors and other participants from the academia.

The participants heard from Carlos Paula Cardoso, the Portuguese Sport Confederation’s president, opening the event with his reflections on the opportunities and challenges for improved environmental management in sports, followed by speakers on behalf of the University of Lisbon, as well as speakers from the world of sports, namely athletics, with their good practices.

As the Green Sports Hub project was entering its last coupe of months before it ended in December, with big aspirations and ambitions to become an independent and self-sustaining platform, a series of workshops and dissemination events were taking place, hosted by the project’s partners. The ultimate goal of the Hub is to become a place which would serve as a place where practitioners, sport organisations academia and other stakeholders could come to work together on improving the environmental management in sports.

What concerns ACCESS, this event was a good opportunity to highlight the objectives and the principles, the project was built upon. The fact that the project has FC Porto as a project partner will certainly draw some attention among the Portuguese audience and increase the potential for a successful community outreach and replication of the ACCESS results in Portugal.

The study visit to Dublin and the GAA results in a comprehensive overview of exemplary principles at Croke Park

As the second leg of ACR+’s tour of Wales and Ireland, Ernest Kovacs visited the GAA and its headquarters, including its largest stadium – Croke Park. The impressions – more than impressive!

This study visit, just like any other served as a follow up of the previously conducted interviews with staff members responsible for various operations, procedures and processes in and around Croke Park. The three day long visit started with a briefing and meeting of all the staff, subcontractors and stakeholders which were involved in organising the division 4 and 3 men’s final Gaelic football matches. This meeting involved not only the stadium and GAA staff but also all the subcontractors – food and beverage, security, as well as the Garda (Police), fire brigade and many other. It was a great opportunity to present the project to an extremely wide and mixed audience. The rest of the day was reserved for a comprehensive and all-round visit of the stadium and other facilities highlighting all the relevant processes – waste management, biodiversity, infrastructure management, food and beverage serving.

The following day was reserved for an ACCESS-specific meeting of the initial focus group – what would eventually become the local Circular City Committee. Apart from Míde Ní Shúilleabháin and Jimmy D’Arcy who called for this meeting on behalf of the GAA, the meeting also see the Croke Park staff, namely Colin O’Brien, Operations Executive, Ger Hanratty, Facilities & Operations Executive, Brian Conlon, Head of Stadium Operations & Projects and Tony McGuinness, Head of Stadium Operations & Events at Croke Park.

While Ernest Kovacs of ACR+ was there to present the project and especially the upcoming phase to these indirectly involved parties, Míde and Jimmy focused on what the GAA would need and expect from Croke Park in terms of their engagement and what this phase would look like in the local context.

Ernest Kovacs shared his first impressions upon his return from Dublin: “After years of working in the field of improving the environmental management in sports, I must admit that Croke Park and the principles the GAA is applying locally and nationally could certainly be considered as a benchmark for what concerns this trend and efforts. Surely, certain aspects and initiatives could be further developed and reinforced and I am happy to be able to work with such a motivated group and have them as a part of the ACCESS project”.

All findings, conclusions and other observation will be published in a relevant report in August 2023. So, do stay tuned and subscribes to updates!

A public event in Porto for the wider local and regional audience to explore cooperation between sports and cities

As the project advances and enters its new phase, the project partners will meet physically for the third time, this time in Porto in September – a great occasion to open up the project to the project’s external audience again.

While the ACCESS project partners would meet on 19 September to discuss the project’s progress by looking back on the first year of the project and discussing what the second one would look like, 20 September would serve as a perfect opportunity for the external audience to get engaged and interact with the project, its findings and observations, and its partners, potentially resulting in new synergies and cooperation.

The public event was announced to have a format and an objective that would perfectly suit the phase the project’s sport organisations have recently entered – the creation of local and regional Circular City Committees. FC Porto would showcase what their cooperation and aligning with its local and regional authorities and agencies looks like – all in order to achieve a valuable added value: contributing to the city’s efforts in implementing circular economy and sound environmental management principles in various spheres of life, including sports. The event would see a study tour visiting relevant authorities and other stakeholders which are shaping the city of Porto’s environmental strategies, plans and targets, as well as those that contribute to innovation and advanced practices.

FC Porto is proud to be able to take the interested parties to some of its key partners, each explaining the way they cooperate and collaborate with the club. The visits would include some of the key stakeholders, obviously taking off from the club’s Dragao stadium. The ultimate objective of the study tour is to inspire other partnering sport organisations to seek and officialise cooperation with their own stakeholders and give some basic ideas for such potential links.

While the details of the study tour are yet to be unveiled, interested parties are already invited to express their interest in joining the tour by contacting the project’s coordinator, Ernest Kovacs on behalf of ACR+ at

A notable appearance at EU Green Week as ACCESS gets featured at ACR+ official partner event

Supported by Zero Waste Scotland and titled “Greening sports for achieving participative and contributory circular communities: skills and know-how for getting there”, ACR+ organised an official EU Green Week Partner Event which allowed ACCESS to showcase its objectives, approaches and expected results.

The event wanted to reflect on this year’s key focus of the Week: skills for sustainable, resilient and socially fair communities. Considering the ACCESS project’s objectives and approaches and methodologies used for achieving them, the project indeed had what it took to be featured at such an event. The four hours long conference gathered a diverse audience of 50 participants, including academia, media, public authorities, sport organisations, EU officials and NGOs which allowed interactive discussions, looking at the challenges and solutions from various perspectives.

During his opening speech, Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland’s founding CEO and president of ACR+, reflected on the General Assembly ACR+ had the previous week and said: “Cooperation and network approach has been the heart of ACR+’s principles since it was founded nearly 30 years ago. Our General Assembly in Dublin, just a week ago, showed how important citizen engagement and the responsibility of various stakeholders are to contribute to circular cities. How can this happen and how is this reflected in our daily lives is what we need to further explore”.

Peter Fischer of the European Commission’s DG Education and Culture and policy officer for the green sport portfolio followed up on the previous speech of Iain Gulland explaining and reassuring the audience that the work of the EU’s Expert Group on Green Sport was advancing and, in fact, that the long awaited “Recommendations for a common framework for sustainable sport” should be published towards the end of summer 2023. These recommendations would help the Member States in setting up and implementing appropriate frameworks for tackling some of the key challenges covered by the document, such as sustainable infrastructure, innovative cross-sectoral solutions, and further capacity building and education, all accompanied by examples of good practices.

Adeline Plé of the Surfrider Foundation Europe closed the keynote speeches with her intervention “In what ways do cities have the power to accompany the transition of the sport sector?”.

Beside other European projects and initiatives, the ACCCESS project contributed with the intervention of Ernest Kovacs of ACR+, who highlighted the need for enhanced cooperation between sport organisations and public authorities in order to amplify the implementation of relevant local and regional strategies and policies within sports. He highlighted and stressed out operations in sports as an untapped potential and opportunity for both public authorities and sport organisations to achieve a win-win situation – sport organisation benefitting from support, capacity building and guidance and public authorities being able to enhance the reinforcement of their policies and strategies in this field. Without platforms and networks such as the Communities of Practice, the project wants to promote, it would be difficult to reach a critical mass, he concluded.

The panel discussion composed of diverse panellists allowed the entire room to participate in an inspiring discussion which saw skills, tools, practices, challenges and solutions being discussed, as well as potentials for increased cooperation, peer to peer support and learning and the role of formal education and relevant institutions in providing appropriate skills. The panel included Raphaelle Moeremans of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, Katrina Reuter of Confédération Européenne de Volleyball, Jonas Orset, Founder of Green Cycling Nordic Norway, Zero Waste Scotland’s Warren McIntyre, a Bulgarian activist and managing director of BG Be Active – Laska Nenova and Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, the Dean of Solvay Business School.

Finally, Eva Rebmann, the acting Deputy Director at the European Olympic Committee EU Office, looked back at the event with the following words as her final key remark: “Sports must change and not only for image or marketing reasons – our societies suffer from climate change and sports have the power to change mindsets and current processes. We see that tools, platforms, learning modules, communication materials, support and much more is available and await out there, we all as a community need to make the best out of them”.

The GAA meets the three Irish waste regions to prepare the country-wide outreach and replication of ACCESS results

During the week of 29 May, Dublin saw many relevant events taking place at various locations, including the Circular Economy Hotspot Conference at Croke Park, ACR+’s General Assembly at Trinity College and the European Week for Waste Reduction Awards – a perfect opportunity for a meeting in the margins.

Being ACR+ members, the three Irish regions – the Connacht – Ulster, East Midlands and Southern Waste Regions, found themselves in Dublin to attend the network’s General Assembly, as well as the Circular Economy Hotspot Conference the day before at Croke Park. It didn’t take long before a side meeting was called to allow ACR+ to present the ACCESS project and the GAA to present their ongoing activities, and more importantly – what is yet to come.

Attended by Ernest Kovacs on behalf of ACR+, the GAA’s Jimmy D’Arcy and Míde Ní Shúilleabháin, and Sinead Ni Mhainnin, Joanne Rourke and Philippa King representing respectively the Connacht-Ulster, East Midlands and Southern Waste regions, the meeting had the objective to lay the basis for the outreach and community engagement activities which are set to start early next year. This phase will see the GAA and the other three participating sport organisations (FC Porto, the Welsh and the Danish FA) becoming the reference points in their countries for improved environmental management and the application of circular economy solutions in sports and reaching out to sport organisations in rural and/or remote areas and enable them to access European good practices and the knowledge base developed by the project.

As Ernest and Jimmy explained, the project is currently in the phase where the participating sport organisations are setting up relevant partnerships with their imminent stakeholders. Jimmy further said that while the local activities and the set up of the local Circular City Committee are currently ongoing in Dublin, this meeting came at a perfect time for starting to imagine and understand what next year and the nation-wide outreach campaign would look like, as that particular phase would need the involvement of public authorities and agencies in order to replicate the methodology and the lessons learnt from Dublin. Míde highlighted the fact that the GAA’s Green Club has already achieved a significant outreach, as many GAA clubs from all over the island are adhering to the Green Club – something certainly promising for the ACCESS project’s objectives. The three waste regions confirmed that they were aware of the GAA’s initiatives and that they would be willing to participate and furthermore help the GAA and the project in mapping relevant stakeholders.

Site visits continue as Sant’Anna School visits the Danish FA

The spring of 2023 saw many site visits within the ACCESS project’s framework, with the last one being Sant’Anna School’s trip to Denmark, not only to visit the stadium and other facilities but also to test the project’s new Key Performance Indicator dashboard.

As part of the ongoing activities linked to screening and mapping hotspots and opportunities for improvement, the Danish FA (DBU) invited Tiberio Daddi and Daniele Casiddu from the Sant’ Anna University of Management in Pisa to Greater Copenhagen to discuss how football clubs and associations can take part in making cities more circular. The one-day program started at DBUs headquarters in Brøndby and ended with an on-site visit of the national stadium of Denmark and home ground to F.C. Copenhagen with the opportunity to talk about environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

An important feature of this particular study visit was also to test in practice the recently developed Key Performance Indicator, developed by the School. This particular tool will contribute with valuable qualitative and quantitative data which will enrich other observations and findings from previously conducted interviews. All this intelligence would be summarised in a respecti9ve publication to be published in August 2023.

Lasse Månsson, the DBU’s analyst, said about the recent visit: “The exchange of information, knowledge and best practice is a vital part of the joint EU-research funded project ACCESS. This structure with regular interface between academia and representatives from the Danish football community stimulates the bridge build between national football facilities and the city.

As reported by the DBU, the Association joined the project to learn and give their insights into sustainability from the perspective of a sports organisation, but also to capitalise on the networking and findings. Among other things, the relevant fields of sustainability for DBU, other national associations and clubs prior and on game day include waste management, food & beverage, accommodation, and mobility. The people responsible for these areas within DBU had previously been interviewed to give their in-depth view on these operations to the project, and the reason for the visit to Denmark was to further qualify the findings from the interviews and integrate them into the project.

Based on the interviews, a critical factor in all operations is the monitoring and collection of data.  In specific areas DBU is already collecting and getting valuable insights from data, and this aspect must be prioritized across all areas and operations to properly identify and implement green initiatives and criteria. Furthermore, there is a lot of potential for DBU to share information on green accommodation and sustainable transportation.

The findings of the project will be used to develop and better align environmental strategies and practices of sports clubs and associations and the cities or regions they operate in. Clubs often have a close relationship with their municipalities and other city actors in their day-to-day operations, and the visit was also an opportunity to visit F.C. Copenhagen and have a chat with the Director of Operations, Brian Månsson, about their different initiatives within sustainability and partnerships with local actors.

The Circular Economy Hotspot to see ACCESS showcasing its approach to circular cities

The ACCESS project will be travelling to Dublin once again, but this time to showcase its ongoing activities and objectives at the largest circular economy event in Europe.

Being the largest of its kind, the Circular Economy Hotspot is an opportunity to learn from, network with, and be inspired by the very best. Through conference talks, tours, workshops and topic deep-dives, attendees will learn about the practical steps and resources to take home and implement.

Funny enough, the City Conference, which will mark the second day of this 4-days long festival of circular economy solutions in cities will take place nowhere else than at Croke Park, the home of the GAA, one of the ACCESS project’s partners! The project will appear as a part of the exhibition and networking session which will see ACR+, the project coordinator, welcoming various public authorities and circular economy stakeholders and solution providers to its stand and exhibition area.

On behalf of ACR+, Ernest Kovacs said “Opportunities to showcase our activities and have a public appearance like this are very valuable for a project like ACCESS. I consider this project innovative and unconventional given its objectives and approach to reaching them. The fact that we want to present sport organisations’ efforts to become more sustainable and contribute to the circular economy in cities might certainly attract some attention and expand our audience and potential collaborators, I reckon”.

This particular day and the presence of ACCESS at Croke Park will also allow the GAA to catch up with ACR+, but also a number of other public authorities in Ireland in order to strengthen their local and national partnerships for better implementation of the project activities. A meeting, planned to take place, would see the Dublin City Council, East Midlands Waste Region, Ulster – Connacht Waste Region and the Southern Waste Region participating.

ACCESS project to be featured at EU Green Week’s partner event

The ACCESS project is very proud and happy to announce its participation at the upcoming EU Green Week as a contributor to a conference titled “Greening sports for achieving participative and contributory circular communities: skills and know-how for getting there”.

This year’s EU Green Week is aligning with the European Year of Skills and therefore revolves around topics of skills for sustainable, resilient and socially fair communities. Considering that the ACCESS project is indeed looking at improving sport organisations skills and capacities to improve their environmental performances in operations and governance though enhancing the cooperation with their local and regional authorities as well as building internal structures for this purpose, the Green Week’s partner event will certainly be a good opportunity to showcase the project’s approach to this this challenge.

The event will be organised within the framework of another Erasmus+ funded project – Green Sports Hub, which is using the Green Week as an opportunity to present its outputs and tools that were developed throughout its duration. It will be hosted by ACR+ and Zero Waste Scotland at Scotland House Europe in Brussels.

Specifically, the ACCESS project will present its framework for improving environmental management in sports, combining trainings, capacity building provided by the project’s technical partners and Community of Practice as an approach to enhance cross-sectoral cooperation and the envisaged outcomes in the four pilot sport organisations.

To represent the ACCESS project, ACR+’s Ernest Kovacs said:“Projects and initiatives show that sports and the outreach they have – tens of thousands of people in each European city, are a largely untapped source of contribution to a more resilient and environmentally responsible society.”

As the event’s page says, sports can easily be considered as one of the most popular leisure activities for a great share of Europe’s population – either through practicing them or enjoying them as a supporter, they have an intangible potential for provoking a positive mindset change in wider communities towards contribution to environmentally friendly practices and building resilience therein, in general. While cities and regions have the ultimate responsibility to steer our lifestyles and habits towards securing well-being for all of us through relevant policies and strategies, their execution, deployment, and attainment considerably depends on the way communities adopt them and contribute towards achieving them. What skills and tools are needed to turn things around and consider sports as a driver for major attitude change? How to make sports aware of this opportunity? Why should sport entities and local and regional authorities working together rather than be in a love and hate relationship? This is what this Green Week side event wants to give answers to.

The event will welcome and host a variety of relevant actors and stakeholders along the sport value chain, divided in different sessions – from key note speeches, presentations of latest achievements and solutions, interactive panel discussion to closing remarks which would show the way forward for enhanced cooperation and joint efforts in the field.

Call for public authorities and sport supporters: Help the ACCESS project by taking a survey!

While the initial phase of the ACCESS project is coming to its end which would see comprehensive publications on the latest trends and occurrences in sports when it comes to environmental management, we need your input to cross-check and compare our findings and observations.

As the project has the objective to enhance the collaboration between sport organisations and their local and regional authorities in order to reach a scenario where both parties would benefit from sound environmental management in sports, it’s time to hear the voice of public authorities. During the last 4 months, the participating sport organisations – the Danish FA, the Irish GAA, FC Porto and the Welsh FA have undergone a thorough screening of their practices in terms of both operations and governance. Much of this phase was looking at their collaboration with their relevant public authorities. In order to compare, cross-check and eventually validate the observations, the ACCESS project is currently conducting a survey targeting public authorities (local and regional authorities as well as various agencies on local, regional or national levels). The objective is to hear their side of the story and how they rate and describe this partnership. The survey wants to look at various activities, expectations, needs and opinions of public authorities when it comes to the enforcement of their strategies, targets and plans in sports.

The survey below is targeting public authorities, so please click below and take the survey if you are one of them:

One of the biggest environmental impact sport organisations could have are certainly those revolving around their events. Many sport organisations organise events that attract tens of thousands of supporters, sometimes from as far as thousands of kilometres away – especially in case of national or European championships, away games, hosting a final match of a competition and much more. The environmental impact is reflected through several aspects – mobility, food and beverage consumption and the way they are served, merchandise, waste generation and other potential nuisances for the local communities. One of the aspects not receiving enough attention is accommodation. This is the aspect the ACCESS project wants to pay a special attention to. Therefore, a special survey was created to collect opinions, information on habits and information about tendencies in this field. Often overlooked, the selection of accommodation could play an important role in the overall environmental performance of a sport event. Many short- and long-term accommodation options are trying to join the transition towards more environmental friendly practices and sustainable travel in general. This particular survey is trying to assess exactly these efforts and whether they are paying off when supporters are choosing their accommodation option.

If you are an occasional or a frequent supporter travelling to matches, please take the following survey:

Both surveys are anonymous and the ACCESS project is appreciating your participation in them.

Three days in Cardiff, three different venues and three points

As previously announced, the project’s technical partners are currently visiting the participating sport organisations and ACR+’s Project Manager, Ernest Kovacs, just got back from his first site visit within the ACCESS project’s framework – the first destination was Cardiff, where he met the Welsh FA’s counterparts responsible for environmental management.

To conclude the initial phase of the project which revolved around screening and assessing existing operational and governance practices in the sport organisations participating in the ACCESS project, a set of site visits are taking place this early spring which had a twofold purpose – validating the observations and conclusions and discussing outlooks for the establishment of Circular City Committees – ACCESS’ flagship platform for improving environmental performances.

During three days, from 27 to 29 April, multiple site visits took place, all being key for the Welsh FA’s activities, events and operations. Welcomed by Jason Webber, the FA’s Senior Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Integrity Manager, the day started with a morning briefing and site visit of the Welsh national team’s home stadium – Cardiff City FC stadium. Joined by Christopher Martin, Stadium Logistics Officer, the site visit included several on site operations such as discussing the food and food waste management with the contractor, waste management and all the operations around it, as well as mobility. The presence of Rebecca Crockett, the FA’s Special Projects Manager allowed Ernest to follow up on the previously conducted interview with her. An important added value was the fact that the Welsh men’s national team was hosting the Latvian one that evening, which allowed the site visit to include further observations during the match itself.

The following day served as an opportunity for a focus group which saw Jason, Ernest and Helen Antoniazzi, recently hired as the Head of Public Affairs discussing the conclusions and summaries of the various interviews conducted earlier this year. As previously mentioned, this focus group did not only serve to validate those observations and summaries but also to discuss what the Welsh FA’s Circular City Committee would look like regards the objectives and expectations within the ACCESS’ framework. Or, more specifically – how could these observations and conclusions feed into the Committee’s future workplan. As Jason and Helen explained, the FA’s recently published Sustainability Plan would see the creation of two bodies, one responsible for the implementation of various actions aimed at achieving the Plan’s objectives and one for overseeing the process and provide validation and cross-check. These two bodies would indeed be important contributors to the wider Circular City Committee that would also include external stakeholders, relevant to targeted improvements. The day continued with a visit of the FA’s headquarters in Hensol and Dragon Park in the neighbouring city of Newport.

Concluding the visit, Ernest said: “This study visit certainly met my expectations, mainly because of the warm welcome and incredible hospitality shown by the FA. I could easily call this visit an intimate one, as the discussions were very open, addressing both strengths and weaknesses of the FA and its operations. Because, simply, without such discussions being open and sincere, the identification of opportunities and making the best of this project for the FA of Wales could easily end up being a much harder job than it should be. And, as the cherry on the cake, I am happy this visit ended with a victory over Latvia and three points for Wales.”

ACR+ embarks on a week long study trip visiting the Football Association of Wales and the Gaelic Athletic Association

As a part of ACCESS’ ongoing screening of and initial information gathering on current environmental management practices and principles, as well as circular economy models in the four participating sport organisations, ACR+ will travel to Cardiff and Dublin to validate and collect additional valuable intelligence for the project phases to come.

As one of the two technical partners on the project, ACR+ is in close contact with the FA of Wales and the Gaelic Athletic Association and having completed the interview phase with them, the time has come to share the observations so far within relevant focus groups and see what different processes look like in practice. The events that would take place that week, namely the European Cup qualifying match between Wales and Latvia in Cardiff and the GAA finals in Dublin a few days later will surely be a great added value to the visits. The study visits will be carried out by Ernest Kovacs, ACR+’s project manager specialised in applied circular economy solutions in cities and regions. He would be visiting the Welsh FA on 28 and 29 March before traveling onwards to Dublin for the remaining days of the week.

“I am looking very much forward to these study visits, as they should serve as a validation of our observations, conclusions and proposals, resulting from the previous phase and online interviews. A week long trip might sound exhausting, but the objectives set right and activities well defined by the project and in collaboration with the partners, will allow us all to focus on what is important and make the best use of the time available – all in order to meet those objectives. And well, the fact there would be some games to attend will surely help me unwind a bit. I just need to brush up my knowledge on Gaelic football and hurling.”, Ernest reflected on the upcoming travels..

The study visits will indeed have their own specific objectives as they should be followed by the creation of Circular City Committees (CCC) in participating cities or regions. Since the CCCs should be the platforms where each sport organisation, its local and regional authorities and other stakeholders will work together towards improving the environmental management in sports, these visits should result in a successful assessment of potentials and opportunities for improvements and relevant intervention.

When asked what the role of local and regional authorities would be in the project and what he expects from them, Ernest said: “As someone who works for ACR+, a network of local and regional authorities, I see the project contributing to their efforts in making them more resource efficient, being a home for resilient communities and after all, being examples of good practice in the European context through an approach rather unconventional – environmental improvements in sports. Having said that, this is why we also need them as contributors to and stakeholders in the project. They are the source of valuable information, skills, tools and other kind of support which sport organisations can largely benefit from. I am very curious to see who could we work with, the options are vast. When it comes to visiting Dublin in particular, the special motivation lies in the fact that Dublin and specifically East Midlands Waste Region are a prominent member of ACR+. Nevertheless, having the other two waste regions – southern and Connacht Ulster as our members makes me hope the project would be able to reach out to those areas, too.”

GAA clubs sign up to fight climate change

Early March, GAA, Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Camogie club representatives from across the island of Ireland joined the GAA’s Green Club orientation events to commit to action in their clubs and communities to combat climate change and protect their natural environment.

The GAA Green Club Programme, which has been running since January 2021, provides practical support and guidance to GAA clubs in raising awareness and implementing environmentally sustainable actions in their clubs and communities.

During the programme’s pilot phase, 40 pioneering Green Clubs implemented a range of actions across the areas of Energy, Water, Water, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport to enhance the sustainability of their grounds and games, to engage their membership in sustainability action and to future-proof their grounds against the impacts and challenges of climate change.

Numerous clubs from all across the island have already undertaken green actions large and small, from gear swaps and banning single-use plastic bottles to community river-bank restoration projects, from pitch and clubhouse energy upgrades to tree-planting, and from creating biodiversity-rich walkways to running safe cycling programmes.

Padraig Fallon, Chair of the Green Club Committee and proud member of the Green Team in his own club, Clan na Gael in Louth, said “The success of the Green Club programme to date has been immensely heartening. In Clan na Gael, we have seen how our sustainable energy action plan, which included a full retrofit of our clubhouse and an upgrade of our pitch lighting to LED, has cut our carbon footprint massively and has resulted in savings that have allowed our club to operate comfortably even in the face of rising energy costs. The improvements to our pitch and clubhouse also mean that our club is busier and more full of life than ever.”

“There was huge interest from clubs around the country in joining the new phase of the programme. This is a very exciting and rewarding programme to be involved with and the GAA and our Green Club partners are looking forward to supporting clubs in a wide-range of practical, impactful and innovative projects that will contribute to making our clubs a vibrant and sustainable part of our communities for a long time to come.”

Over 200 clubs are signed up to the next phase of the Green Club Programme in an 18-month commitment that will see each club form a Green Team, develop a sustainability action plan and adopt a Green Club charter before becoming certified as an official GAA Green Club.

The new recruits to the Green Club Programme will benefit from the recently-published Green Club Toolkit – a set of simple, practical and relevant resources and case studies across the areas of Energy, Water, Water, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport developed in collaboration with expert organisations North and South and with funding from the Department of Environmental, Climate and Communication especially for the GAA’s volunteer-led context.

The Green Club Toolkit is an open access resource that is available on the Association’s website. The GAA Green Club Programme and Toolkit have been developed in partnership with the Climate Action Regional Offices (CARO) with the guidance and expert input of Sustainable NI, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Action Renewables, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPro), Uisce Éireann, NI Water, the Regional Waste Management Offices, Keep NI Beautiful, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, RSPB NI, the National Transport Authority (NTA), the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the NI Executive’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Source: GAA

Zero Waste Scotland gets in touch with ACCESS in order to exchange experiences on improving environmental management in football

While ACCESS is focusing its efforts to support sport organisations to improve their environmental performances in the four project countries, similar initiatives are happening elsewhere – an opportunity for mutual learning not to be missed.

Only eight months after it started, ACCESS is already positioning itself in the field of environmental management in sports as a project which could contribute to developing innovative methodologies and approaches to both systemic and systematic solutions for “greening” sports. The latest call between ACR+, as the project coordinator, and Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS), a Scottish agency leading Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change. On of their recent activities, launched and announced back in 2020 saw them teaming up with the Scottish Football Association to offer free environmental support to football clubs across the country. By receiving guidance to help identify ways of reducing energy, water and waste management costs, as well as increasing recycling, football clubs could benefit from a financial lifeline, whilst becoming more eco-friendly through the reduction of operational carbon emissions.

As ZWS’s Warren McIntyre and Nayantara Sudhakar explained to Ernest Kovacs of ACR+, the current support they are giving to the Scottish FA revolving around regular meetings which involve advising on a range of environmental initiatives with a focus on integrating more circular economy considerations into both the direct operations of the Scottish National Stadium and individual clubs. As Warren further added “A longer term more strategic aim of our engagement, however, is to develop a proposition to use the citizen reach of these clubs to educate fans on the climate impacts of consumption and circular economy opportunities”. On the ACCESS side, Ernest took the opportunity to present the ongoing screening phase at the Gaelic Athletic Association, FC Porto and the Danish and Welsh FA. He focused on the methodology being used and announced the upcoming spring activities.

The call further allowed the exchange of experiences and lessons learnt, mainly as consequences of different enabling and impeding factors and occurrences in sports that need to be taken into consideration when going into such endeavours.

For what concerns the Scottish FA, they certainly took advantage of the partnership with ZWS as they outlined their sustainability commitment as COP26 Climate Summit was taking place in Glasgow back in 2021. Titled “Environmental Sustainability in Scottish Football” the FA committed to even more stringent measures as part of their new strategy, “The Power of Scottish Football”, over the ongoing decade. You can consult the strategy here. Nonetheless, the FA’s commitment is also reflected in the ongoing European project “SDG Striker” which they are partnering in. This particular project seeks to increase the organisational capacity for Good Governance in grass roots sport organisations by assisting them to implement and communicate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to develop a joint understanding about best practices before, during and after being tested, and assess their potential for replication across national sports federations – and beyond national borders.

ACCESS project will certainly continue to build synergies and partnerships with other like-minded initiatives and projects in order to enrich its knowledge database and skills, and at the same time, to disseminate its own outputs and results.

Sant’Anna School travels to Porto in order to test the ACCESS Key Performance Indicator dashboard

As a part of this valuable tool’s development, FC Porto got the opportunity to be the first one to test it as they welcomed prof. Tiberio Daddi for a study visit.

As a part of the ongoing phase which revolves around screening current operational and governance practices in the four participating sport organisations – the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Welsh and the Danish FA and obviously FC Porto, the development of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard can be considered as a fundamental project activity currently being developed at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. The reason for being considered fundamental to the project lies in the fact that such a tool would allow both qualitative and quantitative assessment of current environmental performances in a rather short period of time. It perfectly complements the ongoing interviews and site visits as it would address performance indicators directly linked to and influenced by various practices and operations.

The visit itself served as a perfect occasion to test the initial version of the dashboard in practice and assess its functionalities and above all – the its user experience and user friendliness. The test gave empirical conclusions and findings on several features of the tool, primarily understanding whether the identified indicators are applicable to sport organisations and whether the user experience is positive enough for continuing the dashboard’s development according to the plan. In the meantime, parallel to the visit, ACR+ as the project’s second technical partner has been reviewing the tool from the technical point of view, namely whether the dashboard addresses the project’s key objectives and its compliance with the rest of the project’s work plan.

Without disclosing completely the tool just yet, it will certainly follow the methodology and the approach agreed for the interviews, traversing various aspects of environmental management: accommodation, food and beverage, mobility, purchasing, waste management and infrastructure maintenance. By using it on a regular basis, the user would be able to compare its baseline scenario indicators with the indicators of any eventual improvement actions it may implement.

Currently ongoing interviews to identify potentials for environmental management improvements in sports

As a part of the initial phase of the ACCESS project, a series of online interviews are currently being conducted with the most diverse staff members of the project’s sport organisations.

The responsible for these interviews are the project’s two technical partners who are screening and collecting valuable input for what is yet to come in the project. While Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies is interviewing FC Porto and the Danish Football Association from Pisa, Italy, ACR+ is doing the same with the Gaelic Athletic Association and Football Association of Wales from their Brussels office. On the other side of the table, or screens in this case, are staff members overseeing various operations and processes such as matchday management, infrastructure maintenance, procurement and purchasing, as well as waste, energy and water management among others. Translated into job positions, the interviewees include stadium managers, heads of facilities, CSR managers, operation executives, sustainability managers and more.

The diversity of profiles being interviewed reflects the focus areas previously identified for screening and assessment. Namely, they encompass activities and operations which define mobility, waste management, food and beverage supply and service, accommodation, purchasing and supply selection, as well as infrastructure improvements and maintenance. The overall objective of these interviews is to assess the current practices and understand their alignment with strategies and targets of respective local authorities and potentials for collaboration with these authorities.

The findings and observations these interviews would result in will serve as an input for the Circular City Committees, along with identified authorities and other stakeholders which would be invited to partake. Based on the “Communities of Practice” approach, the Circular City Committees will represent groups of experts, relevant staff members, local authorities and other stakeholders along various value chains with a simple objective – interpret the input coming from the interview phase, putting them into their own perspective, agreeing on potential improvements and putting all this in a comprehensive action plan to be implemented over the next two years.

The creating of four Circular City Committees, one per sport organisation is expected by the beginning of spring.

Academia and sports gather in Pisa to discuss environmental assessments of sport events

Organised under the umbrella of the ACCESS project and hosted by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies this workshop had to objective to expose currently available tools for environmental assessment to sport organisations and provoke discussions on and comparisons of their purposefulness, features, functionalities and deployment in general.

Whether talking about qualitative or quantitative assessments, such activities – in form of audits, site visits, interviews, surveys, focus groups and similar, can provide sport organisations with a considerable amount of intelligence and insight in their current environmental performances. Once presented as heat maps, radar charts or other ways of data visualisation, they become easier for interpretation and for drawing certain conclusions. These conclusions could lead to comprehensive and tailor-made actions and decisions targeting different fields of operations and governance. Surely, other factors and affinities, as well as available skills and capacities need to be taken into consideration when wanting to add reasonability and rationality to these decisions. These are the factors which would determine whether a sport organisation should go for the “low hanging fruits” approach or the one that would set new benchmarks for other sport organisations.

This very event allowed the most recent European projects to showcase their tools in front of a versatile audience. The workshop did not only include the sport organisations participating in the ACCESS project – the GAA, FC Porto and the Football Associations of Wales and Denmark but also Francesco Ferrara of the Italian Swimming Federation, Anna Merlini of the Italian Canoeing Federation, Filippo Ceragioli representing the Parley for the Oceans and the 2021-2024 International Olympic Committee Young Leader, Nicolò Di Tullio, among other PhD students.

The four projects involved in the workshop, all supported by various European Union’s programmes, were namely GOALS, revolving around governance-oriented actions levering on environment for sustainability and GAMES, looking at environmental audit assessments. Green Sports Hub, a project which is currently entering its last year with some interesting outputs and tools that are gaining attention from across the world of sports made an appearance too, with it’s self-assessment tool applicable to a wide range of sports.

The workshop itself included several roundtables and group discussions around the different tools. What was common to each group ajd its participants was the expression of their gratitude to technical experts and academia for developing such tools. However, at the same time, they highlighted the fact that conducting an assessment requires a careful choice of a tool. Anna Merlini, of the Italian Kayak Federation stressed the fact that conducting an assessment requires a careful choice of a tool. The underlying reasons for this are numerous, but the ones that were underlined revolved around the capacities of different sport organisations – in terms of data availability, knowledge on processes and procedures, human resources and more. These would be the circumstances which would considered when choosing between non-invasive and scenario-based tools, rather than a data collection based tool. As it was echoed at the magnificent “Aula Magna Storica” room, tools based on data and figures are certainly useful and as important; nevertheless, a sport organisation first needs to reach a level of environmental management which would allow them to conduct such an assessment. Once they are there, they can aim as high as obtaining an ISO certification or similar.

Another highlighted remark was about the diversity of sports and the need of having tools which allow less known and less popular sports to be able to assess their environmental performance, too. Putting this in a real context, a tool developed for stadium or indoor arena sports might not be the most applicable ones to sports taking place in the great outdoors, such as cycling, sailing, golf, Nordic skiing or similar.

To conclude, this event and many other of a similar kind, which bring together various sport organisations, was proven to be very beneficial for the advancement of proper, sound and responsible environmental management in sports – an objective the ACCESS project wants to achieve, too.

Project partners meet in Pisa for a meeting which promises an action-packed 2023

Is there a better month to start an annual planning than the month of January? In case of the ACCESS project and what is to come as soon as from February onwards, the gathering in Pisa hosted by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, was certainly timed ideally for laying down the basis for achieving not only the project’s objectives, but also meeting the project partners’ expectations this year.

The 23rd of January 2023, the day before the project’s 2nd Transnational Meeting – the formal title given to the physical meetings of the project partners, saw people involved in the ACCESS project arriving to Pisa from different parts of Europe. These included the Gaelic Athletic Association from Dublin, Danish Football Association from Copenhagen, the Welsh Football Association from Cardiff , FC Porto from Porto and the Brussels based project coordinator ACR+, all bringing the necessary inputs for a constructive and productive long day.

And a long day it was, indeed. It started with a Steering Committee meeting which had the objectives to look back at the previously agreed tasks and evaluate their progress, as well as set the ground for all the follow up tasks or new ones to start this spring. The project is reaching the end of its initial assessment phase which includes ACR+’s assessment of the GAA and the Welsh FA’s environmental practices in operations and governance through a series of online interviews. Sant’Anna School is doing the same for the Danish FA and Porto FC. Once the interviews are over, site visits will start taking place which would allow ACR+ and Sant’Anna School to verify, validate and witness these practices themselves. The observations and interview reports will provide valuable intelligence for the following phase which would see the introduction of local and regional authorities, as well as other stakeholders, and the formation of the four Circular City Committees – one per sport organisation. These Committees will have the objective to open the doors to new ways for and approaches to collaboration between sports and cities. In the background of these activities in Dublin, Cardiff, Porto and Copenhagen, the Sant’Anna School will be further developing the Key Performance Indicator dashboard which would be used for assessing the state-of-art environmental performances of the sport organisations and allow the Committees to monitor and evaluate the improvements they would agree on at a later stage. Nonetheless, the project is also expected to publish a comprehensive selection of good practices from across Europe around summer months of 2023 highlighting the most innovative and cross-sectoral solutions for improving the environmental performance of sports.

In order to achieve this, the afternoon of the same day was reserved for a training on Communities of Practice. This methodology was chosen not only for ensuring coherent and systematic setup, progression and resolute Circular City Committees but also guaranteeing their inclusive and participatory decision making. Led by Ernest Kovacs of ACR+, the training encompassed various phases in the lifetime of a Community of Practice, starting with defining one, its inception and establishment and most importantly – its maturity phase which should be the fruit-bearing one providing an action plan for tangible results. This was also the first of the three enabling training sessions within the project’s framework with the gender mainstreaming and community engagement coming latter this year. All the training material will be made available on the project’s website.

The next Transnational Meeting will take place in Porto, right after the summer months of 2023.

GAA Green Club Toolkit launch

A new GAA Green Club Toolkit launched on 3 December 2022 in Croke Park will be freely available to all GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association units and members to support the implementation of simple sustainability actions across the five areas of Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport.

The GAA Green Club Toolkit is the culmination of two years of collaboration between the GAA and the local authority sector, led by the County and City Management Association (CCMA), on a project to support sustainability and climate action in clubs and communities. The GAA-CCMA partnership led to the establishment of the GAA Green Club Programme, which saw over 30 clubs from across 17 Counties participate in Phase 1 of the GAA’s first ever national grassroots sustainability initiative. The Toolkit, which offers clear and practical advice to Gaelic Games clubs on how to engage in green and sustainable actions, contains applied and engaging case studies from the Phase 1 Green Clubs.

Green Clubs were thanked at the launch for their contribution to the development of the Toolkit, with each club presented with a plaque in recognition of their participation.

Expressions of interest for the next phase of the GAA Green Club Programme were opened at the Toolkit launch. An additional 75 Clubs from across the 32 counties will be selected to participate in Phase 2 of the GAA Green Club Programme, which will run from 2023 to 2024.

The GAA Green Club Programme is supported by the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and was featured as a case study in the recently launched Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) National Implementation Plan 2022-2024.

GAA President Larry McCarthy said at the launch: “The GAA is a games organisation but it is also an organisation built on our commitment to the communities that our clubs represent. This Green Clubs Toolkit will support our members to ensure that our extensive network of facilities at club and county level are equipped to follow best practice across the five pillars of Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Travel and to ensure we play our part as community leaders in environmental sustainability. After two years of hard work I want to thank all the organisation who collaborated on this initiative and look forward to the Green Club Toolkit being put into action by clubs at home and abroad.”

Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications was quoted as saying: “The Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications is delighted to support the GAA in its Green Club Programme. The GAA is at the heart of every community and parish in the country. Climate change is often seen as a global challenge but it’s very much a local challenge, something that we can all do something about – right here, in our parish, in our clubs.”

“The GAA Green Club Toolkit is an invaluable tool that identifies practical local solutions to this global challenge. It works because it doesn’t section climate action off – it stitches it into every day life, every day sport, every day community development and enrichment. The leadership shown by the GAA at national, regional and local level is captured in the inspiring case studies that bring this excellent resource to life. I’d like to acknowledge the work that all the contributors made to this resource and applaud their success in translating the Sustainable Development Goals into meaningful action through the Green Club Toolkit. I look forward to following the positive impact that the Green Club Programme makes in clubs and communities across Ireland”

For more information visit

Source: GAA

Football Association of Wales’s first sustainability strategy to harness football for Wales and the world’s well-being

While the men’s national team was heading to their first World Cup in 64 years, chief executive, Noel Mooney, said the organisation would put sustainability at the heart of all its decisions, encouraging the whole football ecosystem, and the rest of the nation, to follow its lead.

The strategy has been developed with the support of the Future Generations of Wales Commissioner, using the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act as its cornerstone. In 2015, Wales became the first country in the world to enshrine a duty to protect future generations into law. This means that any policy decisions made today must consider the impact on the generations of tomorrow.

Now the country’s football association is taking on that pioneering spirit with the vision to become a leader in sustainability in the world of sports, showcasing the example football can play in a small nation to inspire others to follow their journey.

The ‘Cymru, well-being and the world’ strategy builds on 2021’s ‘Our Wales’ strategic plan, which outlined six strategic pillars to build a sustainable association for the future. The report provides a clear plan of action for the FAW to develop sustainable and stronger clubs, leagues, and initiatives across seven focus areas: team, health, structures, facilities, partnerships, decarbonisation and croeso.

Steps are varied and include everything from revised procurement processes to setting up swap shop schemes for kit and equipment, creating a fund to install EV charging points at clubs and identifying locally sourced, plastic-free, plant-based food packaging for the football eco-system.

A pilot scheme will establish a well-being football hub in a health board to provide clinical, social care, mental health care and well-being services, before being rolled out across the country, while clubs and leagues will be twinned with others around the world to learn and share. The promotion of new participation formats and styles of football is on the table to increase access to playing for all.

FAW CEO, Noel Mooney said: “You’ve only got to step onto the street in Cymru at the moment to see the hold football has over the nation. There’s 3.1m of us excited for our first World Cup in 64 years and we’re determined to harness this power to improve Cymru’s economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being. We see it as our responsibility to advocate for issues in local communities and around the world which positively impact our way of life.

“The pandemic has contributed to a tough couple of years for football communities around Cymru, but we’re bouncing back strongly. We like to think of ourselves as a progressive organisation in tune with the culture of the communities and characters that make up our beautiful game. Thinking sustainability first can reduce our footprint and waste, become more efficient and make savings that can be re-invested into grassroots football.”

Mooney continued: “While The Red Wall will be cheering us on at home and overseas this month, so many supporters never got the opportunity to share in this truly special moment. That’s why we’re asking fans to plant a tree for someone no longer with us through the My Tree, Our Forest initiative which launches later in November and will contribute to the National Forest for Wales. Those trees will help tackle the climate crisis and be around for many more World Cups to come. The offer begins two days before our first game, and we’d ask fans to look out for more information.

“Working with the Future Generations Commissioner, we’re committed to inspiring others and working together with people and organisations across Cymru today to make a better tomorrow. Gorau chwarae cyd chwarae. Let’s work together. Likewise, we’re integral to Welsh Government’s vision for sport to be a part of Cymru’s story as a globally responsible nation that cares. We’ll also be working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging with UEFA’s football sustainability strategy 2030. One brick at a time, we’ll build a red wall at home and around the world.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales said: “Cymru is proving it can be a world leader – on and off the pitch! The Well-being of Future Generations Act is at the heart of this sustainability strategy, and I commend FAW’s commitment to protecting the needs and interests of current and future generations. This is a holistic sustainability strategy which outlines the actions needed to address multiple crises and create a better world for those yet to be born. I look forward to supporting staff, players, volunteers, communities and partners to make Wales the most sustainable sporting association in the world!”

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “What can make us even prouder of a team in the World Cup, is an organisation behind it that mirrors the values of a nation. FAW have shown their progressive stripes in their sustainability strategy published today. In our sports, our politics and our day to day living, we always strive to be a better Wales – an inclusive Wales that considers what impact our actions today will have on our future generations to follow.

You can consult the strategy here.

Source: Football Association of Wales

Danish Football Association and FC Porto present at UEFA’s launch of its Circular Economy Guidelines

The guidelines are a part of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 and were unveiled with a panel discussion on the topic with the Danish Football Association and FC Porto being present as panellists.

On 7 September 2021, UEFA unveiled its Circular Economy Guidelines in conjunction with Zero Waste Week and the launch of the UEFA Football Sustainability Strategy 2030 – titled ‘Strength Through Unity’ – earlier this year.

The overarching strategy contains 11 policies, one of which focuses on circular economy, and the launch of the guidelines on that topic featured panel discussions between experts in the field from across the European football, political and corporate spectrum.

In the UEFA context, circular economy refers to the optimisation of the consumption and life cycle of products, most notably food, packaging and branded items throughout UEFA operations and events. The organisation’s 2030 ambition is to embed the so-called ‘4R approach’ – built around reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering – in all operations to minimise the impact of football on the environment and drive resource efficiency and cost savings.

The guidelines include three sections: an introduction to the circular economy concept and the 4R framework; best practice and factsheets in the food and beverage domain by various football stakeholders (created with the support of UEFA’s commercial partner PepsiCo); and an outlook into forthcoming circular economy focus areas – energy and water, apparel and football equipment, and event materials (signage, brand production and furniture, and IT equipment).

Michele Uva, UEFA football & social responsibility director said: “The circular economy is an important pillar of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy 2030. Collaborating with PepsiCo and several European clubs to assess aspects of circularity in food and beverage was instrumental in the development of the UEFA guidelines. I look forward to seeing these guidelines translated into tangible actions within UEFA, across UEFA events and collaboratively across European football to help us achieve our aspirational targets around zero plastic waste and food waste.”

The guidelines will help national associations, leagues, clubs, sponsors, event organisers and other football stakeholders start the journey towards hitting those targets by 2030.

Circular economy practices were tested last season with several clubs that participated in the UEFA Champions League, which led to the creation of a database of best practices and the formation of a consultation group among clubs to share knowledge and discuss common challenges, and a feasibility analysis.

The panel discussions, which included Anders Kjaer, the FSR manager at the Danish Football Association and Ricardo Carvalho, the sports facilities & asset manager at FC Porto, focused on circular economy from a strategic angle, highlighting the opportunities for collaborative solutions in the European football landscape as well as the challenges and opportunities around implementing the guidelines across football stakeholders.

Emmanuelle Maire, head of unit for circular economy, directorate general for environment at the European Commission shared his impressions: “We welcome the launch of the UEFA circular economy guidelines. We encourage clubs, national associations, players and supporters to reduce their environmental impact by taking concrete actions such as reducing food and plastic waste, separating waste, using reusable products or buying green with the EU Ecolabel. We very much look forward to the UEFA’s forthcoming measures to reduce energy and water use. Together, we can unite our efforts and drive the transition to a sustainable and circular economy.”

Source: UEFA

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