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 to appear 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 will travel 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 will see 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 event will see 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 is entering its last coupe of months before it ends in December, with big aspirations and ambitions to become an independent and self-sustaining platform, a series of workshops and dissemination events are 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 will be a good opportunity to highlight the objectives and the principles, the project is 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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