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!

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