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.

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