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Surfrider Europe’s involvement in Green Sports Hub: a return to sources

The Surfrider Europe community, founded in 1990 by a group of surfers eager to protect the Ocean, has always felt a strong  need to preserve its sporting DNA. 

After gradually expanding to include more diverse water and outdoor sports enthusiasts – who have now fully integrated environmental issues into their practice – Surfrider Europe now wishes to extend this ecological awareness to all European sports structures.

The Association believes that sports offer a great opportunity get involved in ecological action, and that’s the reason why it has jumped on board and agreed in April 2020 to take the lead on the Green Sports Hub Europe project.  The application has been successfully evaluated and Surfrider is honoured to be leading a consortium of 9 other organisations since January 2021.

The ambition: coordinate European sports structures within a sustainable dynamic.

With the Paris Olympic Games fast approaching, sport is becoming a hot topic of conversation. This public attention is a golden opportunity to gather the industry’s stakeholders in a united effort to usher in a green transition suited for the current climate context”.

Yann Leymarie, Head of Sport and GSHE Project Coordinator, Surfrider Europe

With this in mind, the goal of Surfrider Europe through the Green Sports Hub Europe program is to support sports entities that are motivated to adopt an ecological approach – and in particular those involved within the partnership such as the Rugby World Europe, the European Volleyball Confederation and the National Olympic Committee of Slovenia (discover all of them). It is Surfrider Europe perception that the Green Sports shall aim to develop a European platform by 2024 that would facilitate dialogue between all sport entities to better understand their challenges and coordinate new shared environmental sports standards. In particular, this new European alliance would make it easier to guide federations in the organization of sustainable competitions, and to integrate ecological components in sport training so that coaches and players alike can move their practice on the path towards sustainability.

Environmental projects including sports enthusiasts as well

The launch of Green Sport represents the next step in Surfrider Europe’s mission to develop healthier environmental sporting practices. Over the past fews years, the NGO has actively lead and participated in sport-related projects to protect the Ocean and its users. Among these is the NGO’s campaign to improve bathing water quality in areas where nautical sports are practiced (surfing, bodyboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, etc.) by extending and strengthening the parameters through which these areas are monitored. These demands are publicized in the Manifesto #HealthyWater. Serving as a leading expert for the European Commission, Surfrider Europe is now working on the revision of the bathing water quality directive which is scheduled for 2021.

As change does not happen only as a result of parliamentary decisions, the NGO also strives to strengthen its actions on the field, at the level of each individual sports user. In addition to improving the ecological impact of sporting practice, the Association also encourages citizens to “green” the environment through sport-based scientific initiatives. For example, Surfrider Europe’s Plastic Origins program utilizes river kayaking expeditions to map the flow of waterway pollution to identify problem areas and stop the issue at source. The Echappée Bleue [Blue Break] sailing project is geared towards improving ocean literacy among apprentice skippers and raising awareness on marine litter. Echappée Bleue is a collaboration with champion skipper Paul Meilhat, who is one of the Surfrider Europe’s ambassadors, alongside Pauline Ado, Bixente Lizarazu, Greg Penne, Raphaël Filippi, Tony Estanguet and Guillaume Nery. All of these sports personalities are actively involved in protecting the environment and act as personal representatives of Surfrider Europe’s values in terms of ‘Sport and sustainability’.

This is where we close the loop and get back to this 2024 Horizon as we see and act on the need for green sport and on the need for the sports sector to adapt to climate change.

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