Reeve Consulting ‘Out and About’: World Conference on Sport and the Environment

On March 30th Reeve Consulting attended the World Conference on Sport and Environment which is organized every two years by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations Environment Programme. The conference is designed to encourage strong social responsibility and reduce the impacts that sports events can have on the environment, particularly the Olympics.

This year the theme of the conference was ‘Innovation and Inspiration: Harnessing the Power of Sport for Change’. Reeve would like to note a few interesting points from the delegates of the conference:

Thomas Van Dyck, Senior Vice President – Financial Consultant, Senior Consulting Group RBC Wealth Management – SRI Wealth Management Group, USA delivered a compelling opening plenary presentation speaking to the critical importance of ethical and sustainable purchasing as a market mechanism to scale up a green and sustainability oriented economy.

Ann Duffy, Corporate Sustainability Officer, Vancouver 2010, and David Stubbs, Head of Environment and Sustainable Development, London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG 2012) highlighted how purchasing is a central tenant of their overall strategies to advance zero waste, carbon neutral commitments and other sustainability priorities. Reeve worked closely with Vancouver 2010 on the development of their Buy Smart program and was happy to see this program being profiled in Ann’s presentation.

Hon. Gordon Campbell, Premier of the Province of British Columbia, was impressive as he highlighted the importance of investing in a green economy and that we need to act now on the issue of climate change. He painted an optimistic vision of how we can capitalize on investments in green technologies and infrastructure to build a stronger and more productive economy in BC and beyond. Reeve Consulting shares this vision and it’s great to hear the premier of BC showing leadership on an international platform.

The conference was a great opportunity to network with likeminded firms, organizations and individuals. A couple of our observations from the conference include:

  • sport management professionals and other major event representatives at the conference are clearly hungry for details on sustainable purchasing
  • many we spoke with were looking for more tangible examples of actual program implementation / challenges and success
  • many sessions were struggling to get started and finished on time as there was a thirst for networking and folks    were keen to continue conversations outside of the sessions
  • some question periods were quite limited, which in some cases, stifled some potentially interesting discussions
  • hopefully day two will begin really start to unpeel the implementation onion and move from discussion of plans and management systems to actual results

Reeve ‘Out and About’: The Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit Workshop

Reeve participated this past Sunday, March 29th, in the Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET) Workshop organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) as a pre-conference activity to the 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver.

As a legacy of the 2010 Games, VANOC has been working with AISTS, the International Olympic Committee and other global sport organizations to create an easy-to-use web-based toolkit designed to help sport event organizers manage their footprint. This workshop was organized to provide understanding of the toolkit’s resources and website, and listen to first-hand stories from athletes and sport organizations currently involved in testing the toolkit.

The toolkit has eight chapters that will guide the user in creating sustainable sport and event strategies.  Chapter 5 focuses on how to involve the community and engage in Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing to support sustainable sport event commitments.  An innovative feature of the toolkit is the web-based SSET Wiki, which is an interactive platform that allows users of the toolkit to login and share best practices, ideas, statistics, stories and general comments and feedback.  The SSET Wiki also provides resources and tools that are linked directly to goals and objectives in the toolkit.

The workshop presented a wealth of information on how Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing can be leveraged by sports organizations to meet their overall sustainability commitments.  For example, VANOC shared some success stories of their Buy Smart Program, which was designed, with support from Reeve Consulting, to ensure that sustainability, ethical choices and Aboriginal participation are taken into account within procurement and licensing activities.  London 2012, Speed Skating Canada, and the International Cycling Union also recognized the role of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in achieving sustainability objectives of sporting events.

Reeve sees the SSET as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of future large-scale games and is excited to support the enhancement of this tool through the interactive wiki web platform.  The SSET will help to embed Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in future games and Reeve Consulting looks forward to participating in the application of this innovative toolkit.

Stakeholders Key to Ethical Purchasing Policy for Global Games

The recent negative publicity around Beijing 2008’s licensed merchandise is evidence that issues of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing is on the rise as a key strategic issue in the Olympic movement.  Organising and bid committees are waking up to this reality and, as a result, are making strong commitments to ethical and sustainable purchasing. 

 Setting goals related to sustainability is an increasing norm among Organising and Bid Committees.  Procurement is seen as a leverage point through which such goals can be realized, and damaging PR issues can be avoided.  The wider Olympic family, such as Olympic sponsors as well as both the International and National Olympic Committees, are also seeing the importance of sustainable procurement to their strategy and PR programs.   

Vancouver 2010’s has made and continues to make considerable efforts through setting a new benchmark in ethical and sustainable purchasing within the Olympic movement.  London 2012 is monitoring these initiatives and also intending to meet its sustainability goals, in part, through procurement.  A recent article in the Financial Times cites Mayor Ken Livingstone as committing to hold its Olympic suppliers to ethical criteria.  The Tokyo 2016 Bid Committee has also included a commitment to sustainable procurement in its bid. 

Another positive trend that is emerging is organising committees and their stakeholders are taking a collaborative approach to these initiatives.  This is evidenced through the increased dialogue between NGO stakeholders and the various committees.   VANOC has engaged its stakeholders throughout the development of its Buy Smart program.  London is continually engaged with its stakeholders on everything from developing its sustainability plan to venue construction to procurement.  

The Olympic movement is moving into new territory as it strives to align with the greater community’s expectations around and commitment to sustainability and ethical and sustainable procurement will serve to raise the level of play.  Furthermore, those efforts that are based on collaborative approaches and stakeholder engagement will only ensure greater success.  

For more information on VANOC’s sustainability initiatives, please go to: http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/Sustainability 

For more information on London 2012, please go to: http://www.london2012.com/plans/sustainability/index.php 

The recent article in the Financial Times can be found at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bb32aa56-d82d-11dc-98f7-0000779fd2ac.html

Do You Really Know What You Are Buying? The Perils of GreenWashing…

Although many organisations recognize ethical and sustainable purchasing as a key strategic issue, barriers to action still exist.  One example is a lack of awareness or understanding what constitutes an ethically or environmentally preferable product or ‘green’ product.  Many products can claim to be “all natural”, “environmentally friendly” or even “fair trade”, but without certification to back these claims, it is difficult to know what, exactly, you are buying.  A recent report from Terra Choice Marketing, “The Six Sins of Greenwashing” highlight six specific, and not so uncommon practices, of companies providing misleading product information: 

1)       The Sin of the Hidden Trade-off

This sin is characterised by using one environmental attribute to suggest that a product is “green”.  The report cites that often claims are made based on a narrow set of green criteria and do not necessarily take into account a complete environmental analysis that looks at a product’s full lifecycle.   A case in point is a recent article (see below) from Queens Journal on a “carbon-positive” wine company.  Plantatree wine promises to plant a conifer sapling for every bottle sold in an attempt to offset the CO2 emitted from an average Canadian.  While a laudable initiative, the article points out that it may be more beneficial to offset the emissions caused from the production process for making the wine itself.   

2)       The Sin of No Proof

Pretty self-explanatory, ‘the sin of no proof’ occurs when product make unsubstantiated claims about their green attributes.  Products sometimes make claims to be energy-efficient or not tested on animals, to name a few examples, but provide no backup information or certification as proof. 

3)       Sin of Irrelevance

Products will sometimes promote themselves as being distinctively green when in reality, they are acting in compliance with local laws and regulations.  Terra Choice uses “CFCs” as an example.  These substances have been legally banned for 30 years, therefore all products are CFC-free.  Those touting themselves as such are misleading the public into believing they are in some way more progressive than they really are. 

4)       Sin of Vagueness

The sin of vagueness is characterized by claims that are ambiguous or meaningless.  One common example is products that print the Mobius loop (recycling symbol) without a qualifying statement that tells consumer exactly what, and how much, of the product is made from recycled content. 

5)       Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

Organic cigarettes or environmentally preferable herbicides are examples of products guilty of ‘the sin of lesser of two evils’.  Although such products may indeed offer favourable environmental attributes, the products, themselves, pose greater negative impact to the environment and human health. 

6)       Sin of Fibbing

Again, this is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply put, some products will lie outright about their environmental qualifications.  Although this is least common among the sins, it can occur. How do you avoid these sinful products?  The recommended approach is to first look for eco certifications standardized by bodies that issue guidelines for making environmental claims.  As an example, ISO 14024 sets guidelines or standards for third party Eco-labelling organizations to follow and ensures that environmental information is presented accurately.  Furthermore, the report suggests that consumers remain aware of the six sins and attempt to evaluate products accordingly. 

Although this report focused on greenwashing, the same may occur with ethical claims as well.  Therefore, look for fair trade certifications for added assurance these products meet the standards you expect.

Look for the Logo.  (Examples of product certifications)

Ecologo   Fair Trade Certified

More information on product certifications bodies:

www.ecologo.org

www.transfair.ca

For a copy of the TerraChoice report, please go to: http://www.terrachoice.com/Home/Greenwashing/The%20Six%20Sins 

Queen’s journal article on Green Wine: http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2008-01-15/news/tapping-sustainable-wine/ 

For more information on ISO 14024, please go to: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=23145