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FIS calls for unity after unveiling sustainability action plan

January 18 2024 - News Release News Editorial

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) has published an Impact Programme that it believes will provide stakeholders with a roadmap for “working together” on sustainability issues after an acrimonious debate over the governing body’s approach in recent months.

FIS calls for unity after unveiling sustainability action plan

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) has published an Impact Programme that it believes will provide stakeholders with a roadmap for “working together” on sustainability issues after an acrimonious debate over the governing body’s approach in recent months.

Billed as a “holistic, 360-degree approach to sustainability”, the action plan covers 2024-26 and includes short, mid and long-term projects and goals, with the governing body underlining its own target of “reducing the carbon footprint of FIS activities by 50% by 2030” and achieving net zero by 2040.

FIS stated in its Impact Programme launch announcement this week that it would support “concrete actions to combat or adapt to climate change while working with national ski organisations”. 

The Impact Programme’s other priorities include promoting biodiversity and protecting nature; hosting educational activities to raise awareness on climate change; utilising responsible procurement strategies to reduce negative environmental and social impacts; and producing an annual Impact Report “to share progress and ensure transparency”. 

The Impact Programme indicates that the first annual update will be published by the end of 2024. However, FIS Sustainability Director Susanna Sieff confirmed in a Q&A published on the FIS website yesterday (Wednesday) that work on a series of projects would begin in earnest in the first half of this year.

“FIS as an organisation has a responsibility to take urgent action on climate change." FIS President Johan Eliasch

Sieff said in a comment to Global Sustainable Sport: “It will be a brief qualitative and quantitative report. Certainly, in the first version we could report the results of projects with a deadline in the summer or by the end of 2024. It will follow the example of sustainability reports, but it will be simpler and easier to read.”

In the published Q&A, Sieff continued: “The next steps are to ground the projects we have set ourselves to achieve by the end of summer 2024.

“[These will include]… a new web platform for fans with a CO2 calculator and suggestions on how to reduce their carbon footprint in daily life; free education sessions on climate change and environmental protection; a sustainability guide for ski resorts; the start of a webinar series for the female athlete; a specific steering group within the FIS management to identify targets and projects to promote and increase gender equity and many more.”

However, it remains to be seen whether the Impact Programme and the apparent call for unity from the governing body will appease dissenting voices who have been fiercely critical of FIS in recent months.

Last year, open letters by Greenpeace and Protect Our Winters Europe – the latter of which attracted hundreds of signatures from winter sports athletes – criticised FIS for a perceived lack of action and transparency in the governing body’s approach to sustainability.

FIS President Johan Eliasch, who has previously countered the attacks by staunchly defending his record on sustainability, said he was “personally proud of the all-encompassing vision of the Impact Programme”.

He added: “FIS as an organisation has a responsibility to take urgent action on climate change, which threatens not only the habitat our sports depend on, but also mankind’s way of life. We also have a duty to ensure the wellbeing of athletes, and to protect the human rights of all those who work in and around snow sports. The FIS Impact Programme sets out how we will address all these challenges in one action plan.”

Image: Andreas from Pixabay

 

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