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IOC announces shortlist for inaugural Climate Action Awards

July 20 2023 - News Release News Editorial

Celebrating those in the Olympic Movement who are taking tangible steps to tackle the climate crisis, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced the shortlisted athletes, International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for the inaugural IOC Climate Action Awards. More than 70 applications were received from across the Olympic Movement for three award categories: sustainable travel, innovation and athlete advocacy.

IOC announces shortlist for inaugural Climate Action Awards

The IOC Climate Action Awards are supported by Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partners (TOPs) Airbnb, Deloitte and P&G. They aim to recognise innovative and effective efforts from across the Olympic Movement to limit sport’s impact on climate, while inspiring others to follow suit. The initiative was launched in November 2022 as part of the IOC’s commitment to sustainability.

Shortlisted candidates

The Climate Action x Sustainable Travel Award, supported by Airbnb, recognises innovative action and advocacy to travel more sustainably within the sports calendar. Athletes, IFs and NOCs have showcased remarkable efforts in this field, exploring sustainable travel options and raising awareness about the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

The shortlisted candidates are:

In the athlete category:

  • Marton Kekesi, Alpine Skiing, Hungary – for recognising the impact of his travel schedule and taking steps to reduce his carbon footprint, including by car sharing, travelling by electric vehicle and choosing accommodation as close as possible to his event venue.
  • Marcus Mepstead, Fencing, Great Britain – for advocating climate action through an Environmental Sustainability Athlete Group and for his work as an Ambassador for the Trees for the Future charity.
  • Katie Tannenbaum, Skeleton, US Virgin Islands – for strategically planning her competition schedule to minimise travel emissions and ensuring fewer people travel from race to race
  • Marion Thénault, Freestyle Skiing, Canada – for working to calculate, reduce and compensate her carbon emissions, and for raising awareness through her work with the non-profit Protect Our Winters Canada.

In the IF category:

  • Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – for developing the UCI Bike City label, which supports and rewards cities and regions for hosting major UCI cycling events and investing in infrastructure and programmes to promote cycling amongst their wider population.
  • World Rugby – for implementing a number of initiatives to reduce travel impacts and support its climate action objectives, including by combining previously separate men’s and women’s events at the Sevens World Series.
  • World Sailing – for identifying travel and transport as one of its main focus areas for carbon emissions reduction, with priorities including reduced organisational travel and new policies for promoting the use of public transport by staff.

In the NOC category:

  • Spanish Olympic Committee – for promoting sustainable mobility by using electric and hybrid vehicles from Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota, and prioritising the use of trains for domestic staff travel.
  • Swiss Olympic – for promoting sustainable travel during the 2023 European Youth Olympic Festival by ensuring the Swiss delegation travelled together by coach and minibus rather than flying.

The Climate Action x Innovation Award, supported by Deloitte, recognises how innovation and education drives climate action. The creative and innovative solutions demonstrated by athletes, IFs and NOCs are inspiring and help us to collectively create a more sustainable future.

The shortlisted candidates are:

In the athlete category:

  • Benjamin Blankenship, Athletics, USA – for establishing the Endless Mileage Project, which plants trees for every American miler who breaks 4 minutes (men) and 4:30 min (women) in the event, and which redistributes used sports clothing and equipment to local schools.
  • Paloma Schmidt Gutierrez, Sailing, Peru – for her work with the organising committee of the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) European Championships in Andora, Italy, to introduce a range of measures to reduce waste.
  • Marie-Claude Molnar, Para Cycling, Canada – for encouraging elite and grassroots athletes to consider the environmental impact of their sporting equipment and urging equipment manufacturers and suppliers to measure the environmental impacts of their product lines.
  • Lina Taylor, Beach Volleyball, Bulgaria – for launching a non-profit organisation called Climate Executive Coaching, which supports climate and sustainability leaders through science-based training and solution-focused professional coaching.

In the IF category:

  • International Biathlon Union (IBU) – for helping local organising committees of IBU events measure and manage their carbon emissions, including by developing a tailor-made event CO2 footprint calculation tool.
  • Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – for launching the UCI Climate Action Charter, which unites cycling stakeholders to reduce the sport’s emissions, advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and advocate more everyday cycling.
  • World Rugby – for implementing in partnership with the South African Rugby Union and CRDC “The Bag that Builds” – an innovative initiative involving the collection of waste generated by fans, athletes and operations staff during the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 for conversion into an eco-aggregate used for the construction of social housing in the event’s host nation, South Africa.
  • World Sailing – for leading the establishment of the Carbon Fibre Circular Alliance (CFCA) to promote the use of recycled carbon fibre in equipment for sailing and other sports.

In the NOC category:

  • Brazilian Olympic Committee – for moving to more energy-efficient headquarters, introducing remote working for employees, and modifying its training centre to reduce energy consumption.
  • Colombian Olympic Committee – for launching a pilot initiative to reduce carbon emissions at the National Sea and Beach Games held in Tolú (Coveñas) in 2021, which is being rolled out at other sporting events in the country.
  • Spanish Olympic Committee – for working to develop a climate mitigation programme using seagrass and marine reforestation, following the successful launch of the Spanish Olympic Forest.
  • Swiss Olympic – for launching the Swiss Olympic Climate Fund – an innovative carbon mitigation scheme for the Swiss sporting system.

The Climate Action x Athlete Advocacy Award, supported by P&G, highlights the endeavours of athletes who actively engage people and communities in the fight against climate change. Shortlisted athletes are recognised for leveraging their platforms to serve as advocates, inspiring others and promoting sustainable practices that contribute to a greener world.

The shortlisted candidates are:

  • Benjamin Blankenship, Athletics, USA – for promoting sustainability through the establishment of the Endless Mileage Project, which plants trees for every American miler who breaks 4 minutes (men) and 4:30 min (women) in the event and redistributes used sports clothing and equipment to local schools.
  • James Farndale, Rugby Sevens, Great Britain – for his work with EcoAthletes – a non-profit that inspires athletes to become climate leaders. As a spokesperson for the cause, he has engaged in panels, participated in podcasts and used his platform to educate others.
  • Marcus Mepstead, Fencing, Great Britain – for driving the development of fencing equipment made from recycled ocean plastic to help raise awareness of sustainable practices, and for advocating climate action through his role as an ambassador for Trees for the Future and as a member of an Environmental Sustainability Athlete Group.
  • Oliver Scholfield, Field Hockey, Canada – for his work with Racing to Zero, which aims to equip grassroots sports events and organisations with the tools and knowledge they need to adopt sustainable practices.

“The IOC Climate Action Awards celebrate the efforts of athletes, International Federations and National Olympic Committees that are leading the way in addressing the climate crisis,” said Marie Sallois, the IOC’s Director for Sustainability. “We are extremely grateful for the support and collaboration of our Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partners, Airbnb, Deloitte and P&G. We hope that these awards will serve as an inspiration for others to follow suit and use the power of sport to contribute to the global fight against climate change.”

The winners of the IOC Climate Action Awards will be announced prior to the International Athletes’ Forum taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 1 and 2 October 2023.

For more information about the IOC Climate Action Awards, click here.

Find out more about the Worldwide Olympic Partners AirbnbDeloitte and P&G, which are supporting these awards.

To find out more about the IOC’s work on climate, click here.

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