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Sustainability and sports: a call for real leadership and action – Susie Thomson, ThinkBeyond

December 14 2023

So, COP28 has come to an end. An important event no doubt, and particularly valuable in highlighting the climate challenge we all face.

Sustainability and sports: a call for real leadership and action  – Susie Thomson, ThinkBeyond

But I can’t help feeling deflated in the role of sport in arguably the biggest threat to modern civilisation.

I’ve spent my career presenting evidence to influence policy makers and sports leaders make better decisions. Placing value on our environment and society alongside driving economic growth.

At COP this year a range of these sports leaders challenging the status quo took to the stage, including thinkBeyond clients Fiona Morgan (SailGP), Rishi Jain (Liverpool Football Club) and World Athletics led by Bob Ramsak. We see our clients as partners on the journey and working with these organisations has been immensely rewarding.

But the sad reality is there aren’t enough individuals and organisations like them. Despite the transformative power of sport, it is way behind where it should be on becoming not just sustainable but becoming a leader in sustainability.

A case in point. Around 300 sports organisations have signed up to Sports for Climate Action– the UN’s initiative to create sports-wide standards in measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions – but few can actually credibly report emissions, and even fewer have a carbon reduction plan, let alone a climate transition plan. That fundamentally means the number of sports organisations actually making real reductions is small.

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