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Currently there is no standard framework for guiding or expressing the sustainable activities of a sports organisation.

More and more sports organisations are looking to develop their sustainability programmes, but without a clear framework to express these activities they are struggling to show the true social, economic, and environmental impact they have on society and the planet, whether positive or negative.

Sports needs a common framework and a common way to express sustainability.

The GSS Sustainable Pillars of Sport

Global Sustainable Sport has worked with a variety of academics and stakeholders to produce a standard framework and a standard approach to expressing the sustainable activities of a sports organisation. The result is the seven GSS Sustainable Pillars of Sport.

Based on existing frameworks and in-depth research and analysis, the seven pillars cover the full spectrum of sport: Partnerships, Participation, People, Planet, Power, Profile and Prosperity. It is by no means perfect, but it is a comprehensive assessment of the value that sport creates. The seven GSS Pillars will help and guide sports organisations on their way to becoming “Champions of Sustainability”.


1. Partnerships
One of the key UN SDG’s is SDG 17, “Partnerships for the Goals”. It is clear that the global challenges represented by the 17 SDG’s can be not be solved by any single nation, city, organisation or individual. Sport plays a vital role in bringing people together and inspiring people in a way that many other sectors cannot. As is commonly stated, “Sport has the power to change the world”. By coming together, in partnership, sport has the chance to use this power, and its global voice, to help drive a more sustainable future for sport and the planet.
SDG 17
2. Participation
UN SDG 3 focuses on “Good Health and Well-Being” one element of which is getting people active. One of sport’s greatest assets is encouraging people to get active. Given the global levels of obesity and inactivity in the world today, sport can lead the way in encouraging people to participate in some form of sport or activity
3. People
UN SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10 focus on People. Sport can play a vital role in every aspect of improving social outcomes through sport. Sport can play a role in helping to reduce poverty, hunger and inequality and improve education, diversity, water, sanitation, health and well-being.
SDG 1 SDG 2 SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 6 SDG 10
4. Planet
UN SDG’s 13, 14 and 15 focus on the Planet. Sport can help the fight against climate change, reduce carbon emissions and plastic waste, improve air and water quality and help our oceans and “Life on Land”
SDG 13 SDG 14 SDG 15
5. Power
UN SDG 16 focuses on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” which is frequently presented as Governance or Power. Sport can lead the way in pushing for world peace, reducing conflicts and promoting good governance.
SDG 16
6. Profile
An area not really covered by the UN SDG’s but an area that is a key pillar of sport is Profile. Sport helps to promote cities, countries and brands all over the world. With access to over half of the world’s population, sport can use its global platform to help promote sustainability and deliver a better future for the planet.
7. Prosperity
The UN SDG’s 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 focus on economic activity like clean energy, decent work and growth, industry, innovation, infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities and responsible consumption and production. Sport can lead the way in driving better economic outcomes through sport and also promoting other elements of economic activity like sustainable tourism and travel.
SDG 7 SDG 8 SDG 9 SDG 11 SDG 12