Next year’s European Championship in Germany will reduce overall emissions to a minimum with a target of 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide2 Equivalent to a concrete plan of 99 actions and reaching -20% of the goal. The German event, scheduled to take place from June 14 to July 14, 2024, will be the most ambitious test, at least in the near future, of Social and environmental sustainability strategy It was approved at the end of 2021 by UEFA. A topic that, with the arrival of Italian Michelle Ova At the helm of European football’s governing body, Social and Environmental Sustainability, he is witnessing an impressive acceleration.
“Strength through unity” is the name given to the plan that sets the 2030 Agenda “not as an ultimate goal – says Uva – but as an obligatory step towards reducing the burden of the entire football system on the environment and on society.” “There is no zero impact, there will always be a fundamental turnover in an event or activity, but in this regard we need to intervene with clear strategies to contribute to the change in approach. For Germany 2024, for example, “we have created a fund to finance small and large interventions for clubs: From the photovoltaic system for regional clubs to major infrastructure works for the most important clubs. The project could also be applied to the UEFA European Football Association Finals. “
But it is in the overall structure that UEFA will really make the difference: for example, by implementing a strategy with environmental, ethical and institutional standards for each of the 19 finals organized directly by UEFA. What is there in this plan that wants to change so much of the perception – and the real weight – of football events? The strategy is formulated around 11 themes, each supported by clear objectives and measurement indicators and will be implemented in the areas of action: in the internal organization, in directly organized events, in the 55 associations of which it is part, in leagues and clubs, in relations with partners and institutions.. There are ready-to-use guidance available to stakeholders and a commitment by associations to have managers and sustainability plans dedicated to their activities. In Italy, the Italian Football Federation and Serie A have just approved their strategy following UEFA indications and several clubs are on the verge of doing so. “At NEON, we have built a very competent team, made up of 15 colleagues, who work every day to achieve these goals – continues Ova – our ambition is to inspire and accelerate to create a cascading impact, bearing in mind that important social and environmental aspects are clearly interconnected, and that is why we are speaking More and more about ESG criteria, which is an acronym that stands for… Environmental, social and governance. An important aspect also lies in planning the infrastructure that will host matches at all levels.”
It is no coincidence that UEFA has created one “Sustainable Infrastructure Guide” Which integrates best practices in a wide range of fields (energy, water, materials, electricity, mobility and accessibility). Clubs will have to play an important role in this process also taking into account the fact that sustainability criteria have been introduced into UEFA’s club licensing system: to play European competitions from this year, you must respect the established criteria.
“However, before any action, there is a need to know and evaluate – adds the 58-year-old sporting director, among others former general manager of Parma, Lazio, Kone Cervese and the Italian Football Federation – one’s impact on the environment. For example, we Ready to launch “Football carbon footprint calculator”, which will be made available to all federations, leagues and clubs to enable them to understand the extent to which their activity as a whole, and therefore not just for matches, impacts the environment. The natural result will be a reduction plan that must be concrete and have a decisive impact.”
Therefore, there are many initiatives and the feedback has been very encouraging. UEFA’s commercial partners are also actively involved in implementing the strategy. the European Championship Germany 2024 It will also be interesting to follow these new challenges that will serve as a reference point, not only for the world of football. It is enough to read the published ESG strategy to understand that UEFA has become a pioneer on the sustainability path and wants to engage all stakeholders with a cascading effect.
“It is a long-term path – concludes Uva – What reassures us is that the approach is changing rapidly thanks to pressure from legislators as well, especially at the European level.
We will never talk about “zero”, but about reduction, reduction, reduction following the 4R approach applied in football. We are aiming for 2030 only as an intermediate step, but it is a paradigm shift for which it does not make sense to set a deadline because the world of football must be able to make its tangible contribution in these aspects.
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