Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with David Stubbs, Executive Director, Committed to Green Foundation

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

An Interview with David Stubbs, Executive Director, Committed to Green Foundation

Article excerpt



David Stubbs is a specialist in conservation biology and environmental management with particular application to the sport and recreation industry. Here he talks to Trevor Slack about green issues in the staging of major games and green sponsorship.

TS: You have been extensively involved with the environmental issues that are associated with the staging of major games. Can you tell me a little bit about how and why such issues have come to be on the agenda of events such as the Olympic Games?

DS: The precise origins of all this are uncertain but probably relate to a combination of factors. The first event to be credited with a "green dimension" was the Lillehammer Winter Olympics of 1994. This seems to have been a spontaneous local initiative feeding off the rising profile of green issues at the time.

A key milestone must have been the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, at which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was represented. This event certainly struck a chord with the IOC leadership, that was eventually consolidated by including a clause on sustainability in the Olympic Charter.

Crucially, at that time the final bid preparations for the 2000 Summer Games were being made. In Australia, Green-peace had been part of a consortium bidding to build a "Sustainable Athletes' Village" as part of the Sydney bid. Although that specific project did not get chosen, the Sydney Bid Committee certainly picked up on the green agenda, perceiving it as another point in their bid's favour.

As we all know, in 1993 Sydney won the bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games, ahead of the perceived front runner, Beijing. Few would seriously credit Sydney's environmental proposals as being determinant but, all the politics aside, Sydney did win on a green ticket. Having won, the organisers were faced with a determined non-governmental organisation (NGO) community and public insisting that the 100 environmental commitments in the bid should be honoured. I am not suggesting the green element would have been ignored otherwise, but the continued vigilance of Greenpeace Australia and the Green Games Watch coalition of local NGOs certainly kept the issues in the spotlight.

Then, within six months of Sydney winning the bid, the Lillehammer Games took place and showed to the world that certain environmental components can be successfully integrated into a major event. It was a promising start.

In July 1995, the IOC were sufficiently emboldened by all this to host (in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme) the first World Conference on Sport and Environment, at its headquarters in Lausanne. This was a very positive meeting and spawned the creation of the IOC's Sport and Environment Commission.

By now, more and more detailed environmental issues were being incorporated into the bidding criteria for future Olympic Games. It should be remembered that due to the seven-year time lag between awarding and hosting (and even longer from first joining the bid process), most of the recent Games started their bid when environmental issues were not on the agenda.

Nor should we forget the general upping of environmental awareness and legislative controls throughout the world. A number of sports, such as golf, alpine skiing and motorcycling, have been the focus of considerable environmental attention. To different degrees their governing bodies have had to respond to these issues with a range of studies, reports, guidelines and rules. In short, the sport sector, like any other business sector, has discovered that it is not immune from environmental questions and that it has to address these matters with increasing seriousness.

TS: Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with the team of volunteer Venue Environment Managers at the Sydney Olympics?

DS: On a personal level I had been closely following Sydney's progress as it was very relevant to my main work with the European Golf Association Ecology Unit. …

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