That sport should benefit the community and be sustainable, were the main takeaways from the tree planting ceremony that took place at the FEI World Championships Forest on Tuesday.
Created in cooperation with the host city, the FEI World Championships Forest is just one of many green initiatives by the Organising Committee of the ECCO FEI World Championships 2022 in Herning (DEN), demonstrating that the world of sport can get serious about implementing sustainable ideas.
“The forest is a key component of the Organising Committee’s work around the three sustainability principles which aim to encourage affordable and clean energy, responsible consumption and production, and partnerships to achieve these goals,” External Business Consultant Jasper Steinhausen said.
“I believe there is a real need to redefine sustainability and not think of it in terms of minimising our negative impact. Rather, the goal is to maximise a positive impact. It’s about creating and not minimising. And if you frame the task of sustainability in a positive manner, it unleashes a whole new world of possibilities and opens people’s minds to see new opportunities and solutions.
“By showing the world that sports events can naturally take care of their emissions, we aim to inspire future event organisers to do the same and show our guests that there are many ways of being sustainable.”
With knowledge transfer a key component of the Herning2022 Organising Committee’s sustainability plan, they have themselves adopted initiatives from the hosts of the 2018 Ice Hockey World Championship also held in Herning.
One of these initiatives has been the creation of onsite housing for the 900 volunteers who will be working at the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning in different areas of the Event operations.
The Organisers have used an existing building to create accommodation for these volunteers onsite, and have also made a dedicated camping ground for volunteers in order to reduce travel times and carbon emissions during the Event.
To help offset carbon emissions, Herning2022 also invited the 50 participating National Federations to support a windfarm project chosen by the Organising Committee and its partner First Climate.
As part of its commitment to sustainability and the organisation of sustainable equestrian events, the Fédération Equestre International (FEI) will also contribute to the plan by fully offsetting the FEI Delegation’s carbon emissions.
“If we all do just a little, then together we do a lot,” Sustainability Coordinator for the Herning2022 Organising Committee Clara Lier Koppelhus said.
“The ECCO FEI World Championships 2022 in Herning is a one-off event, and while many believe that we cannot achieve 100% sustainability, we have nevertheless worked on creating as many sustainable solutions as possible.
“We have really tried to focus all our efforts on changing mindsets and inspiring others to also include initiatives to promote an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Our hope now is that other Events will pick up on some of the things we’ve learnt here in Herning and continue the work from where we leave off.
“It’s great that our suppliers and the partners that we are reaching out to, are listening to our ambitions and thoughts and are really open minded,” Koppelhus said from Solution Square, an area at the venue dedicated to Danish environmental technology and circular economy initiatives. “We really appreciate that everyone has been positive. We have not experienced one supplier, partner or sponsor that has been negative about these arrangements.”
The Organising Committee’s sustainability ambitions, which were clearly laid out in a letter of intent sent to suppliers, created the foundation for their collaboration with MCH Messecenter Herning, the complex where the World Championships are being held.
“We worked closely with MCH for them to improve their waste management system along with their supplier, and we’re now pleased to see that the solutions offered here are marketed towards companies across Denmark,” Koppelhus explained. “And when MCH were made aware of our sustainability goals and aims, our conversations changed. We were more open about asking for more sustainable ideas and everyone spoke openly about potential solutions.
In order to ensure sustainable consumption and production, the Organisers have opted to rent or borrow instead of buying new, and whenever possible to ensure that products and materials purchased for the event can be reused.
To maximise the value of the products needed for the Event, the Organisers have already found alternate uses for the rubber mats, dressage fences, and medal podiums following the end of the FEI World Championships. The majority of plants that have been used around the arena will be replanted in the FEI World Championships Forest located on the outskirts of the city of Herning which was planted in cooperation with the Herning Municipality.
When asked what lessons can be learned from the Herning2022 experience, Koppelhus stressed the importance of first having a clear plan of action.
“We didn't really know where to start when we first started this World Championship venture, but our sustainability plans became stronger as we started to work through our CO2 emission calculations,” Koppelhus explained.
“These calculations helped us get an idea of the biggest emission factors which helped us narrow down our activities and concentrate on the ones with the most impact, instead of trying to do a lot of things at once.
“We were also very clear in our philosophy, which was that we wanted to engage people, and not force any initiatives on them. We wanted to tell them and show them that it is possible to do something to help the environment. Small steps are better than doing nothing at all.
“Lastly we always tried to be transparent in our communications around our sustainability initiatives so that people are aware of the challenges that exist in this type of planning. It is important to be open about these problems while taking the time to share insights into what has worked, because this is the only way that solutions can continue to be found.”
Photos: FEI President Ingmar De Vos, members of the Danish Dressage Team Nanna Merrald Rasmussen, Carina Cassøe Krüth, Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour made the trip to the FEI World Championships forest on the outskirts of the city of Herning during a break in the schedule to plant some trees.