Notes from the Sport Positive Summit 2022

Image of the first panel session at the Sport Positive Summit 2022
Photo by Sport Positive Summit 2022

What follows is a, more or less, chronologically organised jumble of quotes and scribbles that I jotted down during my time at Day 1 of the very enjoyable and informative #SportPositive Summit at Wembley Stadium. 

Thanks to the hosts, sponsors, speakers, attendees, and organisers for their valuable contributions. 

Massimo Calvelli, CEO, ATP 

  • Sustainability is “native to younger generations.”
  • On the commercial benefits of sustainability in sport: “If we don’t bring it up [during sponsorship negotiations], they [brands] will. 100%.”
  • This was a particularly insightful and important quote for me. 

Henry Chilcott, CMO, Formula E

  • “It’s a commercial imperative for us. It gives us a competitive advantage.”
  • “The majority of people that follow our sport do not refer to themselves as motor sport fans but formula e fans [I.e. fans of the concept and the values].”

Sally Bolton OBE, CEO, All England Lawn Tennic Club

  • “[Now that our sustainability strategy is defined] We have the opportunity to partner with companies who share our values.”
  • “These days it’s no longer about ‘you do good and it’s all difficult [i.e. an uphill struggle to manage resources and win over hearts and minds], now it’s about ‘doing good in a space where others are already looking to do the same thing!’”

Henry Chilcott, CMO, Formula E

  • “Sustainability and high performance can coexist. It’s about finding the balance.”

The keynote panelists in the morning, and others speaker after them, seemed to distinguish between CSR and Sustainability, for example, Massimo Calvelli referred to the issue of mental health falling under the “CSR strategy” whereas sustainability was, as per his quote above, native to younger gens.

Massimo Calvelli, CEO, ATP 

  • Don’t worry about being criticised for lecturing, “I worry more about the possible backlash from not taking action.”

Sail GP Purpose and Impact Report:

IOC takes a 4-year baseline to measure its carbon emissions incorporate both Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Fiona Morgan, SailGP

On incorporating innovative sustainability partnerships into commercial activities: “Sport sponsorship is dead. The old way of working is dead.”

Lee Spivak, WM, Senior Manager

  • “Brands are thirsty to partner with purpose-led organisations now.”

Julie Duffus, IOC, Sustainability Senior Manager 

Ways of bringing internal recognition and buy-in for sustainability:

  • ‘Breakfast and learn’
  • Identifying and labelling champions
  • Mainstreaming sustainability
  • Continual engagement
  • Showcasing best practices
  • Creating competition

Jaime McKeown, Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, World Rugby

  • “It’s not called plagiarism anymore, is it. We now call it adopting best practice.” 🤭

Sorry, can’t remember who said this…! 

  • “You have to ask yourself questions such as, how are you picking your location, your suppliers, your sponsors? Are you choosing somewhere that requires people to drive 40km to the event once you fly in?”

Julie Duffus, IOC, Sustainability Senior Manager 

  • On the issue of Fan travel, “We’ve looked at sustainable aviation fuel, and it’s not acceptable to sit back and wait for developments to happen in this space. We need to assume that we don’t have the time.”

Jaz Rabadia MBE, Just Eat 

  • “We’ve moved from CSR – which was a bit fluffy – to ESG, meaning that now we’re going to be measured.”
  • “Collaboration not competition. There shouldn’t be any competition involved in saving the planet.”

Rafael Muela Pastor, General Manager, Real Betis Balompie Foundation

  • “It’s undeniable that through sustainability you are adding value to your brand.” 
  • A personal thought that came up when I was listening to this panel: “I wonder if ‘cause marketing’ is still a ‘thing’ or if it’s now been swallowed up by sustainability, which itself is being embraced by marketing professionals?”

Sorry, can’t remember who said this…!

  • “Sdg17 is the focal goal, which needs to be embraced in order to most effectively address the others.” 

Roddy Williams, Director, Professional Golf Engagement and Communications, GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf

The Albert – supporting the global Film and TV industry to reduce the environmental impacts of production and to create content that supports a vision for a sustainable future.

Emily Caroe, Communications Director, 11th Hour Racing Team

  • 11th Hour Racing has 1,600 lines of data for the boat, team, etc. to track it’s emissions. 

Roddy Williams, Director, Professional Golf Engagement and Communications, GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf

  • On tracking GHG emissions: “You have to start somewhere. And don’t forget, utility bills can give you a lot of your data.”

MarineShift360 is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool designed specifically for the marine industry to accelerate positive, sustainable changes within the design and manufacturing stages.

The Toolbox: A suite of guides, tools and templates created by 11th Hour Racing Team for the purpose of establishing a sustainability program within any organization, no matter the size or industry sector.

  • “We’re always going to be the bad guys [when resources are diverted from staff because of a sustainable procurement policy].”

I think Chatham House rules prevent me from attributing the above quote. But I think we have to veer away from that mentality. To be fair, though, the person did go on to explain how important it was to get staff on board before decisions are made, which I strongly agree with. 

Bob Ramsak, Head of Sustainability, World Athletics

  • “Event bidders have to demonstrate how they will reach our Gold level standard as of 2024, for the 2027 events.” 

Barbara Silva, Social Responsibility Manager, FIA 

  • “All championship stakeholders need to meet the 14001 standard”

(Disclaimer: this doesn’t make sense – “all stakeholders” – so I’m not sure I heard that one right.)

Last word to this event’s very capable organiser and moderator: 

Claire Poole, Founder and CEO, Sport Positive

  • “Be authentic. That’s the big one for the day.”

And just before signing off, please keep in mind that, the quotes above are accurate to the best of my note scribbling ability. On occasion, I’ve adjusted what I noted down to better interpret the sentiment of the speaker. The main idea of this article, of course, is to share the things that jumped out at me during the day. For full and accurate quotes of everybody involved in the day, I think attendees will be able to view the video recordings shared by the event organiser.

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