GAMES project celebrates half-way at Making Sport Sustainable Conference

As a partner of the GAMES Erasmus+ project, the IBU co-organised the Making Sport Sustainable Conference held in Oslo at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH). The IBU and NIH signed a cooperation agreement in 2023, with the conference marking the first initiative under the partnership.

The conference was held to share insights and discussions at the midway point of the 30-month GAMES (Green Approaches in Management for Enhancing Sport) decarbonising sport project. The IBU is one of the main contributors to the project along with World Athletics, the International Floorball Federation and Swedish Floorball Federation as they work together to explore how their respective sports can lessen their impact on climate change.

The importance of top-down integration

The conference was opened by Tiberio Daddi Associate, Professor at the project’s technical partner, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, who reflected on the project’s objectives and key findings including the need for sports organisations to expand beyond carbon footprint and evaluate their full environmental impact.

IBU Head of Sustainability Riikka Rakic was joined by World Athletics Head of Sustainability Bob Ramsak, Sales Coordinator at International Floorball Federation Tero Kalsta, and PhD researcher at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies Alessio Novi on the first of the conference’s panels on ‘Embedding Sustainability in Sports Governance’.

Speaking about the importance of sustainability being integrated from the top down, Rakic said:

In biathlon we are lucky that the commitment to sustainability started from the top level. In 2019 the IBU approved a new Constitution and new Strategic Plan, Target 26. It was approved by all IBU members who agreed that sustainability is something we all care about and want to implement. Our Target 2030 plan also includes an overall sustainability objective and sustainability is even a key underlying principle for the IBU’s entire strategic framework.

“But the IBU is not a directly an event organiser. As event hosts, our National Federations and Organising Committees need to help us implement the sustainability principles and ideals we have. We need all the levels of sports governance to work together to ensure we become truly sustainable.”

All panellists agreed on the importance of having buy-in at the Board level. It was also discussed how sports organisations can motivate Organising Committees to implement sustainable practices and whether there needs to be consequences for those who do not follow them.

Sustainable Operations at Sports Events

Stefan Marx, CEO of the IBU World Cup Holmenkollen, and Gunhild Kvistad, Vice President of the Norwegian Biathlon Union, shared their insights and perspectives as event organisers on the next panel ‘Sustainable Operations at Sports Events’. They were joined by Amanda Emet, a coordinator at the World Floorball Championships 2024 in Malmö, Sweden; Steinar Hoen, director of the Bislett Games, a World Athletics Diamond League meet in Oslo; and Alessio Novi.

Marx explained that the greatest environmental reduction is done through their work with Oslo Municipality and the suppliers delivering sustainable solutions in terms of energy use and mobility. One example of this was how finding a supplier of foldable wax cabins has reduced emissions by 80% as it means more cabins can be transported in one go, reducing mobility impacts.

Kvistad emphasised that as a National Federation they look to the work of the IBU and have developed their own sustainability strategy. Mobility and food are the main focus areas this year and Kvistad described how they have tried to reduce the impact of the Norwegian Cups and how their World Cup teams are setting an example in using more sustainable travel.

Panellists Chris Horbel, Professor at Norwegian School of Sport Sciences; Josephine Traberg, PhD researcher at Norwegian School of Sport Sciences; and Gabrielle Bjørnstad-Northern, General Secretary of Norwegian Triathlon Federation addressed sport and sustainability on a local Norwegian perspective in the final panel of the day.

The conference concluded with Ørnulf Seippel from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences reflecting on emerging research and how climate knowledge must transition to climate action.

For more information on the GAMES Erasmus+ project co-funded by the European Union, please visit

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