IBU aims to accelerate pace of change with IBU Sustainability Seminar

The IBU today hosted the IBU Sustainability Seminar on the sidelines of the BMW IBU World Championships Biathlon Oberhof 2023 as it looks to drive further progress in the implementation of sustainable practices across the biathlon family.

The Seminar entitled ‘From Energy Efficiency to Long-Term Decarbonisation‘ was organised by the IBU in partnership with the German Ski Federation (DSV) and Oberhof 2023 and provided an opportunity to review the current state of progress and explore the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The Seminar was moderated by Matthew Campelli, editor of The Sustainability Report, and began with a keynote address by Dr Sven Kotlarski, a Climate Scientist at the Swiss Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology, outlined based on undisputable scientific facts that today’s generations are the ones who decide with their behaviour what kind of winters there will be in the future: “Every ton of CO2 emissions counts,” said Kotlarski, concluding: “Time is running out to achieve global temperature targets…Snow sports are heavily challenged, sustainable strategies are needed.”

Panelists Rikard Grip, Secretary General of the Swedish National Federation; Dr Hartmut Schubert, Chairman of the ZV-TWZ Region; Robert Portmann, Head of Wintersport, EBU; and Lilli Schmitt Sustainability Manager at the DSV looked at the work done to date. It was discussed that progress has been done by biathlon stakeholders with some having found opportunities to gain efficiencies and reduce energy consumption by up to 20%.

Rikard Grip said: “The pandemic has taught us that we also need to invest in facilities for our athletes to be able to stay at home to train, rather than travelling for training camps abroad. We are working on a holistic strategy for the federation to consider our overall impact, not just our events. Sports have a big impact on society. We have to be able to stand behind what we are doing, both acknowledging our position as role models and admitting that we cannot change everything about our sport at this moment.”

IBU Sustainability Athlete Ambassadors Adam Runnalls (CAN) and Thierry Langer (BEL) were joined by Kaisa Mäkäräinen (FIN), former biathlon world champion and now member of the IBU Technical Committee, in a Q&A with the athletes to discuss whether enough was being done in sustainability.

The final panel discussion of the day was centred on what concrete opportunities and options there are for further change. Sustainability experts Marlen Marconi, President of Snowstainability; Benjamin Poetz, representing IBU’s Snow Tech partner TechnoAlpin; and Tiberio Daddi, Associate Professor in Sustainability Management at Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, were joined by Torsten Stark, Head of Wintersport at Viessmann, and Tim Holzmüller, Spokesperson for BMW Group Sport Engagement, Real Estate.

Discussions looked at how energy saving needs to be accompanied by decarbonisation measures, which focus on a transition away from high-carbon fuels to renewable energy. The Seminar was concluded by IBU Secretary General Max Cobb who looked at the roadmap to 2030 and called on all biathlon stakeholders to work together. The IBU, through its Sustainability Strategy, has made ambitious climate commitments including becoming climate neutral by 2030 and net zero in 2040.

The Sustainability Seminar is co-funded by the European Union under the GAMES Erasmus+ project (https://erasmus-games.com/) which seeks to raise awareness and increase the adoption of climate change mitigation practices, in particular decarbonisation, by key sports actors in order to improve sustainability at sports events.

Photo: IBU/Manzoni

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