Surfrider Europe's Green Sport program: a return to sources


The Surfrider Europe community, founded in 1990 by a group of surfers eager to protect the Ocean, has always felt a strong need to preserve its sporting DNA. After gradually expanding to include more diverse water and outdoor sports enthusiasts - who have now fully integrated environmental issues into their practice - Surfrider Europe now wishes to extend this ecological awareness to all European sports structures. The Association believes that sports offer a great opportunity get involved in ecological action, and is thus launching its Green Sports Hub Europe program in Europe.  

The ambition: coordinate European sports structures within a sustainable dynamic

With the Paris Olympic Games fast approaching, sport is becoming a hot topic of conversation. This public attention is a golden opportunity to gather the industry’s stakeholders in a united effort to usher in a green transition suited for the current climate context. With this in mind, the goal of Surfrider Europe’s Green Sports Hub Europe program is to support twelve sports entities that are motivated to adopt an ecological approach (including the Rugby World Europe, the European Volleyball Confederation and the National Olympic Committee of Slovenia). Green Sport is pushing to develop a European platform by 2024 that would facilitate dialogue between all sport entities to better understand their challenges and coordinate new shared environmental sports standards. In particular, this new European alliance would make it easier to guide federations in the organization of sustainable competitions, and to integrate ecological components in sport training so that coaches and players alike can move their practice on the path towards sustainability.  

Environmental projects including sports enthusiasts as well

The launch of Green Sport represents the next step in Surfrider Europe’s mission to develop healthier environmental sporting practices. Over the past fews years, the NGO has actively lead and participated in sport-related projects to protect the Ocean and its users. Among these is the NGO’s campaign to improve bathing water quality in areas where nautical sports are practiced (surfing, bodyboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, etc.) by extending and strengthening the parameters through which these areas are monitored. These demands are publicized in the Manifesto #HealthyWater. Serving as a leading expert for the European Commission, Surfrider Europe is now working on the revision of the bathing water quality directive which is scheduled for 2021.

As change does not happen only as a result of parliamentary decisions, the NGO also strives to strengthen its actions on the field, at the level of each individual sports user. In addition to improving the ecological impact of sporting practice, the Association also encourages citizens to "green" the environment through sport-based scientific initiatives. For example, Surfrider Europe’s Plastic Origins program utilizes river kayaking expeditions to map the flow of waterway pollution to identify problem areas and stop the issue at source. The Echappée Bleue [Blue Break] sailing project is geared towards improving ocean literacy among apprentice skippers and raising awareness on marine litter. Echappée Bleue is a collaboration with champion skipper Paul Meilhat, who is one of the Surfrider Europe's ambassadors, alongside Pauline Ado, Bixente Lizarazu, Greg Penne, Raphaël Filippi, Tony Estanguet and Guillaume Nery. All of these sports personalities are actively involved in protecting the environment and act as personal representatives of Surfrider Europe's values in terms of ‘Sport and sustainability’. 

Finally, since the long term ambition is to include all stakeholders in European sport, from small community clubs to big sports industries, Surfrider Europe is supporting a number of initiatives sponsored by public or private actors. It is notably a partner of the “Sport Planète” [Planet Sport] programme set up by the MAIF, a mutual insurance company in favor of eco-responsible sport which insures 25,000 sports associations and around 30 federations or leagues. It also acts alongside the Parisian Climate Agency and the City of Paris which, through the "Zero Plastic Sport" project, seek to mobilize Parisian amateur sport clubs and organizations in the fight against plastic waste. 

"Calling the shots: Sports and the European Green evolution": a conference to engage European sports actors in an ecological impetus

In view of its commitments, it naturally follows that Surfrider Europe has been mandated by the French Ministry of Sports to organize the upcoming conference, "Calling the shots: Sports and the European Green evolution". This event will take place online on May 25 and 26 and is open to the public. It is the first of its kind at European level and will provide an opportunity to carry out a preliminary diagnosis of the dynamics of "green sport" and to encourage its development within the various Member States of the Union. In order to be as inclusive as possible, the conference, organized in English, will also be translated into French and international signs.

Hosted by sports journalist Anne-Laure Bonnet, it will bring together many actors from various horizons in European sport, including the French Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, and several representatives from the European Parliament, the sports industry, major sports organizations and environmental sport NGOs, as well as committed athletes such as swimmer Théo Curin and trail runner Kilian Jorne. Each one of them will speak on the need for green sport and on the need for the sports sector to adapt to climate change. 


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