L’Édito Sport

Michael Green – Director Brand Experience

In the afterglow of the UN climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26), the global headlines have reverted to COVID restrictions and more short-term worries. Of course sport too is impacted by COVID, but the real story is that at COP26 there were more discussions around sport and climate change than ever before. One big topic was the existential threat to sport, whether that be the flooding of football grounds in Europe, typhoon-hit cricket pitches in India or wildfire devastation in Australia and California. As we come into the alpine ski season and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics  there’s also the stark reality that winter sports are quite difficult to practice when the snow and ice disappear.

One of the many side conferences held in Glasgow was Sport@COP. Masterminded by Madeline Orr and Aileen McManamon, it asked a different question. Rather than looking at how sport will be affected, it asked how sport can drive change and inspire action. In an era where the terms « greenwashing » and « sportswashing » have entered almost every dictionary, Sport@COP focussed on what brands, rights holders and practitioners can be doing to make a difference. Not just pledges and promises of where they will be in 2030 or 2050, but what they can do today. 

Sport has the power to change the world

Nelson Mandela

Pre-empting the sceptics, the Sport@COP team partnered with Laureus, a sports organisation that counted Nelson Mandela among its original patrons.  To coincide with COP26, they released the inaugural Laureus Sport for Good Index, which digs deep into the work of 29 brands that make a measurably positive impact through sport. In an arena which attracts much critical attention, they proved that stakeholders can be measured and can be held to account. We were happy to see that among brands like Patagonia and Oatly, the French energy company ENGIE also made the final cut. Hopefully as we prepare to welcome the Rugby World Cup and The Olympic Games, more French brands will shine. 

Sport is powerful and transnational, a  springboard to role models & brands that inspire more trust than most politicians and wield more influence than ever before. Thankfully, Paris 2024 looks like it is responding to this climate change challenge and setting the bar high for itself and its partners. Through our work with the federations, brands, athletes and the French sports industry as a whole, we look forward to being part of this future.

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