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The International Olympic Committee highlights fresh targets for sustainable licensing and merchandising in new report

Tue 07 Dec 2021 | 09:56 am GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

The IOC has set out 17 new sustainability targets for the 2021 to 2024 period

Official partnerships and licensing has been highlighted among a list of 17 new sustainability objectives for the three year period of 2021 to 2024 by the International Olympic Committee who has raised its commitments once more with a focus on climate, biodiversity, and the circular economy as well as the advancement of sustainability across the Olympic Movement. The new objectives have been detailed to coincide with the release of its latest Sustainability Report just this week, a conclusion of the 15 objectives the Committee has achieved for the period 2017 to 2020, out of the 18 that it had set out. Among those achieved within that time frame is the completion of the IOC’s new headquarters, Olympic House, which has now been recognised as one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. The IOC has also achieved carbon neutrality between 2017 and 2020, thanks to the IOC-Dow global carbon mitigation programme. Within its role as the owner of the Olympic Games, the IOC has also seen success so far in ensuring that sustainability is addressed as a strategic topic with cities from the earliest stages of the Future Host process, while reinforcing sustainability commitments in the Host Contract, which incudes guidelines for all upcoming Games editions to be carbon neutral and climate positive from 2030 onwards. “We can confidently state that sustainability is now firmly embedded as an executive priority within the IOC, and this ethos flows into our corporate ways of working, our focus on ensuring sustainable Olympic Games, and how we engage wit the wider Olympic Movement,” writes HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Chair of the IOC’s Sustainability and Legacy Commission. As a result of the success the Committee has seen in its sustainability measures over the 2017 to 2020 period, the IOC is now taking those commitments to the next level. It has now set out the goal of reducing its carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, and become climate positive by the end of 2024 – meaning it will aim to remove more carbon from the air than it emits. From 2030, all Olympic Games will be required to be climate positive too. Integral to this commitment is the creation of an Olympic Forest as part of Africa’s Great Green Wall, while the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework was co-launched in 2018 by the IOC and UN Climate Change and has so far seen almost 300 signatories. They are now required by UN Climate Change to reduce their carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.
The report has highlighted the efforts being made among the IOC's climate positive commitment.
Mainstreaming Sustainability Sustainability has now also become further integrated into the process for selecting future hosts of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Both the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 have sustainability at the centre of their Games concepts. Meanwhile, the IOC is working to advance the sharing of information across the sports world with the production of a series of guidance documents on topics including carbon footprinting, sustainable sourcing, and biodiversity. The IOC has also supported the Global Association of International Sports Federations in the launch of the Sustainability.Sport platform which has been developed to be used as a library by sports organisations. The IOC’s Sustainability Objectives 2021 to 2024 Of the 17 new objectives, four relate to the IOC as an organisation, and cover carbon emissions, the Olympic Forest, sustainable sourcing and training for IOC staff. They include work on reducing the IOC’s CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, with a 30 per cent reduction by 2024. There are also five objectives for the Olympic Games, which focus on climate, biodiversity, human rights, and sustainable tourism,. These include assisting and accelerating the transition to climate-positive Olympic Games and a requirement that no permanent Olympic construction occurs in statutory nature and cultural protected areas or UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Finally, the eight objectives in the IOC’s role as leader of the Olympic Movement include working with the Ifs to have a sustainability strategy in place by 2024; assisting the International Federations and National Olympic Committees in joining the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, and working with athletes and other role models within the sports world to raise awareness about sustainability. What does this mean for partnership and licensees? Among its 17 new objectives for 2021 to 2024, the IOC has detailed a new goal to ensure that the IOC Sustainable Sourcing Guidelines are ‘fully implemented across its supply chain’, while promoting “respectful, sober, circular and regenerative models.” To measure this, the IOC has stated that it will be looking for ‘evidence of a formal process in place to assess commercial deals according to their environmental and social risks and opportunities.’ It states that it will also work to ‘apply the relevant level of due diligence, engagement, and verification to conventional suppliers, official licensees, and commercial partners.’ The goal has been set out in recognition that within its 2017 to 2021 framework, its target to integrate sustainability in the sourcing of goods and services, including from Worldwide Olympic Partners and official licensees was only partially achieved. The IOC has admitted that progress in this field ‘has been slower than anticipated’ and will require more ‘intensive efforts in relation to training buyers across all departments and increasing engagement with the TOP partners. “Sustainability evaluations of new suppliers and products have been conducted to support the IOC Licensing and Product Development team with the launch of the Olympic Collection,” read a statement from the Sustainability Report. “Priority attention has been given to branded sport equipment and merchandising. We have also initiated human rights due diligence of the IOC’s uniform supplier.” HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for people to live, work, and play in a more sustainable manner. The Olympic Games – and sport in general – can play a powerful role in defining how we recover from the crisis. “It is our collective responsibility to leverage this power and continue to adapt, to address global issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and human rights, it is imperative that we remain open to change and innovation.”
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