The IOC sustainability report: the objectives achieved in 2017-2020

by Chiara Aruffo

Last week, the IOC published its sustainability report for the four-year period 2017-2020. In this second part, we look at the objectives achieved.

On 6th December, the IOC published its third sustainability report, which outlines the objectives achieved in 2017-2020 and defines the new priorities for 2021-2024. In this first in-depth article, we explain the context of the report and how it fits into the IOC’s sustainability strategy. In this second article, we look at what has been done over the past four years. Of the 18 objectives set, 15 have been achieved and the remaining three are to be completed in the next four years.

Objectives in the 2017-2020 four-year period

The Sustainability Plan for the four-year period 2017-2020 included 18 objectives, of which 15 have been achieved, 2 partially achieved and have been included in the 2021-2024 strategy, while one remains open mainly due to the situation regarding COVID-19.

Objectives achieved as an IOC as an Organization

Design and build the Olympic House aiming at obtaining national and international sustainability certifications: the Olympic House was inaugurated in spring 2019 and obtained the three main international certificates.

Increase the energy efficiency of the facilities: the work focused on the Olympic House and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne (Switzerland), and the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS)/Olympic Channel Services (OCS) buildings.

Reduce the amount of waste: in particular plastic, food, electronic waste, waste from events and paper publications.

Reducing the impact of IOC travel: no flights for trips under 4 hours, incentives for daily sustainable mobility (bike parking, preferential parking for carpooling). As the biggest impacts are due to travel disruption from COVID-19, this target is maintained for the next four years.

Increase the diversity of staff, especially in terms of gender and geographical origin

Promote an active and healthy lifestyle to IOC staff: numerous incentives are offered such as sports activities, nutritional advice, and psychological support. The COVID-19 has also helped to increase flexibility in working hours and location.

Achieving carbon neutrality by reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting them where necessary: this was achieved thanks to the IOC-Dow global carbon mitigation project but also to the interruption of travel due to COVID-19.

The Olympic House in Lausanne (credits IOC).

Objectives achieved as IOC as Owner of the Olympic Games

– Ensure that sustainability is a strategic priority in bidding processes: the first bidding process that followed this approach was the bidding for 2024 Olympic Games.

– Strengthen sustainability commitments in the Host City Contract so that the Olympic Games are a catalyst for sustainable development for the host city and the surrounding region.

– Strengthen support and monitoring of the Organizing Committees’ sustainability commitments by sharing common methodologies and external assessments

– Facilitate communication and build strategic partnerships (IOC, Organizing Committees, Host Cities) to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for the Olympic Games

Objectives as IOC as Leader of the Olympic Movement

One of the five guides of the Sustainability Essentials series (credits IOC).

– Facilitating the exchange of information and good practices within the Olympic Movement: the IOC published five thematic guides within the Sustainability Essentials series

– Facilitating access to external organizations for the development of guidelines and innovative solutions: an example is the collaboration with the United Nations

– Leveraging Olympic solidarity to support National Olympic Committees in implementing sustainability initiatives

Define the role of the Olympic Movement regarding sustainability through the aggregation and publication of information

Objectives Partially Achieved

Integrating sustainability into procurement of resources and services: progress has been slower than expected. Human rights due diligence process has started for IOC’s uniform supplier.

– Organize an ambassador program with the involvement of athletes to raise awareness of sustainability among the general public

Objectives that will continue in the future

– Include sustainability in corporate events: COVID-19 has cancelled most of the events for which official ISO 20121 certification has been postponed. This objective will in any case remain as a commitment in the future.

Cover picture: IOC

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