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Sustainability ISO certification for UEFA EURO 2016

UEFA EURO 2016's approach to social responsibility and sustainability has earned it the International Standardisation Organisation's ISO 20121 certification for operations.

UEFA aims to ensure that UEFA EURO 2016 leaves a positive long-term legacy
UEFA aims to ensure that UEFA EURO 2016 leaves a positive long-term legacy ©UEFA

UEFA EURO 2016's approach to social responsibility and sustainability has earned the International Standardisation Organisation's ISO 20121 certification for operations at the tournament in France.

A thorough auditing process was performed by SGS, a leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company that also audited the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the Roland-Garros tennis tournament in Paris.

"It is with great pride that we obtain the ISO 20121 certification for UEFA EURO 2016 ─ something that sets a high standard for tournaments and competitions to come," said UEFA Events SA CEO Martin Kallen. "Football events on such a scale have a significant economic, social and environmental impact. Therefore, it is important to establish a sustainability management system, and make it an integral part of the event. This is just the beginning. We have improved a lot, but still have room for progress."

Both UEFA and its organisational partner EURO 2016 SAS have implemented a committed and innovative strategy for EURO 2016, which builds on previous initiatives put in place at the final tournaments in 2008 and 2012.

ISO 20121 is a management system standard designed to help organisations in the events industry improve the sustainability of event-related activities, products and services by pursuing objectives including financial success, sound social responsibility strategies and activities, and reduction of environmental footprints.

Sustainability refers to the manner in which an efficient and effective organisation runs its operations. The objective of UEFA and EURO 2016 SAS has been to take sustainability into account along every step of its planning and implementation processes.

A comprehensive strategy, implemented at the heart of tournament operations and featuring numerous measures, has contributed to ISO 20121 certification. For example, spectators are not only being encouraged to use public transport to stadiums, as is also the case with UEFA officials for journeys of up to four and a half hours, but they are also being provided with an 'eco-calculator', so they can find out for themselves the impact in terms of CO² emissions of their travels to and around France. Consequently, they can offset their emissions, as UEFA officials and all 24 participating national associations are doing.

New initiatives have been developed, such as carpooling and taxi-sharing options, to optimise mobility. On the waste management side, circular thinking has been implemented in order to reduce the amount of waste, reuse the materials when possible, and eventually recycle. A highlight is the Foot For Food initiative where, in full respect of health rules, food surpluses are being redistributed through the Banque Alimentaire network at all ten venues in France, as well as at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Paris. For example, more than 37,000 sandwiches have been redistributed to various NGOs so far.

Energy and water consumption have been optimised, while renewable energy solutions have also been promoted. Responsible supply chain management has been an important development, which has led to EURO 2016 SAS following the UN Global Compact initiative and asking its suppliers to commit to a set of ten principles.

Other actions include various programmes promoting respect on and off the field through the Celebrate Football campaign, the monitoring and recording of incidents of discrimination at matches, and ensuring total accessibility to games for disabled spectators. In addition, the UEFA EURO 2016 stadiums are tobacco-free. The Respect Fan Culture initiative is likewise proving a positive way to interact with fans, notably through fan embassies within the host cities.

UEFA's overall strategy aims to ensure that the month-long tournament in France leaves a positive long-term legacy, not only for France and its EURO host venues, but also for UEFA itself.

UEFA intends to use and expand the knowledge gained at UEFA EURO 2016 in its other European competitions, and to transmit this invaluable expertise among its 55 member associations. A report after the tournament will examine the successes achieved and lessons learned, as well as areas for further improvement.