“We are at risk of losing the spaces we need to play and watch what we love most”

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Sheila Nguyen is the Executive Director at the Sports Environment Alliance in Australia.

She recently spoke with Climate Action’s Melina Diamantopoulou about how to usher in sustainability within the world of sport.

Melina Diamantopoulou: Could you tell us about and what are the latest sustainable initiatives your organisation has put in place?

Sheila Nguyen: We are an industry alliance and are represented by a number of incredible leaders who are doing so many fantastic actions to minimise their eco-footprint. Their initiatives demonstrate courage and are setting the pace for the industry as well as the communities who are influenced by them. The Melbourne Cricket Club invests in its future through water management solutions and setting progressive enviro conscientious venue material policies, completely motivated by the return of a cleaner future; whilst the Victoria Racing Club, home of the Melbourne Cup, has committed to smart material management, successfully achieving 97% diversion rate. There are so many other brilliant stories of the courage shown in Australasia and we need to share them.

MD: Could you tell us a bit more about your work and projects?

SN: The Sports Environment Alliance is a proud two and a half years old; working hard to create a fierce, proud and loud group of eco leaders, pace setters, and game changers. In our year one, we were focused on raising the public and industry awareness that, 'yes’ the sport industry should and could care about the environment, and to convince our communities that our natural environment is inextricably linked to our business. It is an absolute truism that: Without clean air, water and a 'trash free' natural environment, we put ourselves at risk of losing the spaces and places we need to play and watch what we love most, sport. Year two, and as we enter year three, we are interested in the 'spread of good work' through membership growth, encouraging eco-action, and supporting our alliance and our 'extended family' of #SEAChangers in their respective paths in being more engaged and doing more to reduce our negative impact. Our work manifests as sharing knowledge through case studies and events, and through these events and the enviro global family, we support the growth of the family. Through knowing more and being better supported, our members can do more good.

MD: What do you see as the key requirements for an orderly and efficient move to a lower carbon footprint in the sports industry?

SN: As many take wayward paths to betterment, 'orderly' and 'efficient' may not necessarily be part of the equation, but certainly, there are key elements to consider when thinking about how to minimise our industry's footprint. Three key things we believe are necessary in this 'journey' are: 1. Measure so you can manage, 2. Kick one goal at a time, and, 3. Capture the low hanging fruit.

Yes, these are well known maxims, but they are robust, they work and they 100% are the necessary requirements to us playing an active role in contributing to a healthy and clean future.

To read the full interview, visit the Sustainable Innovation in Sport website.

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