A Practical Guide to Hosting Radically Responsible Events
It’s hard to ignore all the news of seasonal weather anomalies, wildfires, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, and scientists’ siren calls to protect and restore the planet before it’s too late. The massive growth of the global population and demand for natural resources has made sustainable development the central challenge of the 21st Century, and one that crosses all domains.
Evidence of humanity’s current unsustainability is abundant: the prevalence of plastics in the ocean, the depletion of natural resource stocks such as forest timber and fisheries, 35 percent of all food is wasted along its journey from the farm to the fridge. The list goes on and on, but the clearest evidence of global unsustainability is the warming of the global average temperature causing climate destabilization.
We sometimes forget that all these dynamics in play are interrelated by the fact that they’re happening here and now on Earth, the only planet known to support biotic life. For example, 2019 was the fifth consecutive year in which ten or more weather events caused a billion or more dollars in damage in the United States1alone. This trend has serious ramifications for the places those extreme events occur, the people who call those places home, and the economy at every scale.
A growing awareness of the precarious state of the world has resulted in many people adopting or becoming willing to adopt behaviors that are more efficient, less wasteful, less polluting, more equitable, healthier, and generally more responsible.
In the sports events sector, responsibility indicates decision-making that is defensible socially, environmentally and financially. This concept is often referred to as the ‘triple bottom line’ as opposed to the conventional single ‘bottom line’ of financial profitability.
One of the primary questions with regards to events being agents of social and environmental responsibility then becomes—what’s left when the event is over? What resources have been used? What has been created or otherwise has changed, where, and for whom? Leading responsible events will answer those questions with ever-greater precision in ways their communities embrace.
The ten radically responsible things events do proposed here are based on ten years of observation and evaluation of many of the leading socially and environmentally aware events in the U.S. and beyond by the Council for Responsible Sport and the many events that have embraced it. The word radical stems from the Latin for ‘root,’ indicating getting down to the bottom of things. Radically responsible events, then, are committed to re-thinking their very structures in order to best align with what they most value about their communities and places.
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