In the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, on 11 October the platform of the SHARE (SportHub Alliance for Regional development in Europe) initiative of the European Commission (DG EAC) organised a practical workshop on “how sport and physical activity can be made more sustainable and contribute to community efforts to create a greener Europe”. The speakers brought concrete examples and guidelines on how to develop one’s own green strategy and what EU tools and funds can help in this regard.
Serena Pontoglio from the EC's Directorate General for Energy, presented the EU policies in place and gave an insight on potential funding opportunities for sustainable sport infrastructure. The Commission's goal is to gradually transform EU building stocks through the Renovation Wave strategy and action plan and the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in the framework of the EU Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package (zero-emission, more energy efficiency and less consumption). Focusing on funding possibilities, she mentioned existing EU tools, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), Cohesion Policy Funds (ERDF/CF), Horizon Europe and LIFE.
Mike Mc Clure, representing the European Network of Outdoor Sports (ENOS), highlighted the role of grassroots organisations and outdoor sport clubs in mitigating the biodiversity crisis: leaving “no trace”, taking positive actions (i.e., removing trash, cleaning rivers), collaborating with local environmental organisations and advocating at local level. Isabella Burczack, representing the International Cycling Union (UCI), emphasised how bicycle is a catalyst for a greener future and presented UCI sustainability vision. In conclusion, Dirk Van de Wiele, Head of Department 'Sport & Physical Activity' of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, presented the practical example of the sustainable infrastructural renovation of a swimming pool as a case study in the field of green sport infrastructure and the use of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Michael Serneels, policy officer of the Sport Unit of the European Commission, finally drew attention to the importance of outdoor sports as evidenced by the latest Eurobarometer survey.