With a new Sustainability page on the ENOS website reflecting the strength of its environmental actions, it seemed necessary to detail the network’s commitments in this area. In this article, ENOS President Mike McClure discusses the organisation’s environmental focus.

The President of ENOS, member of the European Commission’s Sustainability Expert Group

Under the European Work Plan for Sport 2021–2024, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel established an expert group on Green Sports. The expert group’s objectives are best-practice exchange, knowledge-building and, awareness raising.  

The key deliverable of the Green Sport Expert Group will be the “Elaboration of a proposal for a common framework with shared commitments, taking into account the European climate pact”. As part of this work, which may feed into a Council Resolution on a Green Deal for sport, ENOS applied to be an observer in the group – as only the member state ministries can be members of expert groups. However, being an observer is not at all a passive role. On the contrary, ENOS is very involved in a number of the working groups for the different chapters being developed including:

“In terms of this 3rd working group the main work is being undertaken by observers who are involved in the European Phyiscal Activity Alliance (Europe Active, FESI and ENOS) along with IJPT from Portugal (who are also involved with ENOS)” explain Mike McClure, president of the European Network of Outdoor Sports.

ENOS, signatory of the United Nations Climate Charter

In addition to its involvement at the European level, the ENOS Network is committed to the global level. It is a signatory of the UNFCCC Charter set up by the United Nations. Through its section “Sport for Climate Action”, this document aims to support the actors of the sector in achieving their environmental objectives. In fact, it encourages sports organisations to come together in specific working groups to jointly develop a real climate action programme for the sector.

In the long run, the ambition is to set a clear trajectory, strengthen commitments and develop partnerships that enable the global sport community to fight – with a focus on reducing greenhouse gases. In addition, this charter is a good way to recognise and use sport as a unifying tool, uniting citizens around the world for climate action. In order to meet these objectives, organisations are asked to meet certain requirements. While some organisations are ahead of the game and share their best practices with others via a sharing platform, all must adhere to a set of five principles, summarised as follows:

Since 2021, when it signed this charter, ENOS has created a sustainability working group to focus on its sustainable work. So, “the working group are focused on these issues and will be taking forward plans to deliver as effectively as possible on them. The working group has now established a mechanism to measure and monitor our impacts and we are seeking to go beyond being net zero but rather focusing on being carbon positive by supporting biodiversity development. The SEE project is a very concrete example of how we are promoting education on the topic” clarifies Mike McClure.

He doesn’t forget, however, to point out that there are still many challenges to meeting such ambitions : “One of the greatest challenges for a network operating across Europe is in relation to mobility. While online mechanisms have been extremely helpful – there is still something very valuable about in person meetings and networking that cannot be achieved on line. Seeking to minimise our impacts by travelling overland as much as possible is the aim but not always easily viable. The other challenge is that we are still a relatively small network but are seeking to grow – so it is difficult to reduce impact while growing at the same time”.

Within ENOS itself, a group of experts on sustainability

In addition to its commitments on the European and international scene, ENOS is also committed through the creation of its own sustainability group.The sustainability group was started at the end of 2021 and very much in response to our commitments for the UNFCCC charter but also to consider how we implement our policy position on the European Green Dealcontinues the president of the European Network of Outdoor Sports.

To date, ENOS has been focused on developing a robust mechanism to measure and monitor its carbon impacts. That has been completed and now the organisation is looking for a mechanism to offset and enhance this carbon impacts. “Another focus area that will be taken forward in the coming year is to look at the whole issue of mobility and create some guidance for the outdoor sports sector on this topic. We are also very keen to develop a project that will concretely put in place a pilot for one of our key recommendations under the green deal policy position on enhanced biodiversity corridors between communities that also support greater levels of physical activity” adds Mike McClure.

ENOS, a network put at the forefront of environmental issues for the outdoor sector

All these efforts and commitments to the environment lead to the strengthening of ENOS as a key environmental player in the outdoor sports sector. This is what Mike McClure, its president, is particularly pleased about: “We believe that the combination of the work that the sustainability group is doing aligned with our partnerships with EUROPARC federation and the European Outdoor Group and IGOT and also the SEE project puts ENOS at the forefront of environmental issues for the outdoor sector. It is important however to reinforce our policy position that sustainability itself is not tenable – we need to consider restoration and enhancement of our natural resources as the environment has become so depleted. These are exciting times and topics for ENOS to be involved with and I feel very privileged to chair a network where we have such dedicated and professional members committed to the environmental issues”. A commitment that should, moreover, be increasingly strong and widespread…