Author: Marc Vallverdú
On March 22, 2023, in Seville, in the Real Betis Balompié Benito Villamarín Stadium, a breakout session was held to present and disseminate the results of the SDG Striker project, organised collaboratively by the European Football For Development Network (EFDN) and Ecoserveis Association. SDG Striker, financed by the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme, is a project aimed at promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations in the football and sports sector.
The session was celebrated during the 19th EFDN Conference and was conceived as a multiplier sport event aimed at engaging with clubs and sports organisations to motivate them to implement actions towards achieving the UN’s SDGs and to replicate the SDG Striker’s pilots that focused on three main topics:
- Substitution of plastic-based artificial turf infill to reduce microplastic pollution.
- Implementation of energy efficiency measures and awareness raising on energy poverty.
- Installation of photovoltaic panels in sports facilities as a renewable energy source.
Clubs from Turkey, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, and the East Asian Football Federation counted among the more than 200 attendees to the event, from which 20 engaged in the survey conducted during the session. The profile of the attendees to the event (project coordinators, corporate social responsibility managers, chief executives, heads of events, etc.) made it an opportunity for the SDG Striker’s consortium to promote the project and its positive results, as well as to provide useful information to interested stakeholders with high decision-making power for them to take steps towards achieving the SDGs in their organisations.
The session presented the goals of the project, the members of the consortium, and the main outputs and communication materials produced. This was the first time that the SDG Striker Practitioner’s Guide on Replicability and Policy Recommendations was presented to the public. The pilot’s presentation was centred around this document, which provides guidelines and tips for the clubs and sports organisations to be able to replicate the sustainability measures and strategies performed by the pilots.
Other project outputs were presented as well, like the SDG Striker Magazine, the Practical Guidelines to Incorporate and Communicate SDGs in the Sports Organisations, and a first approach on the Pilot’s Evaluation Report.
During the session, an interactive survey was performed to gather information on the sustainability goals and barriers of the clubs and to receive feedback on the project and its outcomes. The survey found that a significant part of the attendees did not know about the existence of certain environmental and social issues related to the sports sector. Moreover, it helped to detect a lack of knowledge and tools for the implementation of measures aimed at tackling these issues, highlighting the need for educational and dissemination projects like SDG Striker to provide the sports organisations with the lacking tools and knowledge to identify and tackle sustainability issues.
The lack of funding and the lack of commitment by the sports organisations’ direction board were the two main barriers identified by the attendees to the replication of the pilots’ action. . Therefore, tackling these two limitations identified during the session is key to foster the implementation of SDGs in sports organisations. Projects like SDG Striker, aimed at reaching and increasing awareness of the direction, management, and other key stakeholders in sports organisations, are useful to overcome the barrier of a lack of commitment, which many times is directly related to a lack of knowledge on the topic and on the steps to be taken. On the other side, there exist funding calls organised by the European Union and national and regional governments that can help overcome the economic barriers. For more information on funding, look at the 3rd issue of the SDG Striker magazine.
Finally, very positive feedback was given by the attendees on the project, showing that the multiplier sport event was a success in raising awareness among relevant stakeholders, allowing for the dissemination of the project results, and providing clubs with the tools for the replication of SDG Striker pilots, or at least with a guide on how and where to start.