The FIS Alpine World Ski Championship 2019 has become the latest major sports event to achieve ISO 20121 certification – and is aiming to be climate neutral.

Åre 2019, the event organiser, achieved the standard following an external audit by the Research Institutes of Sweden after meeting all the environmental, social and economic requirements stipulated by the sustainable event management system.

Becoming the first fossil fuel free World Championships was the flagship sustainability ambition. Although it will just fall short of that goal, the event – which takes place between 4-17 February – is expected to be 80% fossil fuel free after commissioning electric snowmobiles, electric cars and investing in renewable energy.

Difficulties in finding a fossil fuel alternative for gasoline, which will be used by helicopters and some models of snowmobile, ultimately prevented the 100% ambition, said Niklas Carlsson, chief executive of Åre 2019.

“It’s been a big learning process, but we’re really proud of what we’ve done and what we will achieve in this area,” he told SSJ.

“From day one we made the decision that we want to achieve ISO 20121 certification and work with sustainability in a structured way. We have lots of documentation, a code of conduct, and it’s dictated how we work with suppliers and sponsors. It’s been a real strategic focus.”

Åre 2019 chief executive, Niklas Carlsson

However, the sustainability strategy – which was devised by head of sustainability Riikka Rakic – still has the goal of being carbon neutral, with greenhouse gas offsets worth around €70,000 earmarked to balance the 21 tonnes of CO² the competition is expected to generate.

During and after the competition, auditors will visit the site to make sure the organisers are “continuing to walk the talk”.

Other initiatives included sustainable procurement, in which Åre 2019 often selected more expensive options due to their sustainability and human rights credentials, and an “inclusive” volunteer drive with a social responsibility element.

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2019 follows in the footsteps of the London 2012 Olympic Games, UEFA Euro 2016, Formula E and the Roland Garros French Open in achieving ISO 20121 certification.

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