Hey Jonny, nice to e-meet you, thanks for your question.
To be quite honest, going through the budget, charter and concept for the UEFA EURO 2012 sustainability project, I realised that there had been a lack of leadership on this topic within the operations division. I felt that there was room for improvement – a rare opportunity with such a massive sports event. Moreover, this field really corresponded to my values.
The first EURO to incorporate an integrated UEFA-led social responsibility strategy was UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. Great initiatives were developed, such as the combi-ticket, which allowed fans and certain accredited people to travel free of charge on public transport (even between the two countries) around the time of the match.
Once the project concept was in place for UEFA EURO 2016, the real turning point was when I produced a SWOT analysis in preparation for an application for ISO 2012 1 certification (i.e. certification under a standard for sustainable event management) and presented it to Martin Kallen and EURO 2016 SAS president Jacques Lambert. What I floated as a crazy thought was then presented a few days later in the UEFA EURO 2016 steering group in front of high-level political representatives from the French government and the host cities. That left me with just over a year to deliver ISO 2012 1 certification, when the organisers of the 2012 Olympics in London had spent seven years working on it with far more human and financial resources at their disposal.
I was fortunate to be able to count on the assistance of a consultant and two interns. Numerous stakeholders were involved, including Quantis, who assisted with our event’s environmental and life cycle assessment, and the audit partners who worked on our GRI-compliant Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. In addition, expert NGOs were consulted on social and environmental initiatives. Lastly, in order to ensure that experts on every aspect of event management were involved, more than 50 sustainability champions drawn from the various functional areas of UEFA EURO 2016 added an extra dimension to the project.
The UEFA FSR (Football Social Responsibility) Team had laid strong foundations and pillars, for us to bring the UEFA Events Operations team to the next level during UEFA EURO 2016.