GSB News and Notes: GreenSports Firsts From World Bank, Atlantic Cup and Forest Green Rovers


With Wrigley Field set to host its first World Series contest in 71 years tonight when the Cubs take on the Cleveland Indians in Game 3, it seems appropriate to deliver a TGIF GreenSportsBlog focused on a trio of firsts: The World Bank is getting involved in the Green-Sports world for the first time. The Atlantic Cup sailing race, carbon neutral since 2012 (a first for the US!), earns another important first. And, the greenest team in sports, at least according to GreenSportsBlog, Forest Green Rovers FC, looks to increase its hold on first place in the 5th division of English football (soccer).


Headquartered in Washington, DC, the World Bank is an international financial nonprofit that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs, with the goal of ending extreme poverty in the world by 2030. It sees climate change as being in direct conflict with that goal; a recent World Bank report, Shock Waves: Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Poverty, warned that without rapid action, climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030.

The bank played a key role in last December’s COP21 global climate conference in Paris that led to the landmark global accord (“The Paris Agreement”), negotiated by representatives of 195 countries, dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation to climate change and finance starting in 2020. As of this month, enough countries (191) had ratified the agreement (including the USA and the countries of the EU) that produce enough of the world’s greenhouse gases for the agreement to enter into force. It takes effect on November 4.

But COP21 was just the beginning, albeit an important one, in this concerted global climate change effort. That fight continues with COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7-18, at which the nations of the world will push each other on implementation of the Paris Agreement and to go beyond it—which will be crucial if the world is serious about limiting temperature rise since the pre-industrial era to 1.5° C.

With Marrakech in mind, the World Bank is turning to athletes to build awareness of, and interest in the climate change fight. It recently announced it will engage more than one hundred Olympic and Paralympic athletes globally to launch an aggressive climate change-fighting social media campaign, as part of the Sport4Climate program in advance of the Marrakech conference. Sport4Climate is one of eight major initiatives (others include Music4Climate, Film4Climate, and Youth4Climate) under the Connect4Climate banner, a global partnership program between the World Bank, the Italian Ministry of Environment, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. that takes on climate change by promoting solutions and empowers people to act (currently more than 1 million worldwide) through social media.

In addition to social media, a number of Sport4Climate athletes will be in Marrakech to challenge the international community to go beyond Paris and accelerate negotiations in order to make sure the 1.5° C target for average global temperature rise is a ceiling, not a floor. This follows on the high profile efforts of Sport4Climate at the Rio Olympics via its 1.5° C: The Record We Must Not Break campaign.


Sport4Climate Champion pro-surfer Marina Werneck (c) promotes “1.5° C: The Record We Must Not Break” at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo credit: World Bank)



This summer’s Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing became the first sports event in the United States to be ISO 20121 compliant.  

You may be saying to yourself “Why should I care?”

Here’s why: ISO 20121 is a rigorous event management system standard/protocol that was designed to assist event producers improve the sustainability of their activities and productions. The international version of the standard was developed for the London 2012 Olympics, generally regarded as the Cadillac of sustainable mega sports events. Carbon neutral since 2012, the Atlantic Cup, an offshore Class 40 sailing race from Charleston, SC to Brooklyn to Portland, ME, was the first in the US to follow the ISO 20121 protocol and comply with its standards.

“We are proud to be leading the way in environmental sustainability for sailing events around the world,” said race director Hugh Piggin, “to achieve carbon neutrality and ISO 20121 compliance…while educating both kids and the general public about the role they can play in protecting our oceans and planet is no small feat.”


Hugh Piggin, Race Director of the Atlantic Cup Presented by 11th Hour Racing. (Photo credit: Manuka Sports & Entertainment)

I suspect other, more high profile US sports events will go the ISO 20121 compliance route (a very good thing); it is a great thing that a small-but-growing, committed, forward-thinking event like the Atlantic Cup took the first step.



The English soccer season is about one third complete so it’s too early to get too excited about a team’s prospects. But we couldn’t help but notice that Forest Green Rovers F.C., GSB fave and the Greenest Team in Sports, is in first place of the Vanarama National League (the 5th tier of the English system, the equivalent of low minor league baseball) with 17 of 46 matches having been played.

Religious readers of this site are likely well aware that FGR is GSB’s “Greenest Team in Sports,” that team chairman Dale Vince, OBE, also owns British renewable energy company Ecotricity; that the pitch of its home stadium, the New Lawn, is mowed by a solar powered Mo-Bot; and that the stadium concession stands only serve vegan food.

Why isn’t this a bigger story?

FGR plays in the 5th tier. But, if they finish in first, or win a playoff amongst the teams that finish 2nd to 5th, they get promoted at season’s end to the 4th tier, known as League Two (the bottom two finishers in League Two get relegated to the National League.) Which would mean greater media coverage and fan awareness of the club’s on-field and off-field exploits. Chairman Vince, well aware that promotion up the English football ladder (League One, the 3rd tier, is also within his sights, as is the 2nd tier, known as the Championship; but first things first) is crucial to the long term success of FGR’s sustainability mission, has invested heavily in the on-field product.

That investment has led to strong results as FGR made the promotion playoffs each of the last two seasons, only to fall short. Finishing in first means automatic promotion (bypassing the playoff) so that’s the clear goal for the 2016-17 campaign.

Again, the marathon season, which runs from August to May, is in its early days. That said, being in first place by 4 points (teams earn 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 for a loss) now is a good thing.

A home win Saturday vs. second place Dagenham & Redbridge would be a very good thing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyBkiCJr4A4&w=560&h=315]

Forest Green Rovers fans, along with opposing team supporters, offer their takes on the “Greenest Team in Sports”, in this 8:17 video.


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