GSB Interview

Sport Positive Summit 2023 Preview: New Global Voices Added to Green-Sports Party


London’s Sport Positive Summit, in collaboration with UN Climate and the IOC, has quickly become an annual must-attend (in person or virtually) event on the Green-Sports calendar. Its fourth edition takes place October 3-4 at the Kia Oval cricket ground, with ‘Day Zero’ kicking off the proceedings on the 2nd. GreenSportsBlog previewed the conference with its founder and driving force, Claire Poole.

GreenSportsBlog: Claire, in my opinion, an important hallmark of the first three Sport Positive Summits has been that it always goes beyond the ‘tried and true’. With that in mind, what’s new this year?

Claire Poole: Well Lew, every year we make a strong effort to use the constructive feedback we get to make the summit better. So, the comments from last year, our first in person event as you well know after two virtual years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had several common themes.

Arguably the biggest one was the idea that we need to expand the ecosystem of presenters. People said that we had great speakers but that they felt like similar voices are heard at sports-sustainability conferences, including at Sport Positive. We always do look for fresh perspectives, but the level of feedback felt like a need to have, not a nice to have.

We will have 80 speakers at the Summit, and only 12 of them have spoken for us in previous years. Bringing new voices in is crucial, to show that more and more sports organizations are doing great work in this space.

GSB: This is much needed. What about expanding the geographic footprint of the presenters?

Claire: This is definitely part of our calculus. We are very conscious of the fact that, while we are organizing a global sports event, the vast majority of our presenters have been from the UK, the EU, and North America. A very small percentage of our presenters and attendees have come from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Cost, language, and travel-related carbon emissions are the main factors of having a speaker faculty from closer to the where the Summit takes place.

So, to try and bring more global perspectives to our in-person and online participants, we’re launching Global Sport Voices.

Overhead view of Sport Positive Summit 2022 (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit)

GSB: How will Global Sport Voices work?

Claire: Global Sport Voices means that we will be showing video messages from sports organization presenters from Vanuatu, Fiji, Botwsana, Pakistan and beyond.

Those who have recorded the videos for us, will also join us virtually, via the Brella app and livestream…

GSB: …LOVE Brella!

Claire: It is fab! The app will open a week before the conference and will be live a week after. People will be able to set up meetings virtually wherever they are in the world.

We have also made a concerted effort to bring more sports organizations into the Sport Positive mix, in particular winter sports. We’ve had some successes, but we’d love it more winter sports organizations would join us.

GSB: I think they would benefit by taking part. So, we’ve talked about the ‘who’ of Sport Positive Summit; now let’s pivot to the ‘where’. You’ve moved from Wembley Stadium to the Kia Oval, an iconic London cricket ground. What led to the switch?

Claire: First of all, I have to say that Wembley was an incredible host in 2022. But we’re changing the flow of the event this year, with morning plenary sessions before we split up into two streams in the afternoon. The Oval is better suited for this kind of event in terms of the types and sizes of the meeting rooms. And its Central London location is more convenient for attendees than Wembley up in North London, so we think that people will be happy at The Oval.

London’s Kia Oval, host of the 2023 Sport Positive Summit (Photo credit: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)

GSB: What are the streams or tracks that attendees can choose from?

Claire: On the afternoon Day 1, Tuesday 3 October, we’ll have the MACRO stream, which will include sessions on The Future of Sport, Environmental Justice, and Sports, Sustainability and Data. The other stream is ACTION, with breakouts on Operations, Circularity, and Biodiversity.

Then we’ll come back on Day 2, Wednesday 4 October with a COMMERCIAL stream — sessions will include Sponsorship, Procurement, and Risk, as in the ramifications of climate inaction — as well as an INSPIRE stream, focusing on how to inspire fans on environmental and climate actions. Inspire programming will include Athlete Authenticity, Systems Change, and Capacitya crucial topic that sport needs to begin to think about; how we can move from making small changes, to rethinking the way we work, to take advantage of opportunities from a low emissions economy.

Attendees can go to sessions in both streams — they’ll just have a bit of a walk to get from one to the other. And we know that people will be frustrated because they will want to attend sessions that are taking place at the same time. Again, since the Brella app will be live after the Summit, attendees will have three months be able to view all the sessions that they missed live.

GSB: While I know you’re excited about all the speakers on the program, and that it’s hard for you to pick out a couple to highlight. But we here at GSB are all about asking the tough questions. So, who are two or three speakers you’d like to shout out?

Claire: All of the speakers are so incredible in different ways, with different stories to tell and different insights we can all benefit from, so it is really hard to single them out.

I’m really delighted that Athletics Kenya President, Jackson Tuwei is speaking on the program. There are far fewer African leaders in our movement than other countries, and it is they are crucial voices in the global movement. I think attendees will find his insights incredibly interesting and useful.

There are so, so many others – go to our speakers page and you’ll see why it’s so hard to single more out. Whether you are a club, league, federation, venue, governing body, athlete, you are represented.

Jackson Tuwei (Photo credit: Athletics Kenya)

GSB: I know there will be lots of Sport Positive ‘Session FOMO’ so I’m glad to hear about the extended, three-month Brella option! Now, we’ve talked about Days 1 and 2 but what about Day Zero?

Claire: Glad you asked Lew! The Sport for Climate Action signatories meeting will be on what we call the Pre-Summit Day or Day Zero, Monday October 2 to allow them to attend all the Summit sessions; last year, it took place on Day 2.

We will also host the following three, 90-minute pre-Summit workshops:

  1. Carbon Literacy Session 1
  2. Climate Communications
  3. Sustainable Venues – kindly supported by Oak View Group’s GOAL program.

For the carbon literacy workshop, this is just session 1 of 3, with the other two will be hosted online. Completion of these sessions will allow participants to be certified as Carbon Literate. Day Zero concludes with the BBC Green Sports Awards, in collaboration with Sport Positive, on Monday evening, clearing the way for everyone to be able to enjoy two full days of the Sport Positive Summit.

I’d just say to your readers that there are limited in-person places left, so register now come and join us in London! Or if not, for sure register virtually; it’s never been more crucial to take action on climate, biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental justice.

GSB: I for one can’t wait to experience Sport Positive Summit at the Oval in London!

Photo at top: Claire Poole speaking at the 2023 National Sports Convention in Australia (Photo credit: AvellinoM at the National Sports Convention Australia)

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