The International Canoe Federation has praised the hosts of two environmental sustainability projects it oversaw during the 2019 season, and believes the foundations have been laid to further extend the program in the future.

La Seu, in Spain, and Pitesti, Romania, hosted pilot projects alongside the major international canoeing events they hosted in 2019. La Seu was home to the ICF canoe slalom world championships, while Pitesti was the location for the ICF U23 and junior canoe sprint world titles.

In La Seu, the canoe slalom venue for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the hosts introduced 30 sustainability initiatives during the five-day world championships. They covered areas including food and water, local economy, waste management and social awareness.

“The La Seu organising committee went above and beyond what we had expected from them during the 2019 world championships,” ICF sustainability manager, Catherine Wieser, said.

“They’ve set a fantastic benchmark for future events, achieving figures which they should be incredibly proud of. We were all inspired by their passion and their vision.”

During the event 81 per cent of all generated waste was recycled, far exceeding the pre-event target of 70 per cent. All of the food served was prepared fresh to avoid paper and plastic wrapping, and surplus bread and cooked food was donated to local associations.

Organisers also installed water fountains around the venue to allow everyone to re-fill their reusable bottles.

A recycling competition took place between national teams. Every tent was equipped with labelled recycling bins, which were counted and emptied twice a day by educators from le local waste management company. Slovenian’s national team was the winner of the competition.

Pitesti in Romania embraced the challenges set by the ICF to make its canoe sprint event as environmentally sustainable as possible and found an enthusiastic audience of young paddlers from around the world.

“As we all know, today’s youth are very concerned about issues surrounding the environment and sustainability, so it was no surprise to see them embracing initiatives in Pitesti to lower the event’s footprint,” Ms Wieser said.

“When you couple the enthusiasm of the athletes with the willingness of an event organizer, the planet will emerge the winner, and this was certainly the case in Pitesti.”

Like La Seu, Pitesti organisers prepared all food fresh to eliminate unnecessary packaging. There was a strong and positive response to education initiatives during the championships, and plenty of exciting ideas put forward for future events.

“The idea of pilot projects is to test the water, to see what is possible and what isn’t, so that we can go to future events with a plan that we know is achievable,” Ms Wieser said.

“Because of the excellent work of our hosts in La Seu and Pitesti, we now have a much better idea of what can be done. It gives us great confidence that in the future, all ICF events will be considered environmentally sustainable.”

The ICf is hoping to announce soon the events where test programmes will be held in 2020. The full reports from the 2019 pilot projects can be found here

Watch interviews with athletes about the sustainability projects here

You can find the sustainability toolkit here


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