Visible and invisible, a lot is happening during the European Para Championships to promote the sustainability of our planet. The organization in Rotterdam has taken a series of measures that encourage participants and visitors to think about the future. Catering, transportation, energy and reuse of items; on all fronts they are working to make the event as sustainable as possible.
Sports events – if you would do nothing – of course still contribute to climate change. Athletes and fans travel all over Europe. If you don’t watch out, their participation costs a lot of energy and residual waste. The organization of the European Para Championships has taken a critical look at this beforehand. Progressive decisions are made wherever possible, with the idea of being able to take even further steps at a future edition of the event. A long-term sustainability strategy is being worked on, Rotterdam is now working with a 2023-version. “We are also really using this edition to learn from what works and what doesn’t and how we can do better towards 2027. After the event, we are going to measure the carbon footprint, to again learn from that and see in which areas we can and should take more steps”, said sustainability manager Loes Holtmaat.
Holtmaat had been busy since the beginning of the year, with the whole team of the European Para Championships, taking many measures for the EPC2023. More and more organizations, unions and companies are cooperating, but a 100 percent score is not yet possible in every area. “For example, for the transportation of participants who are in wheelchairs, there simply weren’t enough electric vans available in the Netherlands. So you can’t really come up with another solution for that right away.”
Nevertheless, much did work out. Take the catering, for example. Anyone walking around Ahoy soon discovers that there are plenty of vegetarian and plant-based choices available. “And that, even if you are not a vegetarian, is quite a nice idea”, says a German supporter, with a little flag on her cheek. “I am here to watch my son, who is on the wheelchair basketball team. And notice that the future is clearly being thought of here.”
At the dinner, prior to the opening ceremony, the VIPs also received a complete plant-based menu. Holtmaat: “We deliberately did that, after all, they are the decision-makers, it is good to reach precisely that group as well.”
Those who come to Ahoy by public transport can pick up a token for a free cup of coffee. Participants, their coaches and supervisors, organization crew and volunteers travel for free by public transport through Rotterdam. Electric cars will be used to transport VIPs and transport over longer distances. However, many short trips through the city are made by bike, which is practical and fast. And that, too, obviously saves a lot of car movements. Leaving the cars at home also has a practical advantage, because Ahoy is easily accessible by metro, as are the sports venues in the city, such as Schouwburgplein.
Last weekend, the boccia and wheelchair tennis finals were held there. Naturally, setting up such a temporary sports venue always requires a lot of energy. “Usually the energy supply was always done with diesel generators, but we as an organization have now really abandoned that. You have to dare to do that. A battery pack, or just mains power, are much kinder to the environment”, Holtmaat said. This does mean that an extra inspection must be scheduled with the municipality and fire department. “Because this is not yet the standard in the Netherlands, and so there are extra safety regulations.”