FIS is encouraged to see that many athletes are addressing the urgent issue of climate change and its impact on snow sports. The FIS leadership completely shares the anxiety about the effect that increasingly unpredictable weather conditions are having on the sports we love.
But FIS does not agree with the suggestion – made in the athletes’ letter – that its sustainability efforts are insufficient. In response, FIS would like to take this opportunity to outline its current and future actions on sustainability.
Since 2021, when President Eliasch was elected to lead FIS, sustainability has been placed right at the heart of the federation. It is a priority in everything FIS does
For over twenty years, President Eliasch has been committed to climate protection, with roles including: the Special Representative of the UK Prime Minister on deforestation and clean energy; Chairman of the Net Zero Review Technology and Innovation Advisory Group at HM Treasury, UK; Founder of the Rainforest Trust, which has preserved a 1,600 km2 rainforest area in the Amazon region; Co-Founder and Chairman of Cool Earth; Member of the Advisory Board for The Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative and the Stockholm Resilience Centre; Chairman of the Food, Energy and Water Security Program at RUSI, UK; and Member of the Council for Sustainable Business at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK.
As a long-term campaigner, investor and advocate in the field of climate protection, President Eliasch is determined to use his time at FIS to radically change the way the organisation approaches sustainability. FIS has signed the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which commits the federation to halving its “direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030. The athletes have called for a sustainability strategy detailing how this target is to be achieved; the details of the strategy are currently being finalised, in order to ensure alignment with the federation’s overall strategic plan. The contents of the strategy will address the athletes’ concerns about transparency, and should also reassure them on the measures FIS will take to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of everything the organisation does.
As we are a global sport, central to the sustainability strategy is a focus on optimizing the calendar, and on working with FIS partners to create increasingly sustainable events. The effectiveness of this approach has been demonstrated here in Courchevel-Meribel, where the organisers have just announced that they were successful in achieving ISO 20121 certification.
There is also a call for FIS to be carbon neutral; in fact, we are going further. In 2022, FIS became the first Climate Positive international sports federation. This began with a detailed carbon footprint estimate of all competitions staged during a full season, carried out by industry leader Planet Mark. Then FIS established a mechanism through which we can invest to offset those annual emissions many times over: the FIS Rainforest Initiative.
Deforestation accounts for almost 20% of all global emissions. Preventing deforestation is perhaps the most cost-effective, meaningful and practical way of making a difference, which is why it is the focus for FIS offsetting. With the assistance of those working in the field for decades, the FIS Rainforest Initiative has been supporting indigenous communities, investing in schools, clinics and sanitation. The FIS Rainforest Initiative is supporting new avoided deforestation projects and has been objectively judged as effective, fulfilling the UN’s official criteria on Permanence, Additionality and Leakage.
Is there more that FIS can do? Absolutely. Like everyone sharing this planet, we are at a critical point where we need consider sustainability as a top priority across all of our actions. Our passion for snow sports and climate protection means we are always seeking to explore new ways to cut emissions and cut waste – and to minimize our impact on nature. We wish to work with all stakeholders involved in the snow sports community – athletes, fans, sponsors, organisers, media – to protect the climate that is the foundation of our sport. On this, we are all on the same team.