OLL’s new environmental responsibility programme encourages the sports sector to work together for the environment

The Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) has released its environmental responsibility programme. Work on the environmental responsibility programme began in 2018, and it was implemented in April 2020. “The aim of our environmental responsibility programme is to pay attention to climate change, loss of biodiversity, overexploitation of natural resources and littering in nature. The programme affects all our operations, and we aim to be a carbon neutral organisation by 2025,” OLL’s President Antti Pentikäinen says.

The main approach for becoming carbon neutral is to cut down the Federation’s emissions and to compensate for any remaining emissions. When measured in 2018, the Finnish Student Sports Federation’s carbon footprint was over 55,000 kilograms of CO2e, i.e. carbon dioxide equivalents. “Because of our international activities, travelling and especially flights, have the largest impact on our carbon footprint. Other major sources of emissions have been energy consumption and the food served at our events,” explains Events and Education Coordinator Markku Rantahalvari, who calculated OLL’s carbon footprint. OLL’s environmental responsibility programme has been written in a very concrete way, and it also includes instructions for calling for tenders when making a purchase, among other things.

By being concrete we want to avoid ambiguity in how the changes included in the programme should be implemented. The main changes – and the ones which have been debated the most – are related to travel, food and purchases. One change is that we no longer take domestic flights. When flying abroad, we will only take direct flights whenever we have this option. In terms of other travel, OLL continues to prioritise public transport. “Apart from flights, our travel has been exemplary. For example, we travelled over 80,000 kilometres by train in 2018,” Rantahalvari says.

Another change that has caused a great deal of discussion is that we now mainly serve vegetarian food at events and training sessions. If needed, we can serve some of the fish recommended in the WWF Sustainable Seafood guide, such as locally sourced herring or roach, as a meat course. In our environmental responsibility programme, we also pay attention to reducing the use of dairy.

The third change relating to our everyday activities is carrying out an environmental assessment before making a purchase decision. As well as calling for an ecological approach in purchases, OLL also strives to implement a completely new way of thinking: less is more. We will, for example, no longer be buying corporate gifts or “events tat”. This will also save us money.

In addition to improving our own ways of working, OLL also supports the entire field of student sports and our stakeholders in protecting the environment. “We want to be a role model for the entire exercise and sports sector. We would be happy to help our members and other communities, for example through training and sparring. In international student sports circles, we will demand that environmental issues are acknowledged in all operations,” Pentikäinen promises.

Reciprocally, OLL also wants to get tips and help from its members. “It is important to make it everybody’s business to pay attention to the environment. We are strongest when we are together and when we share best practices with everyone,” Secretary General Ida Bolander summarises the spirit of the programme.

You can read the Finnish Student Sports Federation’s environmental responsibility programme here.