Pioneering initiatives to be integrated to Glasgow’s wider event portfolio

ABW Standard a core pillar of World Athletics’ Sustainability Strategy – second progress report released today

When fully adopted, World Athletics Standard will have widest reach of any sustainability evaluation system in the sport industry

The World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 became the first event to be awarded platinum level recognition against the Athletics for a Better World (ABW) Standard, the evaluation system implemented by World Athletics this year that measures an event’s achievements in sustainable delivery.

The recognition, announced to mark Earth Day, came after a comprehensive evaluation by a team of international sustainability experts of the local organising committee’s approach to the event’s environmental and social impacts. The announcement comes alongside the release of the World Athletics Sustainability Report 2022-23, which details the development and implementation of the Athletics for a Better World Standard, initiatives from World Championship and one-day events, the empowerment and views of athletes and progress against the six pillars of the World Athletics Sustainability Strategy.

Efforts to include social impact and environmental sustainability into the delivery and legacy of the championships was a strong focus for event organisers who delivered several pioneering initiatives.

  • More than 800 staff and volunteers received mental health training to help them deliver a mentally healthy event for themselves, athletes, officials and spectators. The project, developed by the event’s partner Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH), was a first of its kind for an event in Scotland.
  • Organisers also partnered with a food bank in the city’s east end to redistribute all excess food from the event – more than 1000 meals – to forge a positive partnership that has set the path for future events at the Glasgow Arena.
  • Efforts to reduce the event’s carbon emissions included public transport partnerships, a catering menu with an extensive selection of plant-based options and awareness-raising events, panel discussions and activations in the months leading into and during the championships.
  • And, adding to the event’s legacy, a dedicated social impact project manager, hired for the local organising committee, will stay on to continue this work with the Glasgow Life events team with plans already underway to integrate positive social impacts into Glasgow’s wider event portfolio.

“From the outset, the local organising committee made a strong commitment to maximising the social impact and reducing the environmental impact of this event,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. “They did so by having a strong vision and investing efficiently in resources to provide a textbook example of what sustainable athletics event looks like. The Glasgow team has set the highest bar.”

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow is extremely proud to have been recognised by World Athletics for its approach to social responsibility when hosting the World Athletics Indoor Championships last month.

“To achieve platinum level against the Athletics for a Better World Standard, the highest level ever awarded to an event host city, is a huge accolade. It’s testament to the vision, commitment and ambition of the Local Organising Committee led by Glasgow Life and UK Athletics.

“The team was committed to embedding sustainability into Glasgow’s plans to deliver a successful world-class event, without compromising the needs of our planet. Glasgow is increasingly recognised as a global leader on sustainability and this award gives us strong foundations for hosting future events.”
 Second Sustainability Report released

The ABW Standard consists of 55 action areas that address all levels of event delivery, measured in terms of how they align with the six pillars of the World Athletics Sustainability Strategy, which was released in 2020. Those areas include procurement, waste management, energy, food and water management, travel and accommodation planning. Diversity, accessibility and inclusion of staff and volunteers is also addressed, as is ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of all participants.

The World Athletics Sustainability Report 2022-23, also released today, highlights the progress made on the ABW Standard since its unveiling in December 2021. Organisers of more than 300 one-day athletics competition series events and label road races have been introduced to the ABW Standard. Several dozen events piloted the Standard system in 2022 and more than 100 piloted elements of it in 2023, providing valuable input prior to its implementation on 1 January 2024 when sustainability reporting became a mandatory component of World Athletics’ broader event evaluation process.

When fully adopted, the ABW Standard will have the widest reach of any sustainability evaluation system in the sport industry.

While reporting against the ABW Standard was not mandatory for the Glasgow competition, all World Athletics Series (WAS) events whose bids opened in the latter half of 2023 will be contractually obligated to commit to a high level of delivery. The 2027 World Championships in Beijing will be the first WAS event that will be required to deliver to a gold level achievement. Glasgow scored 108 of the 120 available points in the tiered ABW Standard to meet the platinum level threshold.

Scottish Culture, Europe and International Development Minister Kaukab Stewart said: “Following on from the success of hosting the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, news the event has achieved platinum level recognition in the Athletics for a Better World Standard for sustainability is a feat everyone can be proud of.

“Moving forward, sustainability will play an increasingly important role in the organisation of major events and awards like this can help drive the continued effort towards achieving net zero targets and supporting the local economy.”

Ian Beattie, Chair of UK Athletics and Co-chair of the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 Steering Group, said: “After staging an unforgettable World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24, it is fantastic news to hear the Championships has achieved platinum level against the Athletics for a Better World Standard with regards to sustainability. It is a credit to all the team working on the championships that they have achieved the highest standard possible and shown they are world-leading in this area.

“Not only was it a superb event on the track and in the field in Glasgow, but this outstanding event has shown how it can be delivered sustainably and be used as a model for future championships. Congratulations to all involved in achieving this incredible feat.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events, said: “Glasgow and Scotland provided the perfect stage for the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships, delivering a truly memorable event. The recognition by World Athletics for the event’s work to deliver environmental and social impacts from the championships, awarding it platinum level against the Athletics for a Better World Standard, is an amazing outcome.

“Events play an important role in our communities, giving us all the opportunity to come together and share memorable experiences. They are also a chance to leave a lasting positive impact and it is clear to see the championships has done this for Glasgow.”

Esther Britten, Head of Major Events at UK Sport, said: “We are delighted to have supported our event hosting partners to build and implement a robust sustainability plan which has led to this platinum accreditation. We are committed to ensuring all major events hosted in the UK are delivered with environmental sustainability at their heart.” – WORLD ATHLETICS

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