About Golf Europe
(Golf Europe Sustainability Expert Group - From left to right: Torben Kastrup Petersen, David Gomez, Richard Heath, Jean-Marc Mommer, Alessandro de Luca, Tjeerd de Zwaan, Thomas Charrier, Maria Strandberg)
Golf Europe (GE) is one of the three pillars of the latest EGA Strategic Plan. Its main objective is to retain a leadership role in sustainability issues affecting EGA membership by sharing knwledge and coordinating projects and actions directly relevant to, and funded by, participating EGA member national federations (NFs).
A selected group of experts appointed by the NFs (pictured above) met in September 2018 in Amsterdam to discuss what could be done to achieve objectives directed towards NFs' needs while promoting positive outcomes to the EU and the European community at large.
In the current context, it is worth noting that there are several natinoal and-or regional sustainability initiatives that are taking place in Europe. In addition, The R&A is preparing its own report "Golf Course 2030". The EU and the UN, in their respective 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, have defined their action plans and goals for the long-term. The goal is to address the sustainability issues of the future and to promote responsibility to the wider European community.
The EGA Sustainability Experts Group Newsletter
One of the main objectives of the European Golf Association (EGA) is to retain a leadership role in sustainability issues affecting EGA membership by sharing knowledge and coordinating projects and actions directly relevant to participating EGA member national federations (NFs).
Communication is critical and the EGA Golf Europe Sustainability Experts Group (GE) has decided to publish a quarterly newsletter. Its objectives are threefold: to share up-dates and highlight news, trends and insights, to relay information on achievements, milestones, and legislative changes, to build awareness and stimulate interest and engagement in sustainability.
In this 1st edition we will focus on various issues directly linked to the EU sustainable strategy as expressed in the “European Consensus on Development” which covers five critical areas: People – Planet – Prosperity – Peace - Partnership. The EU declaration states: We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.
This policy aligns the EU priorities with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 global goals. The initial implementation projects of these goals started in 2016 with the aim to localize the projects in order to better highlight the responsibilities of local institutions and local actors. In addition, some regional programs were also launched.
The awareness of the general public on the need for sustainable development is constantly growing. As a result, more future emphasis will be placed on promoting and carrying-out increased control and follow-up on all sustainable initiatives. For the golf authorities and the managers of golf facilities the key questions are to determine how golf can continue developing in a sustainable manner and how it can contribute to achieving some of the EU 2030 targets. It has become more and more important to be able to show how our sport can contribute to preserving biodiversity and natural habitats. With the help of everyone, we will be successful in convincing the political authorities, and the public, that golf can be good for nature.
In the current context, it is worth noting that, in many countries, NFs are already working very hard. In the last years, there are several national and/or regional sustainability initiatives that have been taking place in the world of European golf.
Thanks to the newsletter, we can now offer a platform to share experience on these areas of common interest to the EGA NFs. The newsletter is free. It will be sent to all interested parties as well as to whoever is interested in how golf can play a positive role in sustainable development. If you are reading this message, please don’t hesitate to share it further. The newsletter will also be published on the EGA website.
Mission and Areas of Action
The common vision is to build a unified approach to the sustainable practices and to help NFs develop relations with local/regional authorities. In terms of the environmental management of golf facilities as a priority to EU initiatives, NFs require a strategy that can help them as well as speak with "one voice" to the European Union Institutions.
It was clearly stated that there is a need for each NF to pool resources and approach government officials with a positive mindset since many of them are often fearful to support golf publicly. Golf Europe's activities of growing the sport of golf in an environmentally, socially, economically and integrally sustainable way have been in line with, and will contribute to, realizing Europe's 2030 vision.
A series of key issues were identified and discussed, which can be grouped into six categories:
- Assessment of Golf Course Certification services (benefits; implementation issues; knowledge management)
- How to Approach Government (national vs regional; sequence timing of approach; local partnerships) and EU Institutions (identifying the right people; Green Week; European Week of Sport; EU Sport Forum)
- Multifunctional Use of Golf Courses (biodiversity for recreation and conservation; local partnerships and "clustering")
- "Brown is Green" Campaign (education of golfers and clubs)
- Key Technical Topics: Biodiversity/ Water Use / Pesticides (what do we need to know?; role and impact of climate change)
- Communication: it is recognised that there is no shortage of sustainability reports that remain largely unused. A more active communication scheme is needed.
These six issues constitute the backbone of GE's future actions with a more immediate emphasis on certification of golf facilities and on communication.
In addition, developing collaboration and partnerships with other sustainability organizations - especially with The R&A's Sustainability department - will be further discussed as we progress.