Niagara College hosting virtual summit on sustainability and sport
Environmental sustainability is a key component of the new Henley Rowing Centre.
Interest is high for an April 9 virtual summit that will explore the concept of sustainability in sport within Niagara and beyond.
The free Zoom event, organized by Niagara College, the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games and the Canada Games Council, has already attracted more than 200 registrations as of this past Monday. It is scheduled to run from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“We have registrants from 10 provinces, 15 different schools from across the country, different provincial and national sports organizations as well as representatives from seven different countries from around the world,” said Michele O’Keefe, Niagara College’s associate director of athletics and recreation.
The public is invited to join the summit but the organizers are hoping to attract a couple of specific groups.
“Our target audience is high school seniors who have an interest in geography or the environment and/or sport management as well as post secondary students who are studying geography, sustainability or have an interest in this as a whole,” she said.
The secondary target audience is students studying construction.
“We have a segment on how sports facilities are being built,” O’Keefe said. “Of course, there is government code they all have to meet but it is interesting if a student has an interest in building or wants a career in construction they can also have a career in sport. It is a great combination.”
The summit will look at sustainability in sport through moderated discussion and storytelling. There will be a keynote address from a yet-to-be announced big name in Canadian sport and two live panel discussions. One panel will delve into climate change and sport in Canada and the other will look at the newness of the sustainability discussion and the future of sport and sustainability.
To register visit: ites.google.com/2021canadagames.ca/sustainabilityxsport
“The newness of the topic in Canada is exciting for me,” O’Keefe said. “I do my bit for recycling but I think it is interesting to learn more about the impact of different things.”
It’s a topic that could be in the forefront sooner rather than later.
“It could very easily be that governments will ask bodies, schools, national sports organizations and provincial sports organizations to start measuring their carbon output,” O’Keefe said. “But as exercise physiologists or sports management people, they are not necessarily going to know how to do that. There are all kinds of things to learn about carbon footprints.”
Among the panel discussion members are: Crystal Rabley, the sustainability chair of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games; Natalie Knowles, a climate scientist, wilderness conservationist, and outdoor athlete; Seyi Smith, a retired two-time summer and winter Olympian in athletics and bobsleigh; Dan Reading, the manager the sustainability program for World Sailing, the international governing body of the sport which covers 145 national authorities; Rob Millington, an assistant professor at Brock in sport and social change and sport for development and peace; and, Geneviève Marchand, the senior manager of event operations for Tennis Canada and the co-chair of Tennis Canada’s sustainability committee.
The host of the event will be Dan Wilcock, the CEO of the Canada Games Council.
Niagara College decided to host the event because two Niagara College office of sustainability employees are on the Canada Games sustainability committee and Jenny MacKnight, a graduate of the college’s environmental program, is the Games’ coordinator of sustainability, accessibility and inclusion.
Niagara College athletics is only at the infant stages of its sustainability planning.
“Right now, we have only gone as far as waste management but when we get back to normal we are going to do an audit on how we run our department and see what kind of things we can tweak,” O’Keefe said.