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01 January 2024, 9am

Pioneering environmental sustainability in the sports industry

The launch of the Green Running Race Alliance

Five prominent road running organising bodies in Chinese Taipei have launched the Green Running Race Alliance with the support of National Science and Technology Council and the assistance of National Tsing Hua University.

The initiative is in response to the government’s net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 policy and to effectively implement the plans for energy conservation and carbon reduction. The Green Running Race Alliance is supported by Taipei Marathon (Taipei City Government), New Taipei Wan Jin Shi Marathon (New Taipei City Government), The Rice Heaven Tianzhong Marathon (Changhua County Government and the Shukang Recreation Sports Association), Chinese Taipei Association of Ultrarunners and H2U Sports Note. These five entities have decided to join forces to promote the environmental sustainability of road running events.

National Tsing Hua University’s Center for Sports Business and Policy, led by its director Professor Huang Yu, is recognized for spearheading environmental sustainability in the sports industry. According to Professor Huang over the past few years various road running organisations have taken a leading role in promoting environmental sustainability in sports. The Chinese Taipei Association of Ultrarunners has dedicated nearly two years to establish carbon footprint regulations for running events. The road running community has been organising the annual Road Running Environmental Sustainability Forum since 2021. Meanwhile, events such as the Taipei Marathon, the Rice Heaven Tianzhong Marathon, the New Taipei Wan Jin Shi Marathon, and the Taiwania Ultra Trail Race have all successfully completed carbon footprint assessments. These efforts have clearly showcased the commitment of the event organisers to various environmental concerns.

Professor Huang Yu emphasised that environmental sustainability has become a core value for these events. In the current context of heightened attention to environmental issues, the advocacy of the Green Running Alliance can be considered as a natural progression. The initial stage of this alliance is to carry out joint marketing. The Alliance will promote the environmental sustainability of each event, encouraging runners to collectively support and recognize these efforts, even echoing a shift towards a sustainable lifestyle and the implementation of daily energy conservation and carbon reduction practices. The promotion of the Alliance’s initiatives will be done both domestically and internationally.
Initiatives such as establishing standards for carbon footprint assessments and the execution of these assessments in road running events, as well as the efforts for energy conservation and carbon reduction, are considered cutting-edge in the global sports community.

According to Professor Huang, there are two significant reasons for this: Firstly, many event organisers understand the importance of sustainability and aim to expand the positive influence of their events. Secondly, due to cooperation within the road running industry, manufacturers must comply with the international carbon regulations. In order to remain competitive they must provide low-carbon products and services. Even in the service industry it is necessary to comply with domestic administrative regulations. This setup is advantageous for promoting environmental sustainability within the domestic road running industry.

Despite the progress that has been made in recent years, the Green Running Race Alliance must keep up with more advanced industries that have already achieved concrete results of their sustainability practices, such as green buildings, eco-friendly factories, and sustainable hotels. Therefore, another important task of the Alliance is to establish a set of criteria for an environmental sustainability certification for road running events. This initiative has received support from the National Science and Technology Council. The members of the Alliance will lead by example in the process of organising the road running event. The first environmental sustainability certification standards in the sports industry will be implemented with the practice of energy efficiency and carbon reduction through the event organization process.

Professor Huang Yu notes that the level of enthusiasm for road running events has gradually returned to reach the popularity it had before the Covid-19 pandemic. Indicators include the rapid sell-outs of prominent road running entries. Previous road running events have highlighted the boost in economic activity driven by the crowd, known as the “sweat economy”. However, while economic growth must be pursued the significance of environmental sustainability cannot be overlooked. The environmental impact brought about by 500 running events per year is quite substantial. Therefore, Professor Huang is delighted to see that prominent race organizers are willing to take the lead in the environmental sustainability efforts. He believes that more events and runners will recognise this important idea and join the ranks of the environmental sustainability movement.

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