Major events : reconciling economic, social and environmental impacts
Measuring impacts from major international sports events has developed over the course of the last few years. The organisers of major international sports events are called on to maximise their social and economic impacts, while minimising their environmental impact.
Social Innovation Manager
Sustainable Development Consultant
The Paris bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games emphasised their ambition to organise “the first sustainable, inclusive, solidarity Games”.
Social impact is multifaceted and therefore particularly difficult to grasp.
In the first place this impact concerns people who do sporting activities. Many studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits, including reductions in stress, and the risks from cardiovascular diseases, overweight and obesity. In 2018, one out of every three French people was failing to meet public health recommendations regarding physical activity and sport, and this negative trend has worsened during the health crisis, with its constraints on access to doing sport for everyone. Apart from the impact on health, wellbeing and self-confidence, doing sport can be a force for citizenship when it is managed and associated with values such as respect for others, non-discrimination and team spirit. A growing number of associations and public-sector actors are also constructing innovative programmes for vulnerable members of society, linking participation in sport with tools for inclusion such as learning to read and help in finding jobs.
Major sporting events can be catalysts for accelerating these dynamics, since they encourage participation in sport and they represent a framework for the launch of inclusive programmes for the inhabitants of the host area. In the context of optimising social impact, it is advisable to bring together an ecosystem favourable to developing initiatives before, during and after the event, in order to leave a real legacy: communications campaign for the general public, training for teachers about doing sport in primary schools, getting various local stakeholders involved (sports clubs, associations, federations, local authorities and so on) to facilitate access to sport for the greatest number of people and develop inclusive, related programmes.
“Accelerate the dynamics”
Events are also driving forces for local economic development, through spending generated by the organisers and spectators, and jobs created. They can also improve an area’s image in the long term.
In the same way as an effort is made to maximise the social and economic impacts of events such as the Olympics, thought must be given to minimising their environmental impact by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of waste generated, and water and energy consumption, and also by adopting good practices for the protection of biodiversity.