Sustainability is the path we have to take. And the money will follow on our heels. In keeping with this philosophy, Steinar Hoen has helped Oslo Bislett Games to go green – while cutting costs.
Steinar Hoen is a retired, medal-winning Norwegian high jumper and Meeting Director of Oslo Bislett Games. The games are held in the heart of Oslo – which is the European Green Capital for 2019.
“Norway, unfortunately, is not always first out of the gate – especially when it comes to sports,” says Hoen. “We were unhappy when the V-style was introduced in ski jumping, and we haven’t been an early adopter of sustainable solutions at sporting events either.”
As the head of the largest international sporting event in Norway, he has had to look beyond Norway’s borders for inspiration.
“You can see how far many others have come. Internationally, sustainability has a key role in events like this. Norway is finally beginning to follow – I haven’t reinvented the wheel,” he says.
With competitors from 47 nations and broadcasts to over 160 countries, the world’s eyes will be on Norway during Oslo Bislett Games. Spectators will be watching not only fantastic athletic feats, but also an event where sustainability is in focus.
Bislett Stadium will generate its own electricity with solar panels – the first Norwegian arena to do so.
The stadium does not have parking facilities, so spectators are encouraged to take public transport – with a ticket sponsored by the games.
The athletes will be transported in zero-emission vehicles such as trains, electric buses, hydrogen vehicles and electric cars.
“We were able to schedule the Diamond League events in Oslo and Stockholm on the same weekend, so athletes and their support teams can travel between the two cities by high-speed train. This will not only make it more comfortable, it will also spare the environment and our budgets from air travel,” explains Hoen.
Overall, the event will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39 per cent.
According to Hoen, who is now an investor, one of the best reasons for implementing green solutions is that they are often profitable.
“When you browse the solutions in The Explorer, you can see that these are based on promising, future-oriented concepts that use new technology in innovative ways. Regardless of whether the world becomes hotter or colder, this is the path we have to take. And the money will follow on our heels.”
“To me the green transition is the fourth industrial revolution,” he adds.
Ever since Oslo Bislett Games went green last year, Hoen has travelled throughout Norway sharing his experiences.
“I’m proud to show what we have achieved, as well as the bottom line.”
Oslo Bislett Games is also aware of their corporate social responsibility.
“Perhaps we should be the frontrunner – we are Norway’s largest international sporting event. We are also the first Norwegian event to use the ISO 20121:2012 standard, which covers everything from recycling to power supply. It will become a requirement for all events over a certain size,” says Hoen.
The standard emerged from the London 2012 Summer Olympics, and covers the entire event management cycle.
“The standard has very stringent requirements. But if you use it, everything will run smoothly – you’re in good hands,” reassures Hoen.
Exxon was Oslo Bislett Games’ main sponsor for 29 years, so it was a major leap when the Zero Emission Resource Organisation (ZERO) became a partner last year.
“Now we only have partners who see the value of our sustainability activities,” says Hoen.
“All companies listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange must report on sustainability. It doesn’t take long for top management to identify which events they want to be associated with.”
Events will have to have an effective sustainability strategy in hand to be attractive.
“This will give sustainability a push in the right direction, and development will go fast. There are no sponsors today that would dare to back an event that creates mountains of litter or spews out generator exhaust,” concludes Hoen.