The R&A and the USGA contribute to global sustainability congress

Global Sustainability CongressGolf’s governing bodies, The R&A and the USGA, supported by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), promoted the game’s environmental efforts at one of the world’s largest sustainability conventions, the BirdLife International Congress, held in Ottawa, Canada this week.

With attendees from conservation and community groups in more than 120 countries, the Congress demonstrated how human health, wealth and security are directly linked to biodiversity; showcasing organisations and sectors that are providing solutions for biodiversity conservation and sustainability.

Steve Isaac, Director - Golf Course Management at The R&A, said: “We reached out to BirdLife Europe earlier this year with a view to exchanging information on golf and biodiversity, and now we are delighted to be here, sharing and listening, alongside the USGA and GEO.

“The theme of the Congress is ‘Partnerships for Nature and People’. Few land-based sports bring so many people into contact with their local, natural surroundings as golf. With the two global governing bodies of the game working so closely together, it is clear to see that golf has a real opportunity to establish itself as a valued contributor in addressing the very real challenges and concerns that face society and the environment.”

Kimberly Erusha, Managing Director of the USGA Green Section added: “Across the United States, and around the world, many of the 33,000 existing golf courses work hard to provide for communities and nature. Sustainability is becoming more comprehensively integrated into golf course operations.

“We encourage all parts of the industry to embrace ecological richness, resource efficiency and local community – as core components of strong golf businesses, and fundamental to the future reputation and relevance of the game. On a platform of credible programmes and bringing forward verified case studies and information from golf courses, we’d also like to see golf take a well-earned position as an example of and an advocate for sustainability in communities around the world.”

Some of the key themes discussed at the workshop included:

· Nature – with an average of 50% of every golf course being ‘out of play’, golf’s 33,000 existing golf courses already safeguard considerable green space for biodiversity

· Water – probably golf’s greatest technical challenge, with continuing research on turfgrasses, recycling and irrigation needing to be combined with ongoing education of practitioners

· Community – the vast majority of golf courses are community-based and provide accessible health, recreation and social interaction for young and elderly alike, supplied by a diverse range of other businesses and sectors, and generating an estimated economic value of over £96 billion globally per year.

GEO Chief Executive Jonathan Smith said: “Sustainability has become central to public, government and business outlook, now and for the long-term – and proactive engagement is a huge opportunity for golf, tied directly to growth and profitability. On so many fronts, with the right approach, golf can make a genuine difference to the health and wellbeing of people and the environment.”

As long standing advocates and supporters of sustainability in golf, The R&A and the USGA played a key role in the production of the International Golf Federation’s Sustainability Policy. This policy united over 153 golf organisations in making sustainability a core pillar of the game.

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