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The effects of climate change threaten the things we love, the places and spaces we play at, and our way of life.

We’re in a climate emergency. We all need to start considering our environmental impacts and identify ways to reduce them. 

Tackling climate change is everyone’s responsibility. You can start with small individual actions or make bigger changes to your facilities or operations.

Committing to take action is a great start. You can do this by preparing an environmental sustainability policy so that everyone in your organisation knows what the plan is.

Turning this policy into action can be difficult, but by taking a few simple steps or by creating an action plan, you can share the message far and wide and help people embed new ways of doing things. 

Some benefits of having an environmental policy include:

  • Encouraging conversations about environmental impact and change within your organisation.
  • Making your organisation’s view on sustainability issues clear.
  • Celebrating milestones and successes as you turn policy into action.
  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities so everyone knows what to do.
  • Improving your reputation and influence within your community and among other similar organisations or sports.
  • Sharing the challenge across your organisation, rather than one champion trying to make a difference alone.

Creating a policy

We’ve set out some suggestions for creating a policy and the different sections you might want to consider. Some examples are also attached below to help you. 

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  • Introduction and statement of intent

    Start by (re)introducing your organisation, what you do, and what your vision, mission and aims are. 

    After this, setting out a statement of intent is a great way to introduce your policy and why you’ve created it, this could include: 

    • Your main aims and goals from creating a sustainability policy.
    • A brief explanation of the policy to follow.
    • Timescales related to the policy.
  • Work out your current impact

    It’s important to understand your organisation’s impacts on climate change – these will depend on what type of organisation you are and how you operate. 

    Every aspect of what you do, from the activities you run, to the membership cards you use, the kit you buy, suppliers you use and how people travel to your activities, has an impact. 

    Have a look and see where your biggest impacts are and where you can make the biggest reductions. This will help you in frame the rest of your policy and plans.

  • Set out why you want to do this

    It can be helpful to explain why you decided to create a policy (your motivations). This may directly relate to your current impacts or a wider aspiration.

    For example, you may find your organisation’s electricity bills are consistently high. 

    Or someone from your organisation is passionate about tackling climate change.

  • Commitments and ambitions

    This is the most important section of your policy; it’s where you state what you want to do as an organisation. 

    Start with your ambitions and set targets on what you’d like to achieve – try to make these specific and measurable and set yourselves a timescale to achieve them.

    From here it should be easier to make clear environmental commitments. Try to make these simple to understand, specific to the organisation as a whole, and brief (so people are more likely to read them all). Some examples might include:

    • We are committed to change.
    • We will monitor our energy and water use and make reductions where possible.
    • We will support nature and wildlife.
    • We will encourage and support active travel.
    • We will reduce waste and ensure recycling provision is available and visible to encourage people to use it.
    • We will rethink our food and drink offer to prioritise sustainable solutions.
    • We will connect with local networks and signpost to further training and guidance to support our people.
    • We will promote and communicate our environmental responsibility across the organisation, including our volunteers and participants.
  • Responsibility and review

    Consider who will be responsible for writing, implementing, and reviewing your policy. This might not be the same person. 

    It’s useful to signpost to training or other informative resources to help boost people’s confidence on this topic. 

    It’s helpful to have at least two people involved in any policy to make sure it’s objective and includes all the relevant information. Ask your volunteers, staff, or committee to see if someone has a particular interest in sustainability and wants to be involved.

    Be sure to get your committee’s buy-in and sign off before you implement your plan. 

    You should write down how you intend to monitor your policy and when you will review and update it. We would recommend at least an annual review and a full update at three years. 


Your next steps

Once you’ve created your policy, or simply outlined your organisation’s willingness to make changes, we’d suggest creating an action plan to set out the steps you’ll take to reach your commitments or ambitions. 

Having an action plan helps to ensure people know their roles and responsibilities, timescales and how they to measure success.

A quick and easy way to do this is to create a table. Your columns could include: targets, proposed actions, people or person responsible, timeframes, success measures and other considerations. Here’s an example:

To reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Proposed actions
Install a water refill point and encourage participants to bring reusable bottles. Switch from using plastic cups and cutlery to paper and bamboo.
Person(s) responsible
Volunteer lead for maintenance and the bar manager will be responsible for these actions respectively.
The end of the season.
Success measure
Water refill station in situ and over 70% of users bringing reusable bottles to sessions. Plastic cups and cutlery to be entirely phased out.

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If you’re short on time, take a look at our simple actions list for ideas to get you started, with suggestions for bigger changes you can think about making when possible.

Further resources

The benefits of creating a policy are vast, and while it may feel like a time-consuming exercise now, everyone stands to benefit from it and so does the planet! 

Explore our website for further guidance on ‘Understanding environmental sustainability’, watch our sustainability animation to get started, or to see how to improve the environmental impact of your facility watch our video with BASIS and The Black Prince Trust

For more information on environmental sustainability check out Sport England’s sustainability strategy, or look at your local authority or NGB website.