Sustainability | Sport England (2024)

This video features a discussion between four individuals, talking about sustainability in the sport and physical activity sector. The discussion is moderated by Ayo Akinwolere, who is joined by Chris Boardman, Denise Ludlam, and Adam Freeman-Pask. They are sat on two armchairs and a sofa in a relaxed podcast studio setting.

[00:00:00] Ayo:Climate change is a long-term shift into the planet's weather patterns and also average temperatures, and you know what? It's going to affect all of us, especially local sports teams as well. My name is Ayo Akinwolere and welcome to Sport England's special podcast on sustainability. We've got an esteemed panel with us right now, so let me introduce them. We've got Chris Boardman, who's chair of Sport England. We've also got the Strategic Lead of Sustainability, Denise Ludlam, and also Adam Freeman-Pask, who is the CEO of Fulham Reach Boat Club as well. Let's get the first question out of the way, and I really want to get all your perspectives on this, guys. Chris, we'll start with you. Is climate change really impacting sports and physical activity? Also, I guess the bigger one is, why should people care?

[00:00:48] Chris Boardman:We are wrapped up in society, and everything we're doing is impacted by climate change, and sport as much as everybody else. We see it already all around us. We know that there's 120,000 football games, just grassroots games, being cancelled every year because of flooding. The impact of that, when you move on from that, is parents doing something where their kids go, "Do you know what? We've been cancelled three in a row. Let's not do it." We're actually seeing that impacting the numbers now. We're competing with other things that aren't physical activity. There's just lots of examples like that that show that it's already impacting our lives and it's set to get worse.

[00:01:29] Ayo:Denise?

[00:01:30] Denise Ludlam:We already know from a survey that we've done recently that three in five people in the last year have had their physical activity stopped because of an extreme weather event, so we know it's having an impact. It's interrupting people's physical activity, and we know it's only going to get worse because climate change has only just started and it's going to get progressively worse no matter what we do. That's already baked in, so we need to understand how is sport and physical activity impacted and what can we do to help people carry on taking exercise in a changing climate?

[00:02:11] Ayo:Yes. Adam, you're right there in the front of this, right? With the boating community. Talk to me about how you're seeing things change. Chris has talked about pitches being flooded, but, I mean-

[00:02:23] Chris:He’s knee deep in it.

Everyone laughs together.

[00:02:24] Ayo:Yes. He's knee deep in it. Exactly.

[00:02:26] Adam Freeman-Pask:We wouldn't mind a few pitches to use, actually. Us on the tidal Thames, the last 14 months have been the wettest on record, and that translates into the river being unrowable, unfortunately. There's too much flow in the river. What the Port of London Authority do is they put it on a yellow flag or in a really bad case, a red flag. Now for us, we're all about reaching underserved communities and getting people into sport, so we can't take beginners out on yellow or definitely not red flags, right? We've had so much of our delivery this winter wrecked because of the weather conditions, and it makes it hard. We make things as engaging as we can on the land, but it's not the same experience as going off and being on the water in London, right?

[00:03:10] Ayo:There are also people listening thinking, "All right, fine, this is all happening, but what have I got to do with it? I just want to play football. I just want to take the boat out." I think one of the bigger conversations around carbon footprints in this country in particular, and I think a lot of people can't quite decipher what that looks like for them. What would you say, Denise?

[00:03:30] Denise:First of all, it's not just about your carbon footprint. It's about other environmental things, such as the air pollution, plastics that you produce. We've just been talking earlier about the impact of plastics and microplastics, really big effect, so people can do really simple things to reduce their carbon footprint and have less of an impact on the environment. You might walk or cycle to your weekly training. You might recycle your kit. You might talk to the people that manage your facility about making sure it's well-insulated and the energy is managed really well, or even getting solar panels, having a community solar panel system. There's lots of little things that you can do as well as some of those really big things. It could even be buying a coconut pan scrub for the facility kitchen instead of having a plastic pan scrub. Better for your pans as well.

[00:04:26] Ayo:A coconut pan scrub, eh? Never heard of that one. What about from your perspective, Adam? Are you aware of this, especially people that attend the club and use the facility in terms of trying to encourage people to think more sustainably, to allow people to think more about the impacts they might have on the planet? Because, obviously, if they make their small impact, it could affect the boating community for years to come in a positive way.

[00:04:52] Adam:Yes, totally. Don't get me wrong, I get completely drawn into the numbers and the science around it, but actually for me on the ground, it's all about keeping it really simple and accessible. For us, we've got a really simple mantra, which is: the health of our space, that's the place for our health. And that way we can be really holistic about it and actually we can dig into different areas. I just use the network of people that come through the door to explore different areas, so yes, it might be that coconut pan scrub, it might be where we're getting our kit from, it might be how we're getting transported to the building.

We're really trying to inspire that to allow people to build and then take it with them because it's so much better when it's led by people who are within our community rather than me trying to top-down lead it. There are certain initiatives that I'll try and really grasp because they're infrastructure ones, but really just trying to put it on the agenda for us to explore it and just push it forward, and yes, using that mantra of yes, it's the health of our space, so why wouldn't we look after it?

Actually if our river's cleaner, if there's more animals in there, it actually rubs off on the experience you get because it's not just about the physical activity. If you're out in the Thames and it's clean and you're not having to wash your hands, so paranoid, or you're out there and you see a seal or-- believe it or not, there's a lot of seals in the Thames in London, or we had porpoises the other weekend. You're seeing these things. You had two porpoises up at Richmond, right?

[00:06:08] Ayo:Oh, that's brilliant. It's amazing to see.

[00:06:10] Adam:All this stuff, it adds to the colour and the richness of the experience that we can offer. Without that, I think back in the 1950s, the river was pretty dead. For a lot of people, it's not really about the sport. It's about all this other stuff, so it's trying to weave it in.

[00:06:25] Chris:I think that's how you keep it live and real, though, isn't it? "What's in it for me?" Going back to the culture thing, "What's in it for me?" that's how we're built, and you've got to be able to feel like you can win. It was sport that came up with the term - it's actually cycling, to be honest, I'm trying to be generous - sport came up with the term ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ where what you're trying to do is so big, and the gap that you need to close to get to gold medal is such that I just can't get the motivation to do it, so it's like, okay, let's let go of that big thing. Let's look at all the hundreds of things that make that up and write, what can we do about that one?

What can we do about that one? When we aggregated it all together, jeez, that's a big leap forward, and I think that's how we've got to tackle this. You just listed lots of small things that you can do. Things like if you're a business, your procurement chain, ask them what they're doing, because when you're a business, it's pretty scary if your customers start saying, "We want to know where you're sourcing your stuff from," or a bank, "We want to know where you're investing." Then suddenly your ripple effect from a smaller group of people is really big because now it speaks to my fear. I react and adapt fast, that's what people want. I'll move. We can have a massive impact by looking at small things. We just pick the right ones.

[00:07:44] Ayo:Do we think there's a bit of a gulf still in terms of how we as individuals, because I think sport mirrors society, right? How we as individuals see our connection to the greater issue at hand. Some might say, "I play football. I'm sure the club's looking after it." Do you know what I mean? Sometimes it's hard to create that link that actually “I'm actually part of the solution,” Chris.

[00:08:06] Chris:I think the most exciting bit for me when I've got really involved in this agenda is what sport can do that no one else can. Sport is emotionally connected with most people in the country, and they've created-- I am in that gang. Football's a great example because it's really emotive. Lots of people follow it. They don't go, "Oh, tell me what you believe before I join your gang." They go, "I am in. I'm emotionally involved." Imagine if we get the first footballer that says, "I'm not stopping flying, but when I'm in Europe, I'm going to get the train. Who's with me?"

Can you imagine the impact that would have on a fan base and on peers as well? I think we get quite a few people who go and stand next to them, and so the emotional connection that sport has, uniquely has, it could leverage that. Look what Marcus Rashford did. Marcus Rashford focused in on one thing and united everybody to get something done. Who's going to be the person that does that for climate change?

[00:09:09] Ayo:Yes, I think that's a very good point, what do you think in terms of can the bigger organisations, I guess the role models, and I guess sportspeople, it has to be various things, but actually what Chris said there is quite fascinating. Just one person or a group of people. I guess the word is making it ‘cool,’ but I don't want to be that corny. Do you know what I mean?

[00:09:28] Chris:You've said it now. It's out there.

[00:09:30] Ayo:I've said it. It's out there, but do you know what I mean? Just because I see myself, I'm a football fan, I see myself aspiring to be that person on the pitch.

[00:09:38] Denise:Absolutely. That power of somebody making it cool and making it interesting, making it the way to be, and actually the individuals on the ground going, "I can do that as well. I can make that decision and control it. It's not up to someone over there to do that and to make that decision. I'm going to follow this lead. I can control my destiny."

[00:10:03] Chris:I think there's a latent demand for leadership on this, I think on an individual basis, an organisational basis, and we know that nearly three-quarters of young kids have said, "This is really important to me," so I think the first person to step outside the norm and say, "I'm going to do this, and I know that's going to make you feel really uncomfortable," I think they'll be surrounded with supporters and allies really quickly.

[00:10:26] Denise:It was certainly, we carried out a consultation and the consultation of the sector, what the sport and physical activity sector told us was, "It's really important to us, we want to take action."

[00:10:39] Chris:82%.

[00:10:40] Denise:82%, "Want to take action, but actually, I don't know where to go. I don't know who to listen to. There's so many things that we should be doing and voices. What should I do first? What's important?"

Denise closes her eyes and moves her hands around to emphasise her point about people being unsure how to act.

[00:10:49] Denise:Actually, back to your previous point, having somebody that's saying, "This is the way forward. This is what we need to do," would be great because there's all that latent energy there ready to make some of those decisions and act so that the sector is waiting for us to lead and support to enable action.

[00:11:13] Adam:I'll big up some of the Olympic athletes actually because I think in the run-up to Paris, some of them have been really positive and vocal about this, and actually that really has tallied quite nicely with what we've been trying to do on the ground. For me, I work with an amazing group of 40 coaches who are like our community influencers. We've got 1,500 kids that come through our door learning to row every year, and the connection they build with a coach and the sort of the influence that person can have on that kid learning sport but also the way they conduct themselves and weaving this stuff in is so important.

For us within a sport like rowing, it's actually been quite well laid out for us this year by what some of the Olympic athletes are already doing and then what we're trying to do on the ground. Things like, we've been switching over to electric propulsion for our coaching boats. We've got like an electric launch, so rather than using having a noisy motor that's belching out CO2, we've got this electric one that's silent, so you can actually have a conversation with the athlete rather than yelling at them, which is a really nice change.

[00:12:08] Ayo:Changes that dynamic, doesn't it?

[00:12:10] Adam:It's really important.

[00:12:10] Chris:Do you not yell anyway just because you like it?

Laughter amongst the group.

[00:12:13] Ayo:Just have to bring your voice down just a little bit now!

[00:12:16] Adam:I yell at the coaches, but, yes, it's exactly that, but it's such a positive shift in the dynamic on how to coach someone. Then the other thing being able to drive along with it silent, it's amazing. You can hear the boat move, you can hear the athletes talk to each other, yes, it's a brilliant bit of kit. I think at the moment it's working quite well actually, but I'm not trying to let anyone off the hook there, Chris. I think you've called it, more people doing this, it needs to sort of set the tone.

[00:12:40] Chris:The first thing is we talk about it, the second is we get a spotlight on it, so we can't hide from it, and we have some big names that change behaviour. Genuinely, I think-- I was about to use a real cliché that sport can punch above its weight in this—

Ayo and Chris laugh briefly.

[00:12:49] Chris:--everyone should join the game because of that emotional connection, and I think it can. It's one of the few things, like music, that connect everybody.

[00:13:10] Ayo:I know what you're saying there, but I still feel that there's something in us as Joe Bloggs, member of the public, as well. There's a startling fact here that China's fossil fuel emissions went up by, what? 458 million metric tons in 2023 compared to 2022.

[00:13:26] Chris:You just have that fact in your head then?

Chris laughs amicably as Ayo continues.

[00:13:28] Ayo:I just dropped it out of nowhere, but real talk though, the last few years, that has gone up, but previous to that, the UK was just as high or higher. If you think about it, 66 million people live in the UK, 1.4 billion in China, so this smaller country at one point was producing more fossil fuel emissions than China, but also I don't know if people connect the dots that actually perhaps even me buying these trainers or that toy or that oar that I use that was made in China has contributed to their emission levels. How do we make sure that we also understand that actually, this back to my original point, we've got a part to play in this? Because I think, yes, we can have the Marcus Rashfords in this world doing their thing, we can have big corporations doing their thing, but we've also got to do our thing as well.

[00:14:16] Denise:Couldn't agree more, we absolutely need to do our bit. China's got our own carbon footprint because of the stuff that we buy, whether it's for sport or elsewhere, they're holding that carbon footprint, so we need to acknowledge that, and there's a real education piece there for us to do to make people aware so when we're buying things, let's ask, what's that supply chain like? Where are we buying it from? How are people reducing that impact? How are they making it more sustainable, and the stuff we buy, can we keep it in the economy, so we never throw it away? There's lots and lots of questions, but all of this is about education, isn't it? Helping people understand that bigger picture.

[00:15:07] Ayo:I guess then that brings me slightly to equipment really. We're in a day and age where we can just pick up our phone, swipe and we get new equipment delivered to our house tomorrow, right? What's the solution here? Buying something longer-lasting? Because rowing is not a cheap sport.

[00:15:23] Adam:No, it's not, and we get through a lot of kit. I think actually something on this is really important. Yes. Something you've said as well already is we're basically offshoring our CO2 emissions by buying stuff that's been manufactured abroad. On some of the things we've been doing recently, we're looking at a new clothing provider, and actually to go through that process, doing the due diligence, we've actually asked people for more information about their supply chain and then how they're offsetting things like CO2 or they're using green energy. It's amazing the suppliers that come back to you with nothing.

It's quite telling, they don't really know their own supply chains. Therefore, if someone doesn't really know their own supply chain, for me, it rules them out quite quickly. There isn't a perfect solution out there, but there's better solutions. Then you have to work around where is the CO2 then coming from next? If it's being manufactured abroad, it's probably from being air-freighted because how is it going to turn up on the door in 10 days, right? Then you just have to shift our buying behaviour. I'm working with all of our rowers to be like, "Okay, you're not going to get it next day, but if we all do our order within this period, which is going a bit more old-school, but we can--"

[00:16:24] Ayo:People have forgotten what that felt like to wait four days or five days for something to arrive.

Ayo laughs while reflecting upon what things used to be like.

[00:16:28] Adam:Yes, but we'll be doing it better. You'll be shipping it in bulk and all that sort of stuff. I'm taking people on a bit of a journey there. We're trying to do this properly. Actually, I've got their support because they've said, "Look, we do know when we need it. It's just a bit of planning, and it's just a bit of a behaviour change."

[00:16:44] Chris:There's something, just to sort of move past that quite quickly then, but just asking the question, "To change the system, what is your supply chain?" and you're ruled out of this because we can't see it. The impact of that on a business, and it doesn't take many potential customers to do that before you go, "This is affecting our bottom line," because that fear of missing out is strong in us, it's instinctive, and you get change.

How and where are you banking? Your bank, what do they invest in? Where are your pensions invested? Where am I buying that? You can get change quickly. It's a financially-based society that we live in. Anything that threatens that is suddenly really important. People just asking that question at the bottom and making some choices that are based on what you can see, what's visible, and saying “I'm going with them, they're slightly more expensive, but I know it, and I agree with their philosophy," it has a huge impact.

[00:17:40] Ayo:Are you saying the power is in people power? The power is in people actually holding people to account.

[00:17:44] Chris:The power in your pocket of where you’re going to put your money?

[00:17:47] Ayo:Yes. A good point. What about from a Sport England perspective, Chris, what are they doing to help local clubs be a bit more sustainable in that respect?

[00:17:55] Chris:There's a couple of things that I've always-- I've been really careful to go with things and be authentic, and it doesn't mean to be a saint. It doesn't need to be, but it means be authentic with people. Number one, if we're going to ask the sporting sector that we work with, we distribute over £300 million a year, every year. That's significant influence, but if we're going to ask somebody else to change, then we've got to look at ourselves first.

When we were talking more broadly about you talking about China earlier, you can't push China until you can do your bit, and that has a big-- in international level, that is, "We've done this, what are you doing?" and it really puts pressure on because that can affect an economy of a country. On a country scale where we are and Sport England says, "We're going to–and we have –we will reduce our carbon output by 50% by 2030, net zero 2040," so fairly tight timescales actually, then we can ask other people to do it, and we have to do two things.

We have to say, "We require this of you. By 2027, you must have a sustainability strategy. That will be a requirement of funding, and we will help you do it, and we will resource it.” So you do two things. “This is something you must do,” and “we're going to help you do it," and that's partnership and that's leadership. If we just said, "You've got to do it, it's up to you," then lots of small players that we really depend on in communities, they're gone, and then we have a net loss.

I think we've got the balance right. We've put tens of millions behind this now, and as a national body, we've signalled “this is serious. This is a moment.” This is an unprecedented investment with the 60 million that we've already put in place, 45 million, it's over £100 million worth investments in helping people get there. I'm quite excited about it.

[00:19:48] Ayo:From your perspective then Adam, if you were in a situation where they're asking for the sustainability layout or the blueprint before you actually apply for funding, is it hard to say, "Yes, we'll spend it on insulating the clubhouse, but we need equipment though?" That's the thing, isn't it? Where do you find that balance and what your needs are and actually the sustainability things we're talking about in terms of making your environment way more sustainable and better for the planet?

[00:20:17] Adam:Yes, the pressure on the ground for all sports clubs is really hard. The economic climate we're in, all these things have made actual delivery really, really hard. I think for me being more efficient, like making sure the air con's off, all this sort of stuff, there's a lot of basic things we try and do anyway. I think for us to articulate that in a plan, I think is a sensible thing to do. You think of what that's been done with like the governance code, what's being done with safeguarding, you do need that kind of commitment by putting pen to paper, but I think people want to do it, like our customers want to see that action. I think it's a meaningful way of driving change, and it's good to see that there's a commitment from the--

[00:21:02] Chris:Everybody's got air cover. I think that's really important. The interpersonal politics of this is, you go, "I really want to do this, but that just might hack some people off."

[00:21:10] Ayo:Exactly, yes.

[00:21:12] Chris:But when you can say, "I know this is going to be really hard, but we've been told we're going to have to do it by 2027, so we better get on with it." You've got air cover. I work on the fringes of politics, and I'm getting dangerously close to it, and I know that these are things people need. Sometimes they want you to push them, and 82% of the people in the sector said, "Yes, we want you to be really ambitious because we can't do it upwards. This is where we need you to lead." You've also got to look at what happens if we don't. That's the question that we--

[00:21:44] Ayo:That's the bigger conversation, isn't it?

[00:21:45] Chris:We never ask that question. "Can you live with the status quo?" I've just seen something in the Financial Times recently, I think it was yesterday, the world economy is due to shrink by 34 trillion a year because of the impact of climate change. Just the amount of people that can play will get smaller as places become more uninhabitable. Can we afford that? That's the question we should ask.

Can we afford that? What happens if we don't? Working in Greater Manchester for Andy Burnham, I used to work on transport for five years, that was the first question, "You're spending two and a half million a week at the moment treating inactivity alone. Can you afford that?" When you frame it differently, people go, "Okay, that is hard, but I see your point." Ultimately, climate change doesn't care. It doesn't care whether it's easy or hard. It just is. That's our choice.

[00:22:38] Ayo:Yes, I think you're right. Obviously we've had the Paris Agreement and as we're seeing now, certain countries are like, "Oh, I don't know if we can do that," but actually what you're saying there is really fascinating about reframing it. What are we losing in the meantime? Yes, we're saying we're struggling, but what are we actually losing? Because we're talking about catastrophic damage for the future, and also we're talking about rising levels of obesity, we're talking about all these kinds of situations that can be cured by having grass to play on, by having lakes to swim in.

[00:23:09] Adam:The thing is as well, it's about starting now because the thing is, for example, like using an electric launch engine, there's a load of operational changes there, but starting and learning now means that we'll be closer to solving it quicker, right? Whereas if we just delay it, you just miss out on all that learning and you just constantly kick the can down the road.

[00:23:26] Chris:The tension between the two, the key one is to set a date and set a target, and what those two things are, is less important than doing it. As soon as you say 2050, personally, I think it's unauthentic because I'm not going to be around 2050, and so I can say pretty much anything now. You have to have something that as soon as it starts to scare you, you're probably in the right territory, and then you can go, okay, that's what we're moving towards. When we said we're going to ban the sale of petrol cars and then there's a timeframe for doing that, which has moved, but it was 2030, the whole industry was actually quite thankful because they said, "Okay, that's going to be hard."

[00:24:06] Ayo:Now we know what we're working towards.

[00:24:06] Chris:"Now we know the timeframe we've got and we know what we've got to do," and it has the ability to-- if you said next year, then they'd be up in uproar. If you said 2040, then it doesn't matter. They're the key bits, a date and a target that's scary.

[00:24:24] Denise:Of course, all of these measures actually have so many co-benefits for health, for the economy. The green economy grew at 9% last year, whereas the rest of the economy grew at 0.1%, so, actually, why would you not do it? It improves air quality, improves water quality. It increases health and wellbeing and happiness. Why would you not do it? As well as benefiting people in other parts of the world where climate change is already having a devastating effect and we can support that. I personally want to be on the right side of history in terms of taking action, and when it has so many other co-benefits, it feels like a no-brainer. I accept you are changing things that we've done for years, but it's okay to change, isn't it, and do something different. It's good, so let's make those changes.

[00:25:22] Ayo:It's so true. I think what you said there is really powerful, Chris, in terms of reframing it. Actually, do you think by reframing these messages and actually allowing people-- I guess we do have to a certain sense, people understand what they might lose, but reframing it so there's a sense of immediacy. Do you think that could really get the message across better?

[00:25:42] Denise:Definitely, yes, because we say, oh, it's going to cost X so many billions to become a green economy or a green country and make sure all our energy is renewable, but actually, what is the cost of not doing that? Let's look at that. Okay, as Chris has said, I probably won't be here either to witness that, but certainly my children will be here to witness that, and so many, I look around and think, "Yes, you're going to be reaping what we're sowing now," so it's just a non-argument.

[00:26:17] Chris:There's a positive thing that we haven't touched on yet as well, which is praise, which is one of the things that really helps change is find the good things that are happening, jump on it, give it loads of air time, give it loads of public praise, and that both makes them feel good and more empowered to go a bit further. Last year, when we got lots of people saying, "Brilliant, really glad you were that bold," our whole organisation went, "Okay, we were really scared about this, but actually people want us to do it, so we'll do more," and that makes such a difference. Conversely, the people who aren't doing it get more and more uncomfortable to the point it's actually the least worst option, even if they don't want to, is be in that gang. Praise, I think is something we don't talk about, but jump on it, perhaps over-magnify it when somebody's doing something good, so they become the desirable position.

[00:27:05] Ayo:One of the things that is ever emerging is the influence of technology, tech in all our lives, really. It's decimating some places and actually can also be used, and especially data can also be used to aid certain spaces as well. When we're talking about climate change, where do you see technology coming into play?

[00:27:24] Denise:Technology is so important. If we take solar panels, for instance, when I first started out in this business a few years ago, solar panels didn't really work north of the Watford Gap because the technology couldn't make the maximum of the sunlight. Whereas now, they work way up in the north of Scotland really well. They were super-efficient, and the price has plummeted to what it used to be. That's a really good example of how technologies come to maturity, but we've got examples of how we've used the heat energy that a data centre has produced to heat a swimming pool.

Murmurs around the group indicate positive reaction to this point by Denise.

[00:28:05] Denise:Brilliant. Instead of putting our data centres in really cold countries and melting glaciers in really cold countries, let's put them somewhere--

[00:28:14] Chris:Local swimming pools.

Denise gestures towards Chris in agreement.

[00:28:15] Denise:--in local swimming pools. And heat pumps. The technology is still very young in many ways for heat pumps, but it's developing all the time, so let's support that development of technology. Simple things, electric bikes. I have an electric bike. I think it's absolutely fantastic, and the technology there has come on in leaps and bounds, and it's great to get me around without putting too much effort into it in a nice possible way.

[00:28:44] Ayo:You're talking to this guy over here.

Ayo points to Chris. The group all laugh together. Chris holds his hands up in acknowledgement.


[00:28:44] Denise:I know!

[00:28:46] Ayo:He's like, get rid of that battery!"

More laughter.

[00:28:50] Denise:It's great. It means I can just get around without it being too stressful.

[00:28:56] Ayo:I get you. I get you. What sort of challenges are you guys facing as organisations in implementing these sustainability challenges, practices?

[00:29:05] Adam:Oh, it's all like, this sounds like a very boring answer, which a lot of people give from the ground, but it's capacity and bandwidth, and for me, the way out of that is I or my team, we don't need to do all of it. We just need to bring people in. This is where we've been working with lots of different partner organisations like Thames Seal Watch or River Action UK or the governing body or the Port London Authority, or with Washed Up Cards today, we're doing the river clean-up. We just bring people in and we become a focal point for all that stuff and the rowing and the kayaking just sits alongside that and builds off that. Yes, capacity is a key problem for me in doing it, but the solution is there, just open the door out and let other people come in and help you.

Ayo looks towards Denise.

[00:29:52] Ayo:What kind of challenges do you see or foresee? You're there nodding going, "I can see a few coming through."

[00:29:58] Denise:There are some challenges, but I think the biggest one is about that education piece, because it's back to what we were saying earlier, people think it's either up to somebody else to do it, or it's too complicated to do it. Actually, it's not complicated. Everything we need to do is already happening somewhere, so just take three actions. There's the education piece about what to do, and there's a perception that it's really expensive, but so much of what we want to do, need to do, is not expensive. It just costs the same. It's just doing what we're already doing but doing it differently.

[00:30:34] Chris:You’ve got to move from informing and encouraging people to enabling and requiring, and that's where we are now, I think. I think there's a nice mix there that we have to get where we go, "Right, you have to do this. We're going to help you do it, and we're going to give you time to do it, but we have to do it." Then we make things that are occasionally doing things like using your own cup when you're walking around and not using paper cups. Just change them into, "That’s a decent daily habit," and then it becomes scalable, and then it has an impact, but we're just at the moment of going, "Oh yes, I think I'll take a cup today. Oh, I've forgotten it today." Moving it to all of these small steps being the norm rather than occasional.

[00:31:20] Ayo:That was an absolutely enthralling conversation. Thank you so much for joining us, Adam, Denise, and also Chris as well. Appreciate your time.

A closing title screen slides on, featuring the Sport England logo. There is text underneath inviting viewers to read the new Sport England sustainability strategy at

Sustainability | Sport England (2024)


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