Golf industry highlighted at Global Sustainability Standards Conference


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    Steve Isaac of the R&A, the USGA’s Kimberley Erusha and GEO’s Jonathan Smith at the event

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Sustainability in the golf industry was a key area of focus at this week’s ISEAL Global Sustainability Standards Conference.

Leading figures in the field gathered in Washington DC for the two day event, including representatives from The R&A, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Golf Environment Organization (GEO).

This is the seventh year the Global Sustainability Standards Conference has taken place, with the 2016 edition focusing on innovation and evolution. Attendees explored how standards and certification can use new tools and technological advances to grow their impact. 

Golf has seen a growing community of collaborative partners across the sport, and GEO highlighted this as example of sectoral innovation atconference.

“By coming together around a platform of custom built standards, assurance, certification and reporting, golf has established some of the central components of a cohesive and credible strategy – helping define clear expectations, offering a trusted means of recognition, and being able to monitor and report trends and impacts, locally, nationally and globally,” said Karin Kreider, ISEAL executive director. “And of course, the added value here to the sustainability movement is the role that this enables golf to play as a valued advocate for change across wider business and society; harnessing its visibility and reach.”

As the governing body of the sport outside of the USA and Mexico, The R&A has a major influence on the sport globally and is a significant investor in GEO’s work.

“Sustainability is a key priority for The R&A, and we are fully committed to helping drive evolution and change in and through the sport around the world,” said Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at The R&A. “Positive practical action across the nature, resources and community agendas is good for golf, for the people we serve and for the environment we share. It’s a big opportunity and responsibility, and we are delighted to be here, participating, listening and learning, amongst this alliance of inspiring examples of proactive leadership.”

Other attendees included Kimberly Erusha, managing director of The USGA Green Section.

“For more than 100 years the United States Golf Association has committed to funding research and providing expertise to foster innovation and help courses manage resources efficiently,” Erusha said. “As a result of that investment, we continue to see positive change through the adoption of best management practices, not only in golf, but within communities that maintain a wide array of recreational facilities. Our ability to share knowledge through education outreach and enter into a global dialogue on all aspects of sustainability is vital to the future of outdoor sports. We are proud to help lead those discussions and provide data towards that ideal.”

Jonathan Smith, chief executive of GEO summed up: “The timing is perfect – with sustainability now unequivocally a business imperative, the sport invited back into the Olympic Movement, and with a desire from across clubs, developments and tournaments to evolve and innovate. We have seen how robust, globally to locally applicable standards, certification and reporting systems can help support and accelerate that positive change. As a result of the industry’s research, advocacy and investment, combined with specialist solutions and services, golf is now extremely well placed to drive collective action and generate tremendous results. GEO is proud to serve the sport in sustainability, and to be an active part of ISEAL, which does so much to ensure the ongoing dynamism and credibility of the global standards and certification community.”