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ERASMUS+ SPORT BENCHES: Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Nature Conservation Helped and Enhanced by Sports

  • Categoria di progetto Erasmus +
  • Durata dal 01.02.2024 al 31.01.2027
  • Laboratorio/Centro di ricerca Centro di ricerca interdisciplinare sulla Sostenibilità e il Clima SuM
  • Costo complessivo €400 000
  • Quota partner €106 500
  • Responsabili scientifici Tiberio Daddi
  • Ruolo della Scuola Coordinatore
  • Sponsor European Commission

The link between biodiversity and businesses is increasingly recognized as intrinsically relevant on a global scale. Biodiversity is the backbone of the economies and all businesses directly or indirectly depend on biodiversity and ecosystems. This relationship also involves the professional sports industry, which deeply relies and depends on biodiversity, as ecosystems often provide the context for sport disciplines. Yet, at the same time, sports have a negative environmental impact on biodiversity through activities such as the construction and use of sports venues and the staging of sporting events.

The BENCHES project focuses on this interaction between Sport and Nature: it aims to increase the understanding of the pressures created by the sports industry on its surrounding ecosystems and to support sport organizations in their adoption of biodiversity management practices and of good environmental governance. It also supports the inclusion of actions and commitments aimed at biodiversity preservation and enhancement in sport organizations’ sustainability strategies.

BENCHES involves five different sports that have a close link to nature, that take place in diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems: mountains and forest ecosystems during the summer (Athletics, and more specifically Mountain Running) and the winter period (Biathlon); urban biodiversity (Football); oceans and seas (Sailing); rivers and lakes (Canoeing and Kayaking).

BENCHES indeed involves three international federations (World Athletics, the International Biathlon Union and World Sailing), one national federation (the Italian Federation of Canoeing and Kayaking) and a national football team (SL Benfica). The consortium will be lead and coordinated by Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, while Touchline will be in charge of communication and dissemination of the project’s results. The project wants to assess, measure and find solutions to the pressures made by these sports on the different ecosystems and to increase the awareness on ecosystems services evaluation.

In order to do so, the project will develop a digitalised biodiversity assessment tool for sport organisations and it will promote the measurement of ecosystem services’ value in sports. It will then deliver a manual of nature-based solutions, focusing on the whole life cycle of sport events as well as along the supply chain of sport organisations. The guidelines contained in the manual will be applied and tested in specific events. In parallel, BENCHES will contribute to enhance the skills and competencies of sports organisations in biodiversity management through training, awareness and networking initiatives. It will also leverage on the popularity of these sports to increase biodiversity awareness among fans.

The project will facilitate the implementation of EU policy priorities in relation to biodiversity, sport and sustainability (e.g. the European Council Resolution 170/1 2022), and of international initiatives in the field such as the “Sports for Nature” Framework launched by UNEP, IUCN and the IOC. Finally, BENCHES will multiply, exploit, disseminate and replicate its results leveraging on the “diversity” embedded in the project itself in terms of kinds of sports involved, targeted ecosystems, and sport governance levels.

BENCHES is funded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ Sport programme.