The sustainability training programme for the stadium operators of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ has reached its conclusion in Rio de Janeiro with a round table that centred on the need to harness the power of football to create a better future for everyone.

Launched on 15 August 2013, the programme has sought to improve its participants’ knowledge and awareness of the sustainable management of football stadiums and other sporting facilities. Coming together at three separate gatherings staged over a total of six days, participants shared their experiences and discussed ways of optimising their operations.

Topics ranged from the use of efficient lighting systems and a reduction in the use of drinking water to accessibility issues for persons with disabilities and the need to offer more sustainable forms of public transport.

“It’s not enough just to build a stadium in a sustainable way,” said Lucas Silva, a staff member at the Arena Pernambuco’s sustainability office. “And it’s no good having major, innovative sustainability projects and not managing them correctly and ensuring as a result that they cause less of an impact on the environment. That was the message that came out of one of the workshops. They are basic concepts and they are very interesting in terms of how to manage a stadium sustainably while respecting the people who live in its vicinity and the local community in general.”

The idea is for the stadiums to be pursuing well-integrated sustainable management practices after 2014.

FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Federico Addiechi

As FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Federico Addiechi explained, the initiative is based on a programme that was successfully rolled out during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.

“We think it is important to pass on practical information and experiences to other stadiums so that they can be implemented here in Brazil, after the World Cup in particular,” he said. “The idea is for the stadiums to be pursuing well-integrated sustainable management practices after 2014.”

The project is being supported by the Brazilian federal government through the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), which approved loans for the construction and renovation of all the stadiums intending to apply for environmental certification. As a result, most of the stadium owners agreed to build their infrastructures in accordance with green-building certification requirements. 

The Castelao is the FIFA World Cup’s first environmentally friendly stadium and has been awarded the international Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate. Other Brazil 2014 stadiums such as the Maracana, the Beira-Rio and the Mineirao have applied for the certificate and are awaiting approval. Together they are poised to take the stadium legacy beyond 2014.

“The Beira-Rio will receive certification as well, though it should be pointed out that the stadium’s owners, Sport Club Internacional, are also focusing their efforts on social sustainability,” said Inter Vice-President Diana Oliveira. “This is a football club that has very close ties with society. We ran a programme for 2,000 disadvantaged children a little while ago and initiatives like that are of great interest to us.”

She added: “It will be great for us to get a certificate as a seal of approval, but in operating the stadium from this point on we will be concentrating not just on our resources but on people too.”