Edinburgh, Scotland: The R&A has launched a new initiative designed to make The Open one of the world’s most sustainable sporting events.
GreenLinks is a new sustainability programme and was presented to a forum of key stakeholders and partners at Royal Troon ahead of next month’s 145th Open.
The R&A will take a leadership role in addressing the growing international focus on the sustainability and legacy of major sporting events through the GreenLinks programme.
“Sustainability is a key priority for The R&A”, said Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A. “We want to manage The Open in a truly environmentally-sensitive manner and establish it as one of the world’s most sustainable major sporting events.
“The new GreenLinks programme addresses a broad scope of issues across the staging of the championship related to nature, communities and resources. The establishment of the GreenLinks programme is an exciting moment for everyone involved. More importantly, it signifies the integration of sustainability into the day-to-day operations and staging of The Open.”
GreenLinks is being supported by the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO), an international not-for-profit body dedicated to helping the golf industry embrace sustainability and support its commitment to protect the environment, conserve natural resources and bring value to local communities.
GEO administers the GEO Certified standard; a credible and significant distinction that recognises clubs which have a strong commitment to sustainability across categories of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community.
The principles of sustainable golf course management underpin the GreenLinks initiative and this has been recognised by all current venues for The Open being approved as GEO Certified.
Royal Troon Golf Club achieved its certification with real commitment to nature conservation and bio-diversity. Much of the golf course is located in an environmentally designated protection area; a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Bird and butterfly audits have been undertaken as a component of the club’s responsible approach to protecting these species. A total of 71 species of bird have been recorded on the links, and of the 33 that breed on site, seven are on the UK Red List of threatened species.
Fourteen of the UK’s 56 species of butterfly have been recorded on the course, including the re-introduced Small Blue, which had become extinct in Ayrshire.
The GreenLinks programme also addresses sustainability issues in catering, waste management and community engagement.
The Open is supporting ethical food production by working with Troon Fairtrade Initiative to help support and raise the profile of the Fairtrade movement.
All tea, coffee, hot chocolate, sugar and bananas supplied at The 145th Open will be Fairtrade certified. Through Fairtrade, growers receive a fair and stable price to cover the cost of sustainable production and a premium, which is invested back into their business or the local community.
In 2015, approximately 60,000 cups of Fairtrade filter coffee and 12,500 Fairtrade bananas were consumed at The Open.
The Open will showcase Scottish produce from 16 different local suppliers to cater for spectators during the week of the championship, including the creation of innovative dishes, sourcing from Scotland’s natural larder to reflect the seasons and the diversity of wonderful produce available.
Implementation of waste separation and recycling will help to minimise the impact of the thousands of spectators expected to attend this year on the environment.
In 2015, 81% of waste from The Open was successfully diverted from landfill. The R&A is collaborating with ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, and 250 litter pickers from two local schools, Marr College and Queen Margaret Academy, will help The Open contribute to the charity’s objective of making Scotland clean, green and more sustainable.
The R&A will engage with the local communities in South Ayrshire to recruit volunteers to be a part of The Open this year, while the championship will also deliver a major economic boost to region through employment and golf-related tourism.
Funds have also been allocated by The R&A to the support of local legacy projects to address social and environmental issues in South Ayrshire.
After The 144th Open, three legacy projects in St Andrews received support: restoration works to the West Sands dune system with Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, and local bio-diversity initiatives with the University of St Andrews and Keep Scotland Beautiful.
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