The International Rafting Federation delivers the first certified carbon neutral World Sports Event with the Costa Rica 2011 World Rafting Championships. This article explains how they did it. A model for the world.
Costa Rica raises the bar in global sustainable environmental initiatives once again. The World Rafting Championships (WRC), held October 4-11, 2011 in Costa Rica, is the first ever Certified Carbon Neutral world championship sporting event. EARTH University certified Costa Rica’s WRC as Carbon Neutral as a direct result of the leadership of the International Rafting Federation and Rios Tropicales , along with a team of Costa Rican host sponsors, communities, and organizations, including Turrialba Chamber of Tourism, and The Costa Rica Paddle and Adventure Association.
The organizers of the 2011 WRC realized they could successfully deliver a first-ever Carbon Neutral event, with over 600 participating athletes from 35 countries in the host country Costa Rica. They contacted the Carbon Neutral Commission of EARTH University to plan how to certify the seven day event. Event certification efforts were led by Rafael Gallo, who has transformed Rios Tropicales into Costa Rica’s top geotourism adventure company and sustainability advocate – and owner/manager of Costa Rica’s largest private native rainforest reserve for carbon mitigation.
“We saw the perfect opportunity to make our environmental stewardship ideals real when the World Rafting Championships came to Costa Rica in 2011. Costa Rica has the knowledge, systems, people, and product in place to be able to develop and host a certified Carbon Neutral International Sports event.” said Mr. Gallo
To achieve carbon neutrality, Costa Rica had to remove, reduce, or compensate for 100% of the total carbon emissions associated with the 2011 World Championships. Event organizers used the GHG Protocol (Greenhouse Gas protocol) to measure the total carbon footprint, including the indirect impact of all participants’ international flights to/from the event. The total event “footprint” came to over 1,000 tons of CO2. Organizers reduced fossil fuel consumption through centralized participants’ housing, sourcing local food and products, waste recycling, organic matter composting, and solar energy. Over 250 international athletes planted 3,000 native tree species in a 5.5 acre (2.2 hectare) deforested area of Costa Rica’s rainforest on Oct 7th, 2012. These seedlings will absorb carbon and generate oxygen over a 15-year period to mitigate for all remaining event carbon emissions.
“The oxygen generated from the trees we planted in Costa Rica will eventually reach us in Norway“, says the Norwegian Womens Rafting Championship Team.
Dr. Edmundo Castro, Director of the Neutral Carbon Program at Costa Rica’s EARTH University, verified and validated the event’s actions. Carbon Neutral Certification was awarded in a ceremony after the tree planting work in one of Rios Tropicales Natural Reserves, to the enthusiastic applause of over 250 participants from Japan, Canada, Norway, Chile, Slovenia, Mexico, Costa Rica and other countries.
“By thoroughly inventorying all carbon emissions associated with the planning, and operation of this event, IRF was able to then reduce and mitigate 100% of the event’s carbon impact, thus becoming the very first Certified Carbon Neutral World Sporting Championship in modern history.” said Dr Castro.
The lessons learned at 2011WRC in Costa Rica went around the world. A total of 48 teams from 35 different countries participated in the Costa Rica WRC 2011, and took the knowledge shared on recycling , composting , solar energy, local sourcing, and tree planting mitigations back to their home countries.
For more information about carbon neutrality and certification standards, visit EARTH University (Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda)